Team from AUEB's Department of Informatics wins BioASQ prize

A team of AUEB's Department of Informatics was awarded a prize at the international challenge of biomedical question answering systems BioASQ 2019, for a second time, following last year's prize of AUEB’s team at the same challenge. This year's team was coordinated by Dimitris Pappas, who is a PhD student in AUEB's Department of Informatics, member of AUEB’s Natural Language Processing (NLP) Group and is also affiliated with the Institute for Language and Speech Processing of the Research Center “Athena”. This year's team also comprised George Brokos, who is a graduate of AUEB's MSc in “Computer Science” program and member of AUEB’s NLP Group, Google's researcher Ryan McDonald, who is a also an associate researcher of AUEB's NLP Group, and Assoc. Prof. Ion Androutsopoulos, head of AUEB’s NLP Group.

Systems participating in the challenge receive English questions formulated by biomedical experts and attempt, among other tasks, to retrieve relevant scientific articles, as well as specific snippets of the articles that answer the questions. AUEB's team had the best document and snippet retrieval results in the four evaluation batches it participated in. Each batch contained 100 questions. The team used deep neural network methods (deep learning) developed at the NLP Group of the Information Processing Laboratory of AUEB's Department of Informatics (article).

The annual BioASQ challenge provides datasets, evaluation infrastructure and sub-challenges intended to foster the development of Artificial Intelligence methods that will help biomedical experts extract relevant information from the evergrowing scientific literature and specialized databases. The BioASQ challenge started as a European research project (FP7 ICT, 2012-14) coordinated by the Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications of NCSR "Demokritos". AUEB's NLP Group participated in the research project and played a central role in the organization of the question answering sub-challenges. Since 2015, the BioASQ challenge continues with funding mostly from research organizations and the industry. In 2018 and this year, AUEB participated as a contestant. This year’s prizes were awarded at the BioASQ workshop of the 2019 European Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases (ECML-PKDD).

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