David Hawking


I'm a retired (as of 16 March 2018) Information Retrieval researcher based in Canberra, Australia. Most recently I was an Applied Researcher in the Bing (Microsoft) team.

I was a member of the editorial board for the Information Retrieval journal (IRJ) for all of its first 20 volumes. I hold an honorary professorship in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University.


From 2008 to 2013 I worked at the Funnelback enterprise search company in the role of Chief Scientist.

Between 1998 and 2008 I was a research scientist at CSIRO.

From 1996 to 2003 I was a coordinator of VLC and Web tracks in the annual Text Retrieval Conference (TREC).  The activities of these tracks are summarised in Chapter 9 of the MIT Press book (Ellen M. Voorhees and Donna K. Harman (Ed.s), TREC - Experiment and Evaluation in Information Retrieval, ISBN 0262220733.). From 2007 to 2011 I was a member of the Scientific Board of the Information Retrieval Facility in Vienna. I was a Program Chair of ACM SIGIR in 2003 and again in 2006.  In 2003 I was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. In 2005 I was awarded the Chris Wallace prize for Computer Science research at the Australasian Computer Science Week. In 2012 I was named as joint winner of the Tony Kent Strix award.


Well into my retirement I realised that my love of research and writing (both English and code) had not expired with cessation of paid employment. In 2019/2020 I wrote a lot of code, which led to the first book, a research monograph, in the list below.

Simulating Information Retrieval Test Collections

By David Hawking, Bodo Billerbeck, Paul Thomas and Nick Craswell, published by Morgan & Claypool (royalties to Médecins Sans Frontières).

The History of ANU Computing: A Cast of Characters; An Array of Machines; A Record of Achievement

By David Hawking. A history of computing at ANU compiled to mark the 50th anniversary (on 02 March, 2021) of undergraduate Computer Science teaching at ANU.

Europe on Five Ideas a Day

By David Hawking. A travel book mostly written in 1991 about European trips in 1979, 1982 and 1985. Although now much less useful as a guide, the book is even more interesting due to the massive changes which have occurred in the 40+ years since the first journey. Released in 2020 after addition of many photographs, a preface, and an afterword. Available for free download in pdf and ePub formats.

Funnelback and Me. Search is Life!

By David Hawking. A history of the web and enterprise search engine Funnelback, and the research and commercialisation activity which led up to it. Released in 2021 on the 30th anniversary of the first work on what became the Funnelback technology. Available for free download in pdf format.