Information retrieval (IR) is a crucial aspect of computer science which deals with the organization, storage, retrieval, and evaluation of information from a large collection or database. The main objective of IR is to select relevant and necessary data that satisfy the user’s information need from a large and unstructured collection, typically text-based. IR systems, which are designed for this purpose, are not concerned with the processing of data or creation of new information but specifically focus on providing the user with the best possible set of items responding to their query.
The effectiveness of an information retrieval system is often determined by two key aspects: recall and precision. Recall illustrates the completeness of a system’s answer set – or in other words, out of all the relevant items in the database, what proportion did the system successfully retrieve. Precision is concerned with the system’s ability to filter out irrelevant items in its answers, focusing on the proportion of retrieved items that are indeed relevant. Therefore, an effective IR system would aim to maximize both recall and precision.
Common examples of information retrieval systems include search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, as well as digital libraries and e-commerce product recommendation systems. The advent of the internet era and the subsequent explosion of digital data has only heightened the importance of effective and efficient IR systems. To enhance the IR’s performance, many modern IR systems incorporate complex machine learning, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence techniques.« Back to Glossary Index