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March 07, 2007

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John Milan

Hi Don,

Question for you: what's the rate of these killer research demos actually making it to market? There seems to be a popular notion that much of the cool stuff at events like Tech Fest never see the light of day, or are 'folded into shipping products'.

Would you be able to comment on that?

Ian Parker

What about Latent Semantic Analysis and indexing with words in context. you wont get precision searching unless the documents themselves are correctly indexed.

Don Dodge

Ian, You are correct that the index must be deeply analyzed and meta data added for the search results to improve.

There are many Microsoft researchers working on Latent Semantic Indexing and search techniques. Susan Dumais, and many others have published papers in scientific journals on this subject.

I spoke to the people at Powerset a few weeks ago and that is exactly where most of their NLP technology is being applied. Parsing a 2 or 3 word query with NLP doesn't yield significantly better results. But, if the index is parsed, and lots of NLP metadata added, the results are impressive.

I think it is safe to say that the brightest minds in the industry at all the big companies are working on these issues. They are conceptually easy to understand but very difficult to implement at web scale.

Ian Parker

I think it is safe to say that the brightest minds in the industry at all the big companies are working on these issues. They are conceptually easy to understand but very difficult to implement at web scale.

I can see that it is difficult web scale. However remember that the founder of the company Bill Gates at one point said don't worry about resources, Moore's law will take care of that! If you have 80 core processors (<100w) with a combined power of a teraflop that will do LSA web scale for you.

Another approach is to use the idle time of computers, effectively to turn every PC into a server. BOINCs have been used for SETI and also for global warming. It is clear that computing power must be combined in a proper way with a proper operating system without BOINCs.

This would also lead to a far more robust Internet than we have currently. There are great benefits in a Grid quite aopart from this peoblem. Yes I know this is being worked on.

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