What’s up?

Another historical moment for 904Labs

I’m very happy to share news on the latest success of 904Labs A.I. for Search with our new customer, eci.nl.

eci is one of the largest online book specialists in the Netherlands and Belgium, with an estimated yearly revenue of 15m euro for the Dutch part. For their site search, eci relied on a manually optimized Apache Solr, integrated into Intershop.

During a three-week A/B test we’ve shown a 38% improvement in revenue and a 34% increase in conversion rate compared to the in-house Apache Solr search engine. This shows once more that adding A.I. to your search engine really makes a difference! Read the full story here.


Keynote speech at AI2Future

AI2Future is a local, Croatian, initiative for disseminating the importance and for grounding the use of Artificial Intelligence. The conference brings together researchers, A.I. start ups, and large corporates from all around Croatia to share experiences and learn from each other on what A.I. can and cannot do.

I was invited to give one of the two keynote talks. The first keynote focused on conversational agents and natural language processing and mine followed up with insights how search powers a large spectrum of applications from search, question and answering, and recommendations. I focused on the work we do at 904Labs and illustrated the principles of online learning to rank through real-world examples from our experimences with our customers.

I got many questions after the talk which is a sign that the audience understood the topic and was intrigued by what A.I. can do for search. Some of the questions were brought to the following breaks with some of them leading to follow up meetings in the next days.

I much enjoyed the conference, and I hope that the organizers will follow up with another version next year. I believe that we do need more of this type of initiative to disseminate what A.I. is and A.I. can and cannot do so that organizations shape a better picture of how they can use it to solve challenges that they face.

DIR 2016

The Dutch-Belgian Information Retrieval Workshop was held this year in Delft. A nice lot of people from all around the Netherlands, Belgium, and a handful from abroad came together to share their research highlights from this year. It was a nice programme, filled with interesting short talks (about 15mins) that were great to give us a summary of what everybody is working on.

My personal highlight was Chato’s keynote speech on algorithmic bias. Although a lot is discussed on the topic, there is yet no to little work that presents some sort of foundation that describes the issue, frames it and offers some theoretical framework from which we can start thinking about solutions. Chato’s work laid the ground works on this area. He started with explaining what algorithmic bias is and stressed how coupled it is with data collection. I’m looking forward to seeing more on his work on the subject.

“Detecting Algorithmic Discrimination” by Carlos Castillo, presented at DIR 2016. Delft, the Netherlands.

SIGIR 2016

“Building a Self-Learning Search Engine: From Research to Business” presented at SIGIR 2016 Industry Track. Pisa, Italy.

This summer I was happy to be back at the Special Interest Group in Information Retrieval (SIGIR), this time, in Pisa, Italy. Last time I was at SIGIR was in Portland back in 2012, where I was presenting the work I did at Yahoo! Barcelona. SIGIR is the top international conference on search engines, and it’s always good fun to hear the latest developments and exchange new ideas.

This year I talked at the industry track where I shared my experiences from running a search startup in the Netherlands. I received positive feedback, and it was good to catch up with old friends and meet new people. If you want a short recap from the latest and greatest trends in search technology, read on my summary on 904Labs blog.