CORE award for University professor

22 January 2014

Algorithms that enable powerful and intuitive searching of large data have earned a University of Sydney Information Technologies senior academic the 2014 Computing Research & Education (CORE) Chris Wallace Award for Outstanding Research Contribution.

Associate Professor James Curran,from the School of Information Technologies will be presented with the prestigious trans-Tasman award at the Australasian Computer Science Week (ACSW) conference in Auckland, New Zealand on 21 January 2014.

The professor's acclaimed research was initially published in two papers in the journal Artificial Intelligence, titled 'Evaluating entity linking with Wikipedia' 'Learning multilingual named entity recognition from Wikipedia'.

The work plays an important role how to automate the analysis of large volumes of textual data, said Alan Fekete, Professor of Enterprise Software Systems, who nominated Curran for the award.

"Large volumes of textual data are a central concern in the modern data-driven processes that are essential to the needs of business or science," said Fekete.

A system utilising the research has been developed by Professor Curran and his team in conjunction with Fairfax media. Dubbed 'Computable News' it is already being put into practise.

"It works by combining contextual evidence from documents mentioning an entity, with general knowledge extracted from sites such as Wikipedia and represents it as a graph over related entities," explains Professor Curran.

"When dealing with news items for example it has the ability to automatically recognise when the word 'Commonwealth' refers to the Australian government, or when it refers to a large bank, or when it refers to an international organisation," Professor Curran said.

The Computable News program is currently being used by Fairfax media in a number of reader interfacing applications, most recently its Fairfax Zoom.

It is also being adapted for analysing police reports by the Federal Attorney General's Department. Professor Curran leads a group of students and postdoctoral members of the Schwa Lab, where research work on large-scale corpus-driven parsing is being carried out. The C&C parser and tools were co-developed with Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities has been used by nearly 2,200 researchers in over 800 institutions across 100 countries.

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