Gerard Salton (1927 – 1995)


Salton was a pioneer in the field of information retrieval and machine learning and often called the father of digital search. He synthesized ideas from mathematics, statistics, and natural language processing to create a scientific basis for extracting semantics from word frequency.

At the peak of his achievements stood his Vector Space Model (VSM) which was used within his “SMART” Information Retrieval System. SMART (Salton’s Magic Automatic Retriever of Text) was developed in the 1960s and is considered the first digital search engine.

Fun facts:

  • Gerard Salton is often credited with developing the vector space model (VSM) for information retrieval (IR). Citations to Salton give the impression that the VSM must have been articulated as an IR model sometime between 1970 and 1975. However, the VSM as it is understood today evolved over a longer time period than is usually acknowledged, and an articulation of the model and its assumptions did not appear in print until several years after those assumptions had been criticized and alternative models proposed.[1]

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