Haystack Project

The Haystack project aims to develop new tools to help people organize, manipulate, and retrieve all the information they encounter on a day to day basis. A major focus is personalization, adapting over time to the specific information needs and preferences of individual users.

The research combines ideas from databases, human-computer interaction, and machine learning. We explore database tools to build a data representation rich and flexible enough to record all the information any individual consider important, and in particular make heavy use of Semantic Web technology for manipulating richly structured information on the world wide web. We apply ideas from human-computer interaction to develop interfaces that can present that rich data model and let the user work with it. And we apply ideas from machine learning to help the system observe and adapt to the preferences and perceptions of its user. We've built a number of tools including the Haystack "universal desktop client" for managing any kind of information you care about, an Ajax tool called Exhibit for creating fancy interactive web pages without any programming, and the "Jourknow" system for managing those scraps of information that don't seem to fit anywhere. You can find out more about these and other projects at the Haystack project page at http://haystack.csail.mit.edu .

We have openings for self-motivated MEngs who are interested in extending the capabilities of the system at all layers---the database back-end, the machine-learning core, or the user interface. Initiative is key as MEngs are given substantial flexibility to choose their own project. You will join a team of 6 graduate students and 5 undergraduates already working on the project.

Applicants should email Prof. David Karger (karger@csail.mit.edu)