Understanding Queries

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-09-27 Print this article Print

On the query intent front, the Live Search team has invested in improving the services ability to read and understand queries in a way that more accurately determines user intent in spite of common problems such as spelling errors, punctuation and synonyms, so as to return the best results possible, he said. With query refinement, Microsoft has been aggressive with regard to related searches and spelling errors, and this update brings auto-correcting, when it is secure about the user intent, and also offers suggestions about the query.
The update also brings a new machine translation feature where, if a foreign language result is returned, the user can click to translate the page, and both the original and translated view are returned. Also, as the user moves his mouse over the original text, it is translated line by line.
"This is an area where Microsoft Research has been doing a lot of work, and we are looking to get to a place where we can do multilanguage queries and the like," Nadella said. Read here about the debut of three Windows Live mobile services. In addition, the new Live Search incorporates more user click-stream data to inform ranking and relevancy processes, yielding more relevant results across queries. "We use a multilayered neural network ranking algorithm that is loosely modeled on biological neural networks and brains that can learn patterns that simple algorithms cannot," Nadella said, noting that his team is working on this with Microsoft Research. Microsoