About the Lecture

This lecture is held in honour of Karen Spärck Jones, one of the most remarkable women in computer science. A Fellow of the British Academy, she had a long, rich and remarkable career as a pioneer of information science from the very early days of computing.

2019 Karen Spärck Jones Lecture

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Date: Wednesday 23 October 2019
Venue: Imperial College London
Speaker: Mirella Lapata, University of Edinburgh

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About Karen Spärck Jones

Karen Spärck Jones (1935–2007) was Professor of Computing and Information at the University of Cambridge and a pioneer of information science.

A Fellow of the British Academy, where she was Vice-President from 2000 to 2002, she enjoyed a long and remarkable career which began in the very early days of computing.

Her work is among the most highly cited in the field and has influenced a whole generation of researchers and practitioners. She received several major awards including, in 2004, the ACL Lifetime Achievement Award and, in 2007, the BCS Lovelace Medal and the ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award.

Prof Spärck Jones worked in the research of automatic language and information processing from the late 1950s, when she co-authored a paper in one of the great founding collections of the discipline: “The Proceedings of the 1958 International Conference on Scientific Information in Washington, DC”.

She made outstanding theoretical contributions to information retrieval and natural language processing, and built upon this theoretical framework through numerous experiments.

She introduced Inverse Document Frequency (IDF) term weighting, a statistical measure used to evaluate how important a word is to a document - now adopted as standard in systems such as web search engines to score and rank a document’s relevance to a search query.

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Sponsored by BCS Academy of Computing and IBM