The World Wide Web (WWW) abounds with ever-increasing information on many topics. However, since every user has specific information needs and interests, only a tiny part of the WWW is useful to them. For example, in a family, a mother may wish to "find recipes with salmon as the main ingredient", the father may be interested in "what movie to watch tonight?", and the teenage daughter may be wondering "what is artificial intelligence?". In order for humans to quickly ‘retrieve’ relevant information of interest, they usually search the Web using a search engine such as Google.
Although it sounds simple, information retrieval is a complex field involving many sub-tasks and applications. According to "the father of information retrieval", Gerard Salton, information retrieval is the field concerned with the tasks of structure, analysis, organization, storage, searching, and retrieval of information. Applications include, but are not limited to, web search (i.e., searching the WWW) which is the most common type, where the search is specialized in a specific topic only (e.g., searching for shoes within the football topic implies someone looking for football shoes), enterprise search, which involves searching for documents in a corporate intranet, image search, which is searching for images similar to a given image, product search, which involves searching for products similar to a given product, desktop search, which is searching for relevant files in our personal computer, or mobile search, which typically takes location and time into account. Users can be searching for different kinds of items, such as webpages, emails, scholarly papers, books, news stories, or even social profiles. Furthermore, with the advent of new technologies and modalities like virtual reality, it is likely that the scope of information retrieval will only increase with time.
Regardless of the type of search and the type of the returned item, the goal of every information retrieval algorithm is to take a search query as input, and to quickly find and output a ranked list of relevant items, i.e., items that contain information that the user was looking for. For example, in our family example, the mother may submit a query of the form "find recipes with salmon" and the expected result is an ordered (ranked) list of recipes containing salmon, ordered by how relevant each recipe is to the query. Although a straightforward approach would be for a retrieval algorithm to simply compare the query text with the recipe text, this approach will not always work due to language ambiguity. For example, when someone submits a query containing the single word "jaguar" it is very difficult for any algorithm to determine whether the user is looking for documents about jaguar the animal or jaguar the vehicle brand. To be effective, an information retrieval system needs to pay special attention to the meaning of queries rather than the actual words used in them.
Along with ambiguity, information retrieval faces a number of important challenges e.g., dealing with unstructured information, ensuring that it takes each user's context and expectations into account when returning the results, and dealing with scalability (e.g., search engines typically index and search almost instantly, billions of items, in order to answer each user's query, along with answering more than a trillion queries per year). Researchers are continuing to address these challenges.
- Pigi Kouki
Google is finally going on the record with its once-secret Project Dragonfly, a censorship-friendly search engine for the people of China. Speaking at the Wired 25 Summit, Google CEO Sundar Pichai not only confirmed the existence of the project but also boasted about how well testing of the search engine was going. "It turns out we'll be able to serve well over 99 percent of the queries," Pichai said of search results in the testing, pushing back on the controversy surrounding a product that must adhere to the Chinese-government's strict censorship laws. The Google CEO went on to give an example of how beneficial the service will be for the Chinese people, pointing out that current Chinese search products can return "fake" info for a query like "cancer treatments." "There are many, many areas where we would provide information better than what's available," explained Pichai.
Google is ending a controversial practice in Europe where it requires smartphone makers seeking to pre-install Google's app store to also add other Google apps, such as search and Chrome. Instead, Google will allow device manufacturers to pre-install the Google Play Store on a stand-alone basis, and offer the option to pre-install Google's other proprietary apps for an extra, unspecified fee. The company's announcement Tuesday came ahead of an Oct. 29 deadline to comply with a European Union antitrust decision, which saw regulators slap the company with a $5 billion fine for bundling its apps in an allegedly anticompetitive manner. Google is fighting the order but is working to meet its terms, because not doing so by the deadline could risk further penalties. In making their decision, antitrust officials in Europe had said that Google's practice of tying the apps together could harm competition by giving Google a built-in advantage over new apps struggling to attract an audience.
Google on Monday finally confirmed a secretive project that's been fueling an employee-led backlash for weeks at the company: an effort to build a version of its search engine that complies with China's online censorship regime. The project, code-named Dragonfly, is not only real but is already performing to the satisfaction of top Google executives. And it could pave the way for Google to reenter China's online search market after nearly a decade. "If Google were to operate in China, what would it look like? What queries will we be able to serve?" chief executive Sundar Pichai said during an event hosted by Wired on Monday night.
Google CEO Sundar Pinchai has said a separate, censored version of its search engine for the Chinese market has undergone several successful internal tests. The comments are the first time Google has officially confirmed it is working on the search engine, dubbed Project Dragonfly, which has been criticised heavily by human rights organisations. Pinchai defended the decision of working on a search engine which will censor any results critical of the Chinese government by saying providing some information is better than providing no information at all. "We are compelled by our mission [to] provide information to everyone, and [China is] 20 percent of the world's population," the Google CEO said during the Wired25 conference, as reported by the organiser, Wired. "People don't understand fully, but you're always balancing a set of values," he continued, adding that the company will try to provide information in any market it enters.
When Google's chief privacy officer admitted to the Senate that the company is working on a secret project called'Dragonfly,' he refused to say what it is. According to previous reports, Dragonfly is the codename for the censored search engine Google has been developing for China since 2017 -- a search engine that can automatically identify websites banned by the country's infamous firewall and can remove them from the results page. Now, Google chief Sundar Pichai has openly confirmed the search engine's existence at the Wired 25 Summit and even told the audience that its development is going very well. "It turns out we'll be able to serve well over 99 percent of the queries," he said on stage. The executive defended the project, telling people that Google is "compelled by [its] mission [to] provide information to everyone," but it also has to follow the laws in every country.
Google's internal tests developing a censored search engine in China have been very promising, CEO Sundar Pichai said on stage on Monday as part of the WIRED 25 Summit. "It turns out we'll be able to serve well over 99 percent of the queries," that users request. What's more, "There are many, many areas where we would provide information better than what's available," such as searching for cancer treatments, Pichai said. "Today people either get fake cancer treatments or they actually get useful information." While onstage at the event, Pichai did not back away from Google's controversial decision to build a censored search engine in China.
Facebook is the most popular social media platform used by businesses. Facebook Pages help your brand or business promote and share its value-add and to assist in customer support. Facebook remains the primary platform for most Americans. Two-thirds of U.S. adults now report that they are Facebook users and 74 percent of Facebook users say they visit the site daily. Despite the recent criticism of Facebook's data privacy practices, both daily and monthly users are up 13 percent year-over-year.
Like Rome, query understanding can't be built in one day. Implementing holistic understanding, reductionist understanding, and resolution is a lot of work, and as a search team you can always find room to improve all of these. But if you're not already looking at query understanding in this framework -- or if you're not looking at query understanding at all -- I urge you to consider it. It won't reduce the challenges, but it will help you tackle them in stages.
In an age where it seems nearly every major internet service is looking to hawk your personal data, one pro-privacy search engine is experiencing massive growth. DuckDuckGo, which bills itself as "the search engine that doesn't track you," has just hit 30 million daily searches. According to the company, this is a new daily record for the search engine. DuckDuckGo makes its traffic stats publicly available in an effort to be as transparent as possible. This new company record is about a 50% increase from its record of over 20 million searches in 2017.
Google is secretly planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China within the next year, a leaked transcript seems to reveal. According to The Intercept, Google's search engine chief Ben Gomes held a meeting in July to discuss the progress of a new search engine, dubbed Project Dragonfly. The platform would blacklist words and phrases like "human rights," "Nobel Prize," and "student protest," in order to conform with China's strict censorship laws. "You have taken on something extremely important to the company," Mr Gomes told the Google employees, according to the transcript obtained by the publication. But I do think a very important and worthwhile one.