Susan Dumais

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Susan T. Dumais
Susan Dumais.jpg
Susan Dumais in 2009 in her office at Microsoft Research.
Alma materIndiana University
Bates College
Known forHuman Computer Interaction
Information Retrieval
AwardsACM-W Athena Lecturer Award (2014)
Scientific career
FieldsComputer Science
InstitutionsMicrosoft Research

Susan Dumais is an American computer scientist who is a leader in the field of information retrieval, and has been a significant contributor to Microsoft's search technologies.[1] According to Mary Jane Irwin, who heads the Athena Lecture awards committee, “Her sustained contributions have shaped the thinking and direction of human-computer interaction and information retrieval."[2]


Susan Dumais is a Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft and deputy managing director of the Microsoft Research AI in Redmond. She is also an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington Information School.

Before joining Microsoft in 1997, Dumais was a researcher at Bellcore (now Telcordia Technologies), where she and her colleagues conducted research into what is now called the vocabulary problem in information retrieval.[3] Their study demonstrated, through a variety of experiments, that different people use different vocabulary to describe the same thing, and that even choosing the "best" term to describe something is not enough for others to find it. One implication of this work is that because the author of a document may use different vocabulary than someone searching for the document, traditional information retrieval methods will have limited success.

Dumais and the other Bellcore researchers then began investigating ways to build search systems that avoided the vocabulary problem. The result was their invention of Latent Semantic Indexing.[4]


In 2006, Dumais was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. In 2009, she received the Gerard Salton Award, an information retrieval lifetime achievement award. In 2011, she was inducted to the National Academy of Engineering for innovation and leadership in organizing, accessing, and interacting with information. In 2014, Dumais received the Athena Lecturer Award for "fundamental contributions to computer science.".[5] and the Tony Strix Award for "sustained contributions that are both innovative and practical" with "significant impact".[6] In 2015, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[7]


  1. ^ "100 Top Women in Seattle Tech". Puget Sound Business Journal. 8 May 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  2. ^ Burns, Jay (28 October 2015). "Microsoft's Susan Dumais '75 Is a Big Reason Why, Computer-Wise, You Find What You Seek". Bates News. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  3. ^ G. W. Furnas, T. K. Landauer, L. M. Gomez, S. T. Dumais (1987). "The Vocabulary Problem in Human-System Communication". Communications of the ACM. 30 (11): 964–971. doi:10.1145/32206.32212.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ S. Deerwester, Susan Dumais, G. W. Furnas, T. K. Landauer, R. Harshman (1990). "Indexing by Latent Semantic Analysis" (PDF). Journal of the American Society for Information Science. 41 (6): 391–407. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-4571(199009)41:6<391::AID-ASI1>3.0.CO;2-9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-07-17.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Knies, Rob (April 2014). "Dumais Receives Athena Lecturer Award". Inside Microsoft Research. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  6. ^ "The winner of the 2014 Tony Kent Strix Award is Dr Susan Dumais". Archived from the original on 25 September 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  7. ^ Tice, Lindsay (28 October 2015). "Lewiston native inducted into American Academy of Arts and Sciences". Lewinston-Auburn Sun-Journal. Retrieved 23 February 2016.

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