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Google's Odd 'Synonyms' Search Solution

GalaxySpectrum [PersonRank 1]

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
12 years ago2,559 views

The latest post on Googleblog has information regarding their technological approach to solving the problems of search.

Particularly interesting is their approach to synonym search and concept search.

But the examples given are not 'synonyms' – they are abbreviations.

Don't they know the difference?
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   Synonyms are the foundation of our query understanding work. This is one of the hardest problems we are solving at Google. Though sometimes obvious to humans, it is an unsolved problem in automatic language processing. As a user, I don't want to think too much about what words I should use in my queries. Often I don't even know what the right words are. This is where our synonyms system comes into action. Our synonyms system can do sophisticated query modifications, e.g., it knows that the word 'Dr' in the query [Dr Zhivago] stands for Doctor whereas in [Rodeo Dr] it means Drive. A user looking for [back bumper repair] gets results about rear bumper repair. For [Ramstein ab], we automatically look for Ramstein Air Base; for the query query [b&b ab] we search for Bed and Breakfasts in Alberta, Canada. We have developed this level of query understanding for almost one hundred different languages, which is what I am truly proud of.

Another technology we use in our ranking system is concept identification. Identifying critical concepts in the query allows us to return much more relevant results. For example, our algorithms understand that in the query [new york times square church] the user is looking for the well-known church in Times Square and not for articles from the New York Times. We don't just stop at identifying concepts; we further enhance the query with the right concepts when, for instance, someone looking for [PC and its impact on people] is in fact looking for impact of computers on society, or someone who searches for [rainforest instructional activities for vocabulary] is really looking for rain forest lesson plans. Our query analysis algorithms have many such state-of-the-art techniques built into them, and once again, we do this internationally in almost every language we serve.
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Art-One [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I've just read it too. Very interesting. Could we call this AI yet?

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> for instance, someone looking for [PC and its impact on
> people] is in fact looking for impact of computers on society

Hardly! The person could just as easily be looking for the impact of Political Correctness on society.

So, Art-One, that's why we can't call it AI yet!

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