INFORMATION SCIENCE

Information retrieval

Information retrieval (IR), often studied in conjunction with information storage, is the science of searching for information in documents, searching for documents themselves, searching for metadata which describe documents, or searching within databases, whether relational stand-alone databases or hypertextually-networked databases such as the World Wide Web.

There is a common confusion, however, between data retrieval, document retrieval, information retrieval, and text retrieval, and each of these has its own bodies of literature, theory, praxis and technologies.

IR is, like most nascent fields, interdisciplinary, based on computer science, mathematics, library science, information science, cognitive psychology, linguistics, statistics, physics.

Automated IR systems are used to reduce information overload. Many universities and public libraries use IR systems to provide access to books, journals, and other documents. IR systems are often related to object and query. Queries are formal statements of information needs that are put to an IR system by the user. An object is an entity which keeps or stores information in a database. User queries are matched to objects stored in the database.

A document is, therefore, a data object. Often the documents themselves are not kept or stored directly in the IR system, but are instead represented in the system by document surrogates.