The born of an idea - Paolo Ferragina

Paolo Ferragina

Full Professor

Department of Computer Science
University of Pisa
Largo Bruno Pontecorvo 3, I-56127 Pisa, Italy.

email: ferragina(AT)
phone: +39 050 22127.64
skype: paolo.ferragina
twitter: FerraginaTeach

  • My h-index is 24 on Scopus (and 2627 citations) and 35 on Google Scholar (with 5983 citations). [updated Nov 2016]
  • I'm leading the Advanced Algorithms and Application Lab (Acube), located at the Department of Computer Science, University of Pisa. We design and implement algorithms for compressing, indexing, searching and mining Big Data.
  • Research on Search Engines: I've got two Google research awards, in 2010 and 2012, on designing and applying a novel Semantic Annotation technology, known as TAGME (with its open source code), to several IR problems: Classification (ECIR 12), Clustering (WSDM 12), Social Network Analysis (ICWSM 15) and Query Disambiguation (WWW '16, ERD Challenge @ SIGIR '14). This algorithmic technology is nowadays the state-of-the-art in many entity-annotation tasks (WWW 13, WWW 15); it has been also awarded of the Working Capital Award by Telecom Italia (2010).
  • Research on Data Compression: Since June 2016 Google is supporting also our research on Information Theory and Data Compression, which last since 15 years. The project is called "From Brotli to personalized data compression" and recently got a Google Faculty Award too (2016).
  • Research on Compressed Data Structures: Yahoo! Research sponsored my promotion to full professor from 2007 to 2011, awarding my research on compressed data structures. Among my results on compressed data structures I mention the FM-index which surpassed the 1000 citations on Google Scholar and it has been mentioned also by the National Security Agency (NSA) as part of one of its screening tools (see page 35)!
  • I'm proud to have served my University as vice-rector on "Applied Research and Innovation" from November 2010 to October 2016. In this period, among the other achievements, we introduced the Phd Plus: a series of lectures on research valorization and entrepreneurship for Phd and Master students, and Faculties of the University of Pisa. The PhD Plus originated many start-ups that won several (inter-)national competitions and raised some millions worldwide. The PhD Plus got into the shortlisted projects of the Reimagine Education Award 2016 (Philadelphia, USA).
  • I collaborate(d) or consult(ed) on the theme "Algorithms for Big Data" with Google (Zurich), ST Microelectronics, Tiscali (Istella's search engine), Bassilichi, ENEL Foundation, ENEL Ricerche (Pisa), CERVED Group, Spazio Dati, Yahoo! Research (Barcelona).
Conferences and Projects
Bio Sketch

I am Professor of Algorithmics at the University of Pisa. I'm currently leading the Acube Lab, where we design algorithms for Big Data, with collaborations with companies worldwide: Google, Tiscali, Yahoo!, ST Microelectronics, ENEL, Bassilichi, CERVED, Spazio Dati.

My promotion to full professor was sponsored by Yahoo! Research, from 2007 to 2011. I teached at the Scuola Normale Superiore (2009-11) and I was one of the scientific coordinators of its research center Signum (2004-07).

From 2010 to 2016 I was Vice-Rector on "Applied Research and Innovation" at the Univresity of Pisa, in the same period I was the President of the IT Center, which is a competence center about Cloud and HPC for Dell and Intel, Xeonphi Centre for Intel, and recently Transform Data Center immersion for Microsoft. Among the other institutional duties, I mention: vice-chairman of the Department of Computer Science; member of the Patent Committee of the University of Pisa, member of the CdA of Consorzio QUINN; member of the Scientific Committee of the Fondazione Toscana Life Sciences.

I got my Laurea degree (summa cum laude, 1992) and my PhD (1996) in Computer Science from the University of Pisa, and my Post-doc from the Max-Planck Institut fur Informatik (Saarbrucken, 1997-98). From 1998 to 2000, I've been Assistant Professor at the University of Pisa; and from 2000 to 2007, I've been Associate Professor at the same University. I also spent various periods of research at IBM Research (Rome), AT&T Shannon Lab (NJ), Yahoo! Research (Barcelona), Google (NY), University of North Texas, Max Planck Institut fuer Informatik (DE), and Courant Institute at New York University (USA).

My research is mainly devoted to the design, analysis and experimentation of algorithms and data structures for storing, compressing, mining and retrieving information from Big Data. My research results received three US Patents (owned by Lucent, University of Pisa and Rutgers, Yahoo!) and some international awards: "Best Land Transportation Paper Award" from IEEE Vehicular Technology Society (1995); "EATCS Doctoral Dissertation Thesis Award" (1997); "Philip Morris Award on Science and Technology" (1997); "Research Capital award" from the University of Pisa (2002); Yahoo! faculty award (2007-2010); Working Capital Award (2010); Google research award (2010, 2012 and 2016). Currently, I have three more patents pending in the USA, three owned by Yahoo! and one by NYU. Our software system SMAPH won the ERD Challange @SIGIR2014 in the Short Track (query disambiguation).

I've been invited speaker of many international conferences and workshops on Algorithmics; in particular, I was a keynote speaker of CPM '04, SPIRE '05, ESA/ALGO 2010, SISAP '11, and Industral Track of ECIR 2012, DFG Priority Program 1307 "Algorithm Engineering" (Germany) and the DIITET 2015 National Conference of CNR (Pisa).

I'm serving in the Editor Board of the Journal of Graph Algorithms and Applications (JGAA), and I was in the Steering Committee of the European Sympoium on Algorithms (ESA, 2012-2014) and I was one of the Area Editors of the Encyclopedia of Algorithms (Springer, Editor Ming-Yang Kao) for the topics "Data compression, String Algorithms and Data Structures". I served as (co)editor of special issues on the international journals: Theory of Computing Systems (June 2006), Theoretical Computer Science (November 2007), Information Retrieval (August 2008) and Theoretical Computer Science (November 2009).

I have served as PC member of many International Conferences on Theoretical Computer Science, specifically in the field of Algorithmics. I've been co-chair of International Conference on FUN with Algorithms (2004), DIMACS Workshop on the Burrows-Wheeler Transform (2004), Symposium on String Processing and Information Retrieval (2006), Symposium on Combinatorial Pattern Matching (2008), European Symposium on Algorithms-- Algorithm Engineering Track (2012), ACM Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (2013)

I (co-)authored more than 120 publications in international refereed conferences and journals on Theoretical Computer Science and Algorithmics. I have also authored one Italian book on Cryptography (Bollati Boringhieri, 2001 and 2007; now UniPI Press, 2015), and several chapters in books: just to mention a few, one chapter on "String search in external memory: Algorithms and data structures" in the Handbook of Computational Molecular Biology (CRC Press, Editor Srinivas Aluru, 2005), and one chapter on "Web Search" in the book On the power of algorithms (Springer, Editors Ausiello-Petreschi, 2013). For an updated list of my publications look at the CS Bibliographic Database, or via Google Scholar.