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Strategic information retrieval - the mediator and agent perspectives

By Gregory Goren
Advisor(s): Prof. Oren Kurland and Prof. Moshe Tennenholtz
Academic Program: IS
Tuesday 18 August 2020, 11:00 - 12:00
In the Web retrieval setting, many document authors are "ranking-incentivized". That is, they are interested in having their documents highly ranked for some queries by search engines. To this end, they often respond to rankings by introducing modifications to their documents (a.k.a., search engine optimization). Hence, the retrieval setting is competitive.
A search engine can be considered as a mediator. It connects users with information needs (which are represented via queries) and document authors (agents) whose pages might satisfy the information needs of the users. This body of work tackles both the mediator perspective and the agent perspective in the competitive retrieval setting. We show an extensive analysis of the robustness of ranking functions to adversarial document manipulations. In addition, we devise an automatic model for ranking-incentivized, quality preserving document manipulations. Finally, we present an empirical analysis of the possibility of an herding effect in a competitive search setting. That is to say, the agents are choosing similar strategies without an explicit centralized direction.