James Allan

Professor & Chair of the Faculty
202 CS Building
(413) 545-2742


Information retrieval, event-based information organization, minimally interactive retrieval and organization.


Professor Allan's research focuses on ways to organize and search large collections of scanned books, explorations of how novelty can be incorporated into retrieval algorithms, techniques for representing and retrieving video segments, methods for recognizing controversial topics on the Web, and approaches for collecting search log information without sacrificing user privacy.


Ph.D., Computer Science, Cornell University (1995), M.S., Computer Science, Cornell University (1991), A.B., Mathematics, Grinnell College (1983). Professor Allan joined the Computer Science Department of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1994 and has run through a number of titles, most recently Professor as of 2008. He is currently serving as Chair of the Faculty and is co-Director of the CenterĀ for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR). He previously spent five years as a systems programmer/analyst at Dickinson College and has been a partner in a software services company.

Activities & Awards

Professor Allan serves on program committees for major conferences in the area (SIGIR, CIKM, WSDM, etc), has been an associate editor of ACM's Transactions on Information Systems (TOIS) journal and Elsevier's Information Processing and Management (IPM) journal, and has served as chair of the SIGIR organization. He is currently on the editorial board of Foundation and Trends in Information Retrieval. With his students, he received Best Paper awards in SIGIR in 2001 and in 2006.