Team NUS-SoC Wins US$100,000 at International Search Engine Competition


A team that includes two recent multimedia graduates from NUS School of Computing has trumped their rivals from China, Japan, France and the United States to win the Grand Finals of The Star Challenge@Fusionopolis.

For their effort, Victor Goh Hai Kiat and Neo Shi Yong, along with their team-mate Li Haojie, walked away with the prize money of US$100,000. Shiyong and Victor pursued their graduate studies in Computer Science with SoC, with Shiyong obtaining his PhD in 2008, and Victor his MSc in 2007.

Haojie, the third man on the team, is their fellow research for the Lab of Media Search at NUS. The finals of the competition were held on 23 Oct 2008.

Neo Shi Yong, Li Haojie, Victor Goh Hai Kiat at the competition site

Competing in the digital world of “Second Life”, the team had to overcome virtual obstacles to win clues that would help them solve the ubiquitous problem of multimedia search.

Using new technologies and algorithms that they had created for the competition, the teams performed voice and video search tasks on a multilingual database in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.

The solutions are novel in that today’s traditional existing search engines are text-based and, as such, can locate only multimedia material that has been tagged in text.

As tagging is laborious, it is not routinely done, and the tagging that does occur is generally not of high quality and consistent.

Asked about their winning feat, Victor had this to say: “We are absolutely elated to win the Star Challenge! We would like to thank Prof Chua Tat Seng and all who have supported us….We are pleased with the end results as well as honoured to be up against so many worthy contestants. The next generation multimedia retrieval technology is on its way out!"

The winners (wearing lanyard) with their mentor Prof Chua Tat Seng (holding crystal trophy) and staff of Laboratory for Media Search

Next-generation multimedia search technologies, such as those demonstrated by the NUS-SoC team at the competition, are expected to transform how the public will interact with rich-media material.

The impact of such technologies are potentially great, considering the exponential growth of multimedia content and the proliferation of user-generated platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Flickr.

The Star Challenge@Fusionopolis was organised by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

A total of 56 teams from 17 countries had entered this global competition when it began 10 months prior to the Grand Finals.

The contestants included search engine enthusiasts as well as several of the world’s top laboratories.

All of the contestants own the Intellectual Property to their technologies.

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Last Modified on: 2 December 2008

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