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.



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:

    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

  • Projects are currently available in the areas of string search and pattern matching on very large texts; and in the area of experimental measurement in the computing sciences (yes, I know that is very broad, that is the intention).