Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Google's Knowledge Graph to make search more 'human'

To a computer, a string of characters is just that - a string of characters. Thus, queries don't always return the results a user expects, because when a user thinks, for example, of "Giants," he may be thinking of the San Francisco Giants, the New York Giants, or fee-fye-foe-fum Giants. The computer doesn't get that.

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Google on Wednesday launched something that is supposed to help its search get you the results you want. It's called the "Knowledge Graph," and it began rolling out Wednesday afternoon for some users in the United States.

Typical of Google's changes to search, it will push out gradually to users, and will eventually be available on both desktop and mobile searches. It will first be available in English.

The term graph, in this case, isn't the kind of graph you might be thinking of. Google isn't speaking of a chart, but rather the mathematical graph, which is an "abstract representation of a set of objects where some pairs of the objects are connected by links. "

As Google puts it, the Knowledge Graph links "real-world entities and their relationships to one another: things, not strings." Knowledge Graph currently contains over 500 million objects, as well as more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these different objects.

For example, as shown above, if you search for the Taj Mahal, you'll be presented with the typical list of search results on the left. On the right, however, you'll find a list of possible interpretations of that "string," "things, in other words, such as the Taj Mahal monument, the musician Taj Mahal and the Taj Mahal casino.

Google says that Knowledge Graph will help you:
  • Find the right thing (natch)
  • Get the best summary (not just the topic but details around it)
  • Go deeper and broader (answer your next question before you’ve asked it, help you discover "a new fact or new connection that prompts a whole new line of inquiry")
Google says Knowledge Graph will make its search engine think more like a human. Though as humans ourselves, we sometimes wonder if that's such a good thing.

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