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Google just dropped some knowledge on search


Sorry what’s that Bing? Oh you integrated social with search? Very cute. Now let the big boys show you how it’s really done.

Google today announced a new search model that it claims “understands real-world entities and their relationships to one another”

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The internet giant calls the new model “The Knowledge Graph” and says that it is built on the premise that when we’re searching we’re looking for “things not strings”.

In order to understand what it means by this, let’s say you’re looking up Taj Mahal. To a search engine, it’s just two words. That’s more or less the way things have been for the past four decades.

But, as Google notes, to a human it “has a much richer meaning. You might think of one of the world’s most beautiful monuments, or a Grammy Award-winning musician, or possibly even a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Or, depending on when you last ate, the nearest Indian restaurant”.

What Google is trying to do with Knowledge Graph is get closer to that human level of understanding.

According to Google senior vice president of engineering Amit Singhal:

The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about—landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more—and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query. This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do.

While Knowledge Graph does use public sources such as Wikipedia, Freebase, and CIA World Factbook to get this kind of context, Singhal claims it goes further than that:

[Knowledge Graph] is also augmented at a much larger scale — because we’re focused on comprehensive breadth and depth. It currently contains more than 500-million objects, as well as more than 3.5-billion facts about and relationships between these different objects. And it’s tuned based on what people search for, and what we find out on the web.

Jeez, not even Stephen Fry knows 3.5-billion facts.

For now, Google says that Knowledge Graph enhances search in three main ways:

1. Find the right thing
Language can be ambiguous—do you mean Taj Mahal the monument, or Taj Mahal the musician? Now Google understands the difference, and can narrow your search results just to the one you mean—just click on one of the links to see that particular slice of results.

This is one way the Knowledge Graph makes Google Search more intelligent — your results are more relevant because we understand these entities, and the nuances in their meaning, the way you do.

2. Get the best summary
With the Knowledge Graph, Google can better understand your query, so we can summarize relevant content around that topic, including key facts you’re likely to need for that particular thing. For example, if you’re looking for Marie Curie, you’ll see when she was born and died, but you’ll also get details on her education and scientific discoveries:

How do we know which facts are most likely to be needed for each item? For that, we go back to our users and study in aggregate what they’ve been asking Google about each item. For example, people are interested in knowing what books Charles Dickens wrote, whereas they’re less interested in what books Frank Lloyd Wright wrote, and more in what buildings he designed.

The Knowledge Graph also helps us understand the relationships between things. Marie Curie is a person in the Knowledge Graph, and she had two children, one of whom also won a Nobel Prize, as well as a husband, Pierre Curie, who claimed a third Nobel Prize for the family. All of these are linked in our graph. It’s not just a catalog of objects; it also models all these inter-relationships. It’s the intelligence between these different entities that’s the key.

3. Go deeper and broader
Finally, the part that’s the most fun of all—the Knowledge Graph can help you make some unexpected discoveries. You might learn a new fact or new connection that prompts a whole new line of inquiry.

Knowledge Graph will be rolled out to US English-speaking users first and is also integrated into mobile search. In fact, if anything, the mobile form is even cooler. You can tap the Knowledge Graph to get more relevant and useful information and you can ” the rows of images to explore more related content”.

Your move Microsoft.

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