David Hawking


I'm a retired (as of 16 March 2018) Information Retrieval researcher based in Canberra, Australia. Most recently I was an Applied Researcher in the Bing (Microsoft) team.

I was a member of the editorial board for the Information Retrieval journal (IRJ) for all of its first 20 volumes. I hold an honorary professorship in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University.


Well into my retirement I realised that my love of research and writing (both English and code) had not expired with cessation of paid employment. In 2019/2020 I wrote a lot of code, which led to the first book, a research monograph, in the list below.

Simulating Information Retrieval Test Collections

By David Hawking, Bodo Billerbeck, Paul Thomas and Nick Craswell, published by Morgan & Claypool (royalties to Médecins Sans Frontières).

The History of ANU Computing: A Cast of Characters; An Array of Machines; A Record of Achievement

By David Hawking. A history of computing at ANU compiled to mark the 50th anniversary (on 02 March, 2021) of undergraduate Computer Science teaching at ANU.

Europe on Five Ideas a Day

By David Hawking. A travel book mostly written in 1991 about European trips in 1979, 1982 and 1985. Although now much less useful as a guide, the book is even more interesting due to the massive changes which have occurred in the 40+ years since the first journey. Released in 2020 after addition of many photographs, a preface, and an afterword. Available for free download in pdf and ePub formats.

Funnelback and Me. Search is Life!

By David Hawking. A history of the web and enterprise search engine Funnelback, and the research and commercialisation activity which led up to it. Released in 2021 on the 30th anniversary of the first work on what became the Funnelback technology.

My Superstar Wife: Kathy Griffiths ... and her family.

By David Hawking. Over a period of around 15 years from 2001, Kathy Griffiths and her colleagues at ANU’s Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHR) operated in a rare sweet spot for academic research. Winning tens of millions of dollars in funding, they were carrying out innovative, impactful, and influential research into e-mental health, collaborating with prestigious institutions across the globe, and delivering benefit to hundreds of thousands of sufferers of mental ill-health around the world. CMHR’s online interventions such as MoodGym, eCouch, and MHGuru have attracted users from over 190 countries and been translated into many different languages. Along the way CMHR influenced public policy on suicide and anti-depressants. During most of the period Kathy Griffiths was Director or Deputy Director of CMHR. Kathy’s remarkable research record has been achieved despite suffering chronic illness, including CFS and depression, for much of her working life.

This is the life story of a kind and caring, honest and honorable person, who always does the right thing and stands up for her family, friends and team members. A highly focused, extremely determined person, able to work more than a hundred hours a week and to continue pursuing important goals when other mortals dropped by the wayside.

Her life has not been endless grinding work. Many who have contributed to this book make mention of her kindness, her sense of humour, and the sound of her laughter. No matter how busy she was, she always found time to care for a friend or colleague in trouble. A wonderful mother who is very proud of her son Jack.

In retirement she has travelled widely, and completed several long distance walks. Throughout her life she has amused herself with music, needlecraft, mosaics, tapestries and knitting, inheriting the creativeness of her mother and maternal grandmother. Growing up on a sheep farm in Victoria, she followed other teens in putting up a poster in her bedroom, but the subject was Albert Einstein rather than the Fab Four.

Searching for origins of her character among her parents and ancestors, I found creativity, initiative, integrity, determination and achievement. But I also found remarkable stories of forebears heroically escaping bushfires, fighting in the Battle of the Somme, building pianos and furniture for Queen Victoria, constructing rocket ranges and atomic test sites, being cleared from the island of Taransay, being transported to Van Diemens Land, running a brothel in the goldfields, and registering as Victoria’s first female jockey.