Professor Alistair Moffat

  • Room: Level: 09 Room: 9.26
  • Building: Doug McDonell Building
  • Campus: Parkville

Research interests

  • Data structures and algorithms for compression
  • Data structures and algorithms for string search
  • Information retrieval and web search

Personal webpage


Alistair Moffat completed a BSc(Honors) and PhD in 1979 and 1986 respectively, both at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Since then he has been a member of the academic staff at the University of Melbourne, where he holds an appointment as Professor of Computer Science (2002). Alistair was Head of the University's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering for a five-year term from 2007 to 2011, and Associate Dean (Curriculum) in the Melbourne School of Engineering during the period 2007-2009.

Alistair has extensive research interests in the areas of text and index compression, source coding methods, and information retrieval. He is an author of three books (Managing Gigabytes, 1994 and 1999; Compression and Coding Algorithms, 2002; and Programming, Problem Solving and Abstraction with C, 2003); and of more than 150 refereed technical papers. Alistair has also served roles as Chair and Program Chair of a range of conferences, and as an Associate Editor of research journals, including Journal of Information Retrieval, and ACM Transactions on Information Systems.

Alistair was awarded an Australian Carrick Citation for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the first round of these awards in 2006, and has also been recognized within the University for his teaching contributions. In 2010, he received a Teaching Award from the Melbourne School of Engineering for excellence in teaching, and in recognition of his role as principal architect of the School of Engineering's response to the Melbourne Model changes undertaken between 2006 and 2009.

Alistair has served a term on the ARC College of Experts (2003-2005); was a member of the 2012 New Zealand PBRF Panel; and has been a member of a wide range of review and accreditation committees, both internal and external to the University.

Alistair has been teaching programming to undergraduate students at the University for more than 32 (100000 in binary!) years, and has influenced an entire generation of Engineering and Science graduates. Some of his students in recent years have been the children of people that he taught programming to in the 1980s.

Recent publications

  1. Krishnan U, Billerbeck B, Moffat A, Zobel J. Abstraction of query auto completion logs for anonymity-preserving analysis. Information Retrieval Journal. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 2019. DOI: 10.1007/s10791-019-09359-8
  2. Pibiri GE, Petri M, Moffat A. Fast dictionary-based compression for inverted indexes. WSDM 2019 - Proceedings of the 12th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining. 2019. DOI: 10.1145/3289600.3290962
  3. Wicaksono A, Moffat A, Zobel J. Modeling user actions in job search. European Conference on Information Retrieval. Springer Verlag. 2019, Vol. 11437 LNCS. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-15712-8_42
  4. Salehi B, Spina D, Moffat A, Sadeghi S, Scholer F, Baldwin T, Cavedon L, Sanderson M, Wong W, Zobel J. A living lab study of query amendment in job search. 41st International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research & Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR). 2018. DOI: 10.1145/3209978.3210082
  5. Spina D, Maistro M, Ren Y, Sadeghi S, Wong W, Baldwin T, Cavedon L, Moffat A, Sanderson M, Scholer F, Zobel J. A preliminary comparison of job, talent, and web search. 9th Italian Information Retrieval Workshop (IRR). Rheinisch-Westfaelische Technische Hochschule Aachen * Lehrstuhl Informatik V. 2018, Vol. 2140.
  6. Thomas P, Moffat A, Bailey P, Scholer F, Craswell N. Better Effectiveness Metrics for SERPs, Cards, and Rankings. 23rd Australasian Document Computing Symposium (ADCS). Association for Computing Machinery. 2018. DOI: 10.1145/3291992.3292002
  7. Petri M, Moffat A. Compact inverted index storage using general-purpose compression libraries. SOFTWARE-PRACTICE & EXPERIENCE. John Wiley & Sons. 2018, Vol. 48, Issue 4. DOI: 10.1002/spe.2556
  8. Moffat A. Computing Maximized Effectiveness Distance for Recall-Based Metrics. IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON KNOWLEDGE AND DATA ENGINEERING. IEEE Computer Society. 2018, Vol. 30, Issue 1. DOI: 10.1109/TKDE.2017.2754371
  9. Moffat A, Petri M. Computing the Cost of Compressed Data. Encyclopedia of Big Data Technologies. Springer International Publishing. 2018. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-63962-8_57-1
  10. Albahem A, Spina D, Scholer F, Moffat A, Cavedon L. Desirable Properties for Diversity and Truncated Effectiveness Metrics. 23rd Australasian Document Computing Symposium (ADCS). Association for Computing Machinery Inc.. 2018. DOI: 10.1145/3291992.3291996
  11. Wicaksono A, Moffat A. Empirical Evidence for Search Effectiveness Models. 27th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM). Association for Computing Machinery. 2018. Editors: Cuzzocrea A, Allan J, Paton N, Srivastava D, Agrawal R, Broder A, Zaki M, Candan S, Labrinidis A, Schuster A, Wang H. DOI: 10.1145/3269206.3269242
  12. Moffat A, Scholer F, Yang Z. Estimating Measurement Uncertainty for Information Retrieval Effectiveness Metrics. ACM JOURNAL OF DATA AND INFORMATION QUALITY. Association for Computing Machinery Inc.. 2018, Vol. 10, Issue 3. DOI: 10.1145/3239572
  13. Wicaksono A, Moffat A. Exploring Interaction Patterns in Job Search. 23rd Australasian Document Computing Symposium (ADCS). 2018. DOI: 10.1145/3291992.3292004
  14. Moffat A, Petri M. Index compression using byte-ALIGNED ANS coding and two-dimensional contexts. 11th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining. Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). 2018, Vol. 2018-Febuary. DOI: 10.1145/3159652.3159663
  15. Yang Z, Moffat A, Turpin A. Pairwise Crowd Judgments: Preference, Absolute, and Ratio. 23rd Australasian Document Computing Symposium (ADCS). Association for Computing Machinery Inc.. 2018. DOI: 10.1145/3291992.3291995

View a full list of publications on the University of Melbourne’s ‘Find An Expert’ profile