What does it mean to "Measure Performance"?

Alistair Moffat
Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.

Justin Zobel
Department of Computer Science, RMIT, GPO Box 2476V, Melbourne 3001, Australia.


Proc. Fifth International Conf. on Web Informations Systems, Brisbane, Australia, November 2004, pages 1-12.


The purpose of much computer science research is to invent algorithms, and generate evidence to convince others that the new methods are worthwhile. All too often, however, the work has no impact, because the supporting evidence does not meet basic standards of rigor or persuasiveness. Here the notion of "experiment" is explored, with reference to our current investigation into distributed text query processing on a cluster of computers. We describe some of the issues that we encountered, and lessons that can be applied by researchers designing experiments in other areas of computing.