Who got that job?

April 15, 2005

Richard Barker has landed the job of promoting what promises to be one of the most powerful research tools available to UK academics.

The National Centre for Text Mining, a world first, is a £1 million joint initiative between the universities of Manchester, Salford and Liverpool. Mr Barker started the job in November and the centre was launched last month.

"This was the first launch event I've ever organised but I'm pleased to say that it all went very well and we were able to attract some of the leading researchers in the field," he said.

With popular publication services adding about 40,000 documents every month, researchers find what they need using electronic searches only about 12 per cent of the time.

Unlike popular commercial engines, text mining makes sense of search terms and what the searcher is really after. "Search engines find keywords but don't understand them. They are getting a bit fuzzy these days," Mr Barker said.

"Text mining extracts known terms and relationships and stores them in a database. Because the database knows the meaning and relationships of terms it can understand the text. Our aim is to establish high-quality, free service provision for the UK academic community, but we also aim to be commercially self-sustaining once funding expires."

Mr Barker has ten years' experience of teaching computer science at degree level and previous experience as a process engineer for a computer chip manufacturer.

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