David Kirkpatrick

November 22, 2009

The search engine as teacher

Who’d a thunk it?!?

The release:

Search engines are source of learning

Search engine use is not just part of our daily routines; it is also becoming part of our learning process, according to Penn State researchers.

The researchers sought to discover the cognitive processes underlying searching. They examined the search habits of 72 participants while conducting a total of 426 searching tasks. They found that search engines are primarily used for fact checking users’ own internal knowledge, meaning that they are part of the learning process rather than simply a source for information. They also found that people’s learning styles can affect how they use search engines.

“Our results suggest the view of Web searchers having simple information needs may be incorrect,” said Jim Jansen, associate professor of information sciences and technology. “Instead, we discovered that users applied simple searching expressions to support their higher-level information needs.”

Jansen said the results of this study provide useful information about how search engine use has evolved over the past decade and clues about how to design better search engines to address users’ learning needs in the future. He and Brian Smith, associate professor information sciences and technology and Danielle Booth, former Penn State student, published their findings in the November issue of Information Processing and Management.

“If we can incorporate cognitive, affective and situational aspects of a person, there is the potential to really move search performance forward,” Jansen said. “At its core, we are getting to the motivational elements of search.”

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National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research funded this research.

November 18, 2009

Wolfram Alpha developing elements of AI?

Via KurzweilAI.net — This sure sounds a lot like artificial intelligence to me.

Innovation: The dizzying ambition of Wolfram Alpha
New Scientist Tech, Nov. 17, 2009

Stephen Wolfram wants Wolfram Alpha to generate knowledge of its own.

Alpha has been exposed to more utterances than a typical child would hear in learning a new language, allowing it to get smarter at understanding how people phrase their requests, he says.

“You’ll be able to ask it a question, and instead of it using knowledge that came out of a method invented 50 years ago it will invent a new method on the fly to answer it.”

 

Read Original Article>>

October 20, 2009

Twitter, Google, Microsoft, data mining and dollars

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:30 pm

Whew, that’s some title up there and it’s the highly distilled — Twitteresque, even — news that it looks like Twitter is about to monetize in a very painless way. Most likely both Google and Microsoft’s Bing search engines will cut data mining deals with Twitter to leverage the power of Twitter’s real-time searchable information stream.

From the link (in bold is from me) :

The intense rivals (Google and MS) are in separate talks with the new online darling Twitter to set up their own data-mining deals , says a report from The Wall Street Journal ‘s AllThingsD Web site. The “advanced talks” are said to be over licensing deals that would allow them to integrate real-time Twitter feeds with their search engines, Google’s search and Microsoft’s Bing.

None of the three companies would respond to requests for information about the reported negotiations.

AllThingsD reported today that the individual deals could mean upfront payments worth several million dollars, or involve revenue-sharing plans.

“Ah, this could be a way for Twitter to make some money , and maybe more than just a little money,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Co.

“It finally means a business model for Twitter, or at least the beginnings of one. And, of course, it means real revenue, which is very important. Not just in licensing revenue from Google or Microsoft, but also in potentially getting a piece of the action on an ongoing basis. So there could be considerable upside here for Twitter,” Olds said.

August 7, 2009

Microsoft cooks Bing search results

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:18 pm

Disappointing and potentially lethal to the popularity of Bing, Microsoft’s reworked and rebranded search engine. The ad campaign was working, the Yahoo deal complete and it looked like Microsoft was doing something right in the search space.

And now this.

From the link:

Case in point: a search on Bing for the phrase, “Why is Windows so expensive?” returned this as the top link….

“Why are Macs so expensive.”

That’s right. You’re not hallucinating. That was the top response on Bing to a question about the price of Windows.

But it’s not just the top link. The rest of the links on the first search page don’t get much better. There is one link about the price of vinyl windows (actual windows that you look out), one on why Windows hosting providers are so expensive, and one about fish. The five other links on page one are about the expensive price of Macs. The Windows client OS is not even mentioned.

If Microsoft is going to resort to blocking and self-protection with their search engine, they could at least be subtle. This is about as subtle as a machine gun.

Also from the link:

The first of the search results about the Microsoft Word question linked to a page about how expensive Manhattan is (Is Microsoft competing with Manhattan now?). The top responses to the “Is Microsoft Evil?” question were, get this, a link to a New York Times story about whether or not Google is considered evil, a link about proxy servers, and a link to a story about Microsoft being charitable. Wow.

To be fair Microsoft has responded search results are based on an algorithm, blah, blah …

The results found in the linked article are more than fishy, and Microsoft is under a pretty heavy burden in public perception to avoid looking like, well looking exactly as the Redmond behemoth does right now.

May 29, 2009

Microsoft announces Bing as new search engine

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:18 pm

Bing is the latest incarnation of Microsoft’s search engine space efforts. I really don’t see how this latest rebranding will do anything in terms of market share for the Redmond behemoth, but I guess it won’t do any real harm either. Google is just dominant and the brand new engine with brand new tech in Wolfram Alpha will continue getting all the buzz.

Just on timing and the overall feel we’ve seen this before, I’m going to say this is another misfire from Microsoft.

