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Better search engine results thanks to new method

Date:
May 12, 2016
Source:
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA)
Summary:
How does Google decide which search results to display? One developer has created a new method by which dozens or even hundreds of search algorithms can be compared with each other simultaneously. This may mean that the best search algorithm can be selected faster than was previously possible.
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How does Google decide which search results to display? Doctoral candidate Anne Schuth developed a new method by which dozens or even hundreds of search algorithms can be compared with each other simultaneously. This means that the best search algorithm can be selected faster than was previously possible. Schuth will obtain his PhD from the UvA on 27 May.

A search query can turn up many webpages -- often in the millions -- with possible answers. Search engines such as Google are continually developing new algorithms to sort through all of those pages. In his research, Anne Schuth focused on developing methods to compare these search algorithms efficiently.

Interleaving vs. multileaving

One of the methods currently being used for this purpose is called 'interleaving'. In this method, two algorithms are compared by displaying their search results alternately in a single list of results intended for the search engine's user. The user, who is then unable to see where the results came from, merely clicks on the result which gives the preferred answer. With interleaving, it is possible to determine which of the two search algorithms led to the desired answer and thus to conclude which was the better algorithm. By repeating this process with millions of users, a reliable conclusion can be drawn as to the more effective algorithm.

'However, interleaving has one major limitation: only two search algorithms can be compared at once', says Schuth. 'So I spent part of my research developing a 'multileaving' method which does not have this limitation. With multileaving, several dozens or even hundreds of search algorithms can be compared with each other simultaneously by displaying their results alternately at the top of the user's screen. The preferred result is determined by interpreting user interaction.'

Schuth has shown that with this method, the best search algorithm can be found much more quickly. As a result, these algorithms will be available to more quickly, which means they can find the answer to their search query sooner. In any event, large companies such as Bloomberg, Netflix and Yandex are already using Schuth's multileaving method.


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Materials provided by Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


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Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). "Better search engine results thanks to new method." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160512085222.htm>.
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). (2016, May 12). Better search engine results thanks to new method. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 8, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160512085222.htm
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). "Better search engine results thanks to new method." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160512085222.htm (accessed May 8, 2017).