Monday, March 09, 2009

Searching Search Like a Yandex

Let me introduce Yandex. It's an interesting search engine because it precedes Google. In fact, Yandex was founded in the late 1980s, before the advent of the Web. What is interesting is that Yandex is a classic case study that Google is not the end all and be all of search. Google may be good in English, but how does it fare in multilingual searching. (Remember: English is only a fraction of the Internet's languages).

What is interesting is that Yandex's search algorithm is rooted in the highly inflected and very peculiar Russian language. Words can take on some 20 different endings to indicate their relationship to one another. Like the many other non-English languages, this inflection makes the language of Russian precise, but makes search extremely difficult. Google fetches the exact word combination you enter into the search bar, leaving out the slightly different forms that mean similar things. However, Yandex is unique in that it does catch the inflection. Fortune has written an interesting article on Yandex, and my favourite part is its examination into the unique features of this Russian search giant:

While some of its services are similar to offerings available in the U.S. (blog rankings, online banking), it also has developed some applications that only Russians can enjoy, such as an image search engine that eliminates repeated images, a portrait filter that ferrets out faces in an image search, and a real-time traffic report that taps into users' roving cellphone signals to monitor how quickly people are moving through crowded roads in more than a dozen Russian cities.


Anonymous said...

Really interesting. I confess that I didn't even know there was such a search engine, but the precise controls on this one are remarkable.

Thanks for always having such great content on your blog!

Allan said...

Thanks for your kind words. Search engines are changing rapidly. It's a science and art in itself to keep up!