Web Search Engines

Monday 5:00-7:00
Room WWH 102
Professor Ernest Davis

Reaching Me

Prerequisites: None.

Required Textbook: Introduction to Information Retrieval by Christopher Manning, Prabhakar Raghavan, and Hinrich Schütze, (MRS) Cambridge U. Press, 2008.
Available online .

Strongly recommended: Lucene in action by Otis Gospodnetić and Erik Hatcher, Manning Pubs, 2005.

Other useful books: Search Engines: Information Retrieval in Practice by W. Bruce Croft, Donald Metzler, and Trevor Strohman. In particular, this has more about web search engines specifically (as opposed to information retrieval generally) than MRS.

Information Retrieval: Implementing and Evaluating Search Engines by Stefan Büttcher, Charles L.A. Clarke, and Gordon V. Cormack. Includes very in-depth discussion of data structures and algorithms for indexing.

List of course topics:

We will discuss the design of a Web search engine and the extraction of information off the Web. Topics include


Problem sets (20%)
Programming assignments (15%)
Project (25%)
Final exam (40%)

Class email list

You should be automatically subscribed to the class email list.

Course Schedule


Homework 1. Due: Feb. 22
Programming assignment 1: Indexing and retrieval. Due: Feb. 22
Homework 2. Due: Mar. 7
Programming assignment 2: Crawler. Due: Mar. 21
Project proposal. Due: Mar. 21.
Homework 3. Due: Mar. 28
Programming Assignment 3: PageRank. Due: Apr. 11
Homework 4. Due: Apr. 18.
Project Due: May 2

Final Exam

The final exam will be Monday, May 16th, 5-7, WWH 102.


You may discuss any of the assignments with your classmates (or anyone else) but all work for all assignments must be entirely your own. Any sharing or copying of assignments will be considered cheating. By the rules of the Graduate School of Arts and Science, I am required to report any incidents of cheating to the department. My policy is that the first incident of cheating will result in the student getting a grade of F for the course. The second incident, by GSAS rules, will result in expulsion from the University.