PROF Alistair Moffat

PROF Alistair Moffat


  • Data structures and algorithms for compression
  • Data structures and algorithms for string search
  • Information retrieval and web search



  • Alistair Moffat completed a BSc(Honors) and PhD in 1979 and 1986 respectively, both at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Since then he has been a member of the academic staff at the University of Melbourne, where he holds an appointment as Professor of Computer Science (2002). Alistair was Head of the University's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering for a five-year term from 2007 to 2011, and Associate Dean (Curriculum) in the Melbourne School of Engineering during the period 2007-2009.

    Alistair has extensive research interests in the areas of text and index compression, source coding methods, and information retrieval. He is an author of three books (Managing Gigabytes, 1994 and 1999; Compression and Coding Algorithms, 2002; and Programming, Problem Solving and Abstraction with C, 2003); and of more than 150 refereed technical papers. Alistair has also served roles as Chair and Program Chair of a range of conferences, and as an Associate Editor of research journals, including Journal of Information Retrieval, and ACM Transactions on Information Systems.

    Alistair was awarded an Australian Carrick Citation for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the first round of these awards in 2006, and has also been recognized within the University for his teaching contributions. In 2010, he received a Teaching Award from the Melbourne School of Engineering for excellence in teaching, and in recognition of his role as principal architect of the School of Engineering's response to the Melbourne Model changes undertaken between 2006 and 2009.

    Alistair has served a term on the ARC College of Experts (2003-2005); was a member of the 2012 New Zealand PBRF Panel; and has been a member of a wide range of review and accreditation committees, both internal and external to the University.

    Alistair has been teaching programming to undergraduate



Member of

  • Association for Computing Machinery. Professional 1980 - 2020


Selected publications


Investigator on

Additional Grant Information

  • Alistair has been a CI on several Australian Research Council Discovery Grants and on one ARC Linkage Grant:

    DP190101113, New Approaches to Sessional Search for Complex Tasks, with Falk Scholer and Shane Culpepper;
    LP150100252, User-Adaptive Search and Evaluation for Complex Information Seeking tasks, with Lawrence Cavedon, Mark Sanderson, Falk Scholer, Tim Baldwin, Justin Zobel, Wilson Wong (, and Evelyn Balfe (;
    DP140103256, Data Retrieval from Massive Information Structures, with Tony Wirth;
    DP110101934, Principles, Practice, and Pragmatics of Measurement in Experimental Computer Science , with Justin Zobel, and Tim Baldwin;
    DP110101743, Efficient and Effective Algorithms for Searching Strings in Secondary Storage , with Simon Puglisi, Tony Wirth, Andrew Turpin, and Shane Culpepper;
    DP0880065, Static and Dynamic Query Pruning Techniques for Complex Text Retrieval Systems , with Vo Ngoc Anh;
    DP0772078, Methodologies for Designing and Evaluating Information Retrieval Experiments , with Justin Zobel;
    DP0452062, Dynamic Index Maintenance for Text Search Engines , with Justin Zobel; and
    DP0343724, Effective Information Retrieval for Partitioned Document Collections .   


Education and training

  • PhD, University of Canterbury 1986
  • BSc (Hons), University of Canterbury 1979

Awards and honors

  • Teaching Excellence Award, Melbourne School of Engineering, University of Melbourne, 2010
  • National Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Excellence and Learning in Higher Education, Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 2006



Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • I supervise projects in the areas of information retrieval mechanisms including indexing and compression, and information retrieval evaluation, including metrics and user models. Yes, I know that is terribly broad, that is the intention; for a more precise rendering of recent activity, browse my recent publications at

    If you are a prospective graduate research student, feel free to send me an email that has your CV and transcript of previous study (including a listing of subjects and marks) attached, and with an email body that makes it clear that you have looked at and browsed some of my papers. I may not reply to what are obviously bulk-sent form emails that don't meet those expectations.