From the link:

Microsoft’s latest vehicle for achieving the elusive goal of Web dominance is Bing. Previously known as Kumo while in development, Bing replaces Microsoft’s Live Searchbrand and carries forward the company’s strategy for taking on Google and Yahoo. Besides introducing a new look to Microsoft’s search interface, Bing adds a spruced-up navigation for search results, including a new left-hand navigation bar, a hover feature that lets users preview Web pages before visiting them, and a categorized search feature that groups search results by topic category.Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer publically demonstrated Bing for the first time Tuesday at the D: All Things Digital technology conference. Bing goes live to the public beginning on June 3; it will be phased in over the course of several days.

May 21, 2009

Ten Wolfram Alpha easter eggs

If you’ve never heard of them before, easter eggs are little hidden bits of fun, features or information in video games, applications, DVDs, books or other objects.

The latest in search/computational engine technology, Wolfram|Alpha, is no exception.

Here’s ten fun easter eggs that have been uncovered so far.

Number eight from the list, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference:

Wolfram The Answer Image

April 28, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha launches blog

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:10 pm

No, the engine hasn’t launched yet but the blog has and should be a great clearinghouse for information pre- and post-launch.

From the link:

Our teams are working hard to meet our goal of having Wolfram|Alpha ready for you in just a few weeks.

Since Stephen Wolfram’s initial announcement, we’ve had the opportunity to show Wolfram|Alpha to some of the thousands of you who contacted us. Many interesting questions surfaced. We plan to use this blog to address those questions and the many more we expect you’ll have as you think about how you too can use Wolfram|Alpha.

April 7, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:06 pm

This sounds incredibly cool. So much so that I happned to catch the Kurzweil tweet in the middle of the night last night and immediate hit the site to sign up for updates. If I end up getting a sneak preview I’ll be sure to do a new post.

For those who aren’t familiar with Stephen Wolfram, he’s the guy behind Mathematica, among other feats of computational genius.

From KurzweilAI.net:

Wolfram|Alpha: Searching for Truth
H+, April 6, 2009

“[Computational knowledge engine] Wolfram|Alpha will raise the level of scientific things that the average person can do,” Stephen Wolfram told computer scientist/science-fiction writer Rudy Rucker.

“People will find that the world is more predictable than they might have expected. Just as running Google is like having a reference librarian to help you, running Wolfram|Alpha will be like having a house scientist to consult for you.”

Audio interview

 
Read Original Article>>

January 10, 2009

Search engines contribute to medicine

Believe it or not.

The release from yesterday:

Digital Communication Technology Helps Clear Path to Personalized Therapies

LA JOLLA, Calif., January 9, 2009 — Researchers at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) have shown that search algorithms used in digital communications can help scientists identify effective multi-drug combinations. The study, led by Giovanni Paternostro, M.D., Ph.D., was published in the December 26, 2008, issue of PLoS Computational Biology.

Using the stack sequential algorithm, which was developed for digital communications, the team of scientists searched for optimal drug combinations. This algorithm can integrate information from different sources, including biological measurements and model simulations. This differs from the classic systems biology approach by having search algorithms rather than explicit quantitative models as the central element. The variability of biological systems is the fundamental motivation for this strategy.

“Combination therapies have demonstrated efficacy in treating complex diseases such as cancer and hypertension, but it is difficult to identify safe and effective combination treatment regimens using only trial and error,” said Dr. Paternostro. “As personalized medicine moves from the present emphasis on diagnosis and prognosis to therapy, the problem of searching for optimal drug combinations uniquely suited to the genetic and molecular profile of each patient will need to be solved. This research is a first step in that direction.”

Current methodology for identifying effective combination therapies involves exhaustive testing. However, the exponential expansion of possibilities precludes exploring large combinations using this approach. For example, many chemotherapy regimens include six drugs from a pool of 100. A study that included all combinations (including partial combinations containing only some of these compounds) at three different doses would have to digest 8.9 x 1011 possibilities. The problem requires a new approach rather than more efficient screening technology.

In the study, a small subset of the possible drug combinations identified using the algorithms were tested in two biological model systems. One system studied improvement in the physiological decline associated with aging in Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) and the other system tested for selective killing of cancer cells. In both cases, effective drug combinations were identified by combining the algorithm with biological tests.

“Our work was greatly helped by collaborators with expertise in medicine, engineering and physics from Burnham, University of California, San Diego and Michigan State University,” said Dr Paternostro. “We especially benefited from suggestions from Dr. Andrew Viterbi, inventor of the Viterbi algorithm so widely used in digital communications, who pointed to parallels between this biological problem and signal decoding.” Dr. Andrew Viterbi cofounded Linkabit Corporation and Qualcomm Inc., with Dr. Irwin Jacobs. He is currently the president of the venture capital firm, The Viterbi Group.

This work was funded by the Ellison Medical Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

About Burnham Institute for Medical Research
Burnham Institute for Medical Research is dedicated to revealing the fundamental molecular causes of disease and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. Burnham, with operations in California and Florida, is one of the fastest growing research institutes in the country. The Institute ranks among the top four institutions nationally for NIH grant funding and among the top 25 organizations worldwide for its research impact. Burnham utilizes a unique, collaborative approach to medical research and has established major research programs in cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, infectious and inflammatory and childhood diseases. The Institute is known for its world-class capabilities in stem cell research and drug discovery technologies. Burnham is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation. For more information, please visit http://www.burnham.org.