Google and Semantics: More Puzzle Pieces Revealed

May 6, 2008

On May 5, 2008, Search Engine Round Table carried an interesting post, “Google Improves Semantic Search”. You can find the post here. The key point is that Google is using truncation “to stem complex plurals”. SEO Round Table points to the Google Groups thread as well. That link is here.

Google’s been active in semantics for a number of years. In 2007, I provided information to the late, great Bear Stearns’ Internet team. Based on my work, Bear Stearns issued a short note about Google’s semantic activity. This document may be available from a Bear Stearns’ broker, if there is one on the job.

An in-depth discussion of five Google semantic-centric inventions appears in Google Version 2.0. This analysis pivots on five patent applications filed in February 2007. A sole inventor, Ramanathan Google, describes a programmable search engine that performs semantic analysis and stores various metadata in a context server. The idea is that the context of a document, a user, or a process provides important insights into the meaning of a document. If you are a patent enthusiast, the five Guha inventions are:

    US2007 00386616, filed on April 10, 2005, and published on February 15, 2007 as “Programmable Search Engine”

    US2007 0038601, filed on August 10, 2005, and published on February 15, 2007, as “Aggregating Content Data for Programmable Search Engines”

    US2007 0038603, filed on August 10, 2005, and published on February 15, 2007, as “Sharing Context Data across Programmable Search Engines”

    US2007 0038600, filed on August 10, 2005, and published on February 15, 2007, as “Detecting Spam-Related and Biased Contents for Programmable Search Engines”

    US2007 0038614, filed on August 10, 2005, and published on February 15, 2007, as “Generating and Presenting Advertisements Based on Context Data from Programmable Search Engines”.

These patent documents don’t set a time table for Google’s push into semantics. It is interesting to me that an influential leader in the semantic standards effort invented the PSE or programmable search engine. Dr. Guha, a brilliant innovator, demonstrates that he is capable of doing a massive amount of work in a short span of time. I recall that he joined Google in early 2005, filing more than 130 pages of semantic systems and methods in less than nine months. I grouped these because filing five documents on the same day with each document nudging Google’s semantic invention forward from slightly different angles struck me as interesting.

Stephen Arnold, May 7, 2008


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