Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Allan Receives Amazon Research Award for Enhancing Conversational E-Commerce Search

James Allan

Professor and Chair of the Faculty James Allan has recently been chosen to receive an Amazon Research Award, a grant program that funds outstanding, innovative research proposals. 

Allan was selected for his proposal, “Explanation of Product Facets for Conversational Search.” Motivated by the recent success of voice-based intelligent personal assistants, his work aims to develop search models that can provide users with personalized and session-based answers and play an active role in eliciting users’ needs. The work is in collaboration with Razieh (Negin) Rahimi, a postdoctoral researcher in the college.

Allan and Rahimi intend to achieve these results by designing conversational models that explain product features (“facets”), particularly by presenting their advantages and disadvantages. Instead of simply repeating the options for a facet from product descriptions, the researchers aim to extend the search model’s capabilities to automatically extract feature descriptions from the product reviews. 

The ultimate explanation model “should consider several dimensions in extracting explanations from product reviews,” Allan explains in the proposal, including the importance of facets by considering the number of people (reviewers) who are disagreeing, the conviction of each stance, and how strongly people disagree.

The team will receive approximately $80,000 and an additional $20,000 in Amazon Web Services promotional credits for the grant.