The Stephen Robertson Prize

By Sarah Davenport, on 21 January 2014

UCLDH are pleased to announce the Stephen Robertson prize for the best dissertation in the UCL MA/MSc in Digital Humanities, sponsored by Microsoft.

Stephen Robertson obtained his PhD (on the experimental evaluation of information retrieval systems) from UCL, from what was the School of Library, Archive, and Information Studies (now Department of Information Studies), in 1975. Starting as a part-time student, Robertson was given a Royal Society Scientific Information Research Fellowship in 1973, which allowed him to pursue his PhD and related research interests for five years. Following this, he moved to the Department of Information Science at City University, where he remained for 20 years, with eight as Head of Department, and founding and running a research centre, one of whose research tools was the Okapi system (first an online library catalogue and then a free-text search system, prefiguring the current web search engines). Robertson was recipient of the 1998 Tony Kent Strix Award (from the Institute of Information Scientists, now part of CILIP). In 1998 Robertson moved to Microsoft Research in Cambridge, where he led a small group of researchers in information retrieval, making significant contributions to Microsoft products and services, including the current Microsoft web search system, Bing. The Gerard Salton Award (ACM SIGIR) followed in 2000, and in 2003 he became a Fellow of Girton College, University of Cambridge. Recently retired, Robertson is now Professor Emeritus at City University, and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Computer Science at UCL.

The first recipient of the £500 prize will be named from the finishing cohort of UCL Digital Humanities MA/MSc students in November 2014, and the prize will continue for 5 years in the first instance. We thank Microsoft, and Stephen Robertson, for their generosity.

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