Algorithms sound complicated

I realized “Google it!” had become one of the most popular phrases in today’s culture when I heard my father say it to my younger brother when he was failing at explaining how to fix a flat tire over the phone.

It is a fact that Google has immediate answers for almost every question we can think of and that we have all become dependent of having knowledge just a click away.

What happened if

During this week’s reading, ‘The Algorithm’, in Planet Google: How a company is transforming our lives, Randall Stross (2008) writes:

“An algorithm is the set of rules for solving a particular problem; it’s the essential building block used in constructing complex computer software.”

As complicated as algorithms sound (and they are in fact very sophisticated) they can be explained as computer programs that look for clues to give you back exactly what you want.” If not for algorithms, for every question we type on a search engine, millions of webpages would appear instead of relevant information in response to our question.

From complicated algorithms to answers the power of Google’s search engine relies on algorithms that have over 200 “clues” to actually guess what the answer to each question is and what the user is really looking for. As discussed during this week’s lecture, Algorithms have been changing over the years, improving and being modified constantly to provide a better service to users.  The following is a video of Google experts explaining the evolution of search:

Google’s present to the world

15GOOGLEDOODLE

On September 27th, Google turned 15 years old. The famous search engine celebrated its birthday with a lovely Piñata Google Doodle  and a present to all Google users:  a huge update in its search algorithm called Hummingbird.

Hummingbird is the first major update that the company has released in three years providing an improved service for Google fans. The new Algorithm makes search easier and is capable of answering longer questions, complex information, spoken requests and comparisons.

The name of the new search algorithm means “precise and fast” like a Hummingbird and it combines the 200 “clues” that I mentioned earlier and new technological elements that allow users to ask more complex questions and receive answers.  Danny Sullivan, “search engine guru” published an article in  Search Engine Land that explains how Google’s new algorithm “is a new engine built on both existing and new parts, organised in a way to especially serve the search demands of today, rather than one created for the needs of 10 years ago, with the technologies back then.”

Hummingbird

It was no long ago when we would turn on our enormous PC, plug a cable to the home line, listen to the dial tone and then enjoy expectantly two or five minutes (depending on the connection) of alien sounds. After 15 minutes we were “Online” chatting for hours on ICQ and researching our homework on good old Google, AOL or Yahoo. But technology is exponential and the tools that we enjoy today don’t require patience nor time, today everything is fast, instantaneous.

Hummingbird is part of the exponential development of search and technology. Google is leading the way making significant changes and adding new features that affect 90% of searches. With the changes made to the search algorithm, Google can:

  • Answer follow-up questions
  • Use the Knowledge Graph for comparison and filters
  • Provide a search app on iPhones and iPads that allows users to sink all their devices.
  • Deliver a ‘better look’ on phones and tablets.

Amit Singhal, Senior VP and software engineer at Google says

We’ll keep improving Google Search so it does a little bit more of the hard work for you. This means giving you the best possible answers, making it easy to have a conversation and helping out before you even have to ask. Hopefully, we’ll save you a few minutes of hassle each day. So keep asking Google tougher questions—it keeps us on our toes! After all, we’re just getting started.”

 This blog post was written to honor Google’s 15th anniversary.

If you (like me) love Google, can’t live without it and feel interested on finding out how the Google algorithm works click on the link bellow:

http://www.google.com.au/intl/en/insidesearch/howsearchworks/thestory/

So what do you think? complicated but interesting right? Please comment on this blog post and tell me what think about Algorithms and how they contribute to make your life easier! They sure have helped me while researching for this blog!

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