A Visual Tool For Information Retrieval

Ph.D. Research and Thesis at MIT, 1995

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The completion of this thesis has been a long journey and could have not been accomplished with the generous help and support of many people.

I would like to especially thank the following people:

Ÿ    Richard Marcus, my thesis supervisor, for his guidance and unconditional support that has its own magic. He helped me to ground my research efforts more firmly by giving me a better foundation in the field of information retrieval.

Ÿ    Steve Lerman for providing me with an intellectual & academic home at MIT and guiding me in the resolution of many strategic and practical issues.

Ÿ    Paul Resnick for asking tough questions and for being a friend over the years.

Ÿ    Ron MacNeil for his gentle encouragement.

Ÿ    Thomas Sheridan, Jeremy Wolfe and the late Muriel Cooper for being there in the initial stages of this thesis.

Ÿ    Whitman Richards, without whom I would not have had the opportunity to study at MIT in the first place. I thank him for his continued belief in me.

Ÿ    Rudolf Marty from the Union Bank of Switzerland for providing me so generously with the financial support needed to conduct the research for this thesis. I am especially grateful to him for his willingness to take a risk and to pledge to support me at the very beginning when my research effort had not crystallized yet.

Ÿ    Hans-Peter Frei from the UBILAB of the Union Bank of Switzerland for deciding to continue to support my research efforts and for his constructive and valuable feedback on the content of the thesis work.

Ÿ    Elka Spoerri for her love and dedicated support over so many years:
"Elka, we have made it - the mission is completed. I THANK YOU !"

Ÿ    Pamela Robertson-Pearce for having journeyed with me for all this time.
I thank her for her love & emotional support, for encouraging me to do what I really cared for and helping me to express my artistic creativity.

Ÿ    Noah Fisher and Joel Fisher for their support.

Ÿ    David Charron and Heather Mapstone from the MIT Licensing Office for helping me coin the name InfoCrystal for what I had created.

Ÿ    Neil Strickland from the Mathematics Dept. at MIT and the staff at the MIT Libraries for their help to locate literature showing how Venn diagrams with N sets could be generated.

Ÿ    Lynne Bolduc for being there for me in the last two years while I was giving birth to the InfoCrystal.

Ÿ    The members of the Center for Educational Computing Initiatives (CECI) for giving generously of their time for the user studies and for creating a friendly working environment.

Ÿ    Chris King and Peter Yao, who helped with the implementation of the InfoCrystal software as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program at MIT.

Ÿ    All the people who have appeared in my life in the last year to enrich it and who have acted as catalysts in my transformation.

Ÿ    Carol Evans for guiding me through the emotional rapids I had to move through and for helping me to face and realize myself. 

Ÿ    Last, but definitely not least, my father Theodor Spoerri, who unfortunately died much too young for both of us and whom I miss terribly: "Thedi, this Ph.D. and its thesis are a tribute to you and the immense loss I feel. I had entered academia in search of you, only to realize that nobody can take your place and all that is left for me to do is to learn by myself how to express the fire within."