Prof Alan F. Smeaton

Prof. Alan SmeatonProfessor Alan F. Smeaton, Ph.D., M.Sc., F.I.C.S. 

Since 1997 Alan Smeaton has been a Professor of Computing at Dublin City University. Prior to that he was a Senior Lecturer and before that he was a Lecturer at DCU. He joined DCU (then NIHED) in 1987 having completed his PhD in UCD under the supervision of Prof. Keith van Rijsbergen. He also completed an M.Sc. and  B.Sc. at UCD. 

In 1994 Alan Smeaton was the chair of the 17th ACM SIGIR Conference which he hosted in Dublin, and in 2001 he hosted an NSF-DELOS Workshop on Personalisation and Recommender Systems, also in Dublin. He hosted the second conference on AI and Cognitive Sciences in DCU (1989), he was program co-chair of the ACM SIGIR Conference in Toronto in 2003 and general chair of the Conference on Image and Video Retrieval (CIVR) which he hosted in Dublin in 2004.  In 2005 he hosted the European Summer School in Information Retrieval in Dublin and was also program co-chair of the International Conference on Multimedia and Expo in Amsterdam. In 2009 he was program co-chair of ACM MultiMedia Modeling conference in Sophia Antipolis, France and in 2010 co-chair of the program committee for CLEF-2010 in Padova, Italy.

Alan has published over 300 book chapters, journal and refereed conference papers as well as dozens of other presentations, seminars and posters and he has a Google Scholar h-index of 35. He was an Associate Editor of the ACM Transactions on Information Systems for 8 years, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Document and Text Management, and is presently a member of the Editorial Boards of Information Retrieval, Information Processing and Management, Foundations and Trends in Information Retrieval, the Journal on Digital Libraries and the ACM Journal on Computers and Cultural Heritage. Since 1989 he has served on over 170 separate program committees for conferences or international workshops and has also refereed papers for 29 different journals, many of them on numerous occasions, and in a range of disciplines.

Alan has graduated nearly thirty M.Sc. and PhD research students since 1991. He has acted as examiner for PhD theses in other Universities on 30 occasions, and has assisted the European Commission since 1990 in dozens of advisory and consultative roles, both as an evaluator or reviewer of project proposals and as a reviewer of ongoing projects. His full CV lists 35 separate “missions” in which he reviews either on-going projects, project proposals, or proposals for research programmes for the European Commission in programmes such as ESPRIT, LRE, Language Engineering, Information Engineering, MLAP, LTR, INCO-Copernicus and IST FP5, FP6 and FP7. He has also carried out reviews for 11 different research councils throughout 4 continents.

Alan has received best paper awards for papers at STAIRS2002 Lyon, France, and IMVIP1998. In 2002 he was awarded the DCU President's award for "outstanding research carried out in the field of Science and Engineering" and in 2009 he received the DCU Leadership Circle award.

In the late 1990s Alan was founding Director of the Centre for Digital Video Processing, a University-designated research centre which was a predecessor of CLARITY, and he led to where it has a compliment of 45 full-time researchers and a world-class reputation. He was Dean of the Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences from 1998 to 2004 and was Head of the School of Computing (a School with 45 Faculty) from January 1999 to December 2001 during which he led and managed the growth of the School to where it doubled its student intake.

Alan holds 6 patents and has three invention disclosures. In 2001 he, with colleagues from DCU, formed a campus company, Aliope Ltd., in order to commercialise some of the research of his group. Aliope grew to have 11 employees at its height before being bought out by another company.

Apart from his publication, his involvement in conference and workshop organization and his international collaborations, Alan is probably best-known internationally for his involvement in TREC and in TRECVid. TREC is an annual international benchmarking exercise for text retrieval related applications which has been on-going since 1991. Alan was part of the founding program committee of TREC and was involved in organizing TREC until the emergence of a spin-off activity, TRECVid, in 2001. TRECVid completed its 10th annual cycle in 2010 and involved over 100 research groups and collaborations with more than 1,000 individual researchers worldwide in benchmarking and evaluating performance of video analysis and video retrieval tasks. Alan is founding coordinator of TRECVid, which is supported by the US Disruptive Technology Office (DTO) (formerly ARDA/DARPA), who fund the operation of the program though the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), while Alan, with colleague Wessel Kraiij from TNL (NL), coordinates the activity.  Alan Smeaton is a member of the ACM and the IEEE Computer Society and is a Fellow of the Irish Computer Society.

Academic Lecturing
Phone Number: 
Email Address:

Research Group: 
Dependable Systems
Associated Research Centres: 
Research Centre for Big Data Analytics (INSIGHT)
Research Interests: 

Alan’s early research interests covered the application of natural language processing techniques to (text) information retrieval but this then broadened to cover the indexing and content-based retrieval of information in all media, text, image, audio and especially digital video and now the focus of his work is in information access for all kinds of human digital memory applications. His major research funding is in the area of information analysis and access, particularly for digital video, and he has also received funding for research into digital libraries, music IR and in web searching. His research has received funding from the European Union under the ESPRIT, LTR, Information Engineering, Language Engineering, VALUE, Libraries, FP5/6/7 programmes as well as from national funding agencies (National Software Directorate, Forbairt/Enterprise Ireland Informatics Programme and Science Foundation Ireland) and from industry. 

Alan’s research is now entirely focused on the sensor web and on sensor technologies and he is Deputy Director of the CLARITY CSET. He leads a research team at DCU of 40 researchers working in areas including lifelogging, video analysis, summarization and search, data aggregation in environmental sensor networks, collaborative search techniques, data fusion from sensor networks and using sensors in media applications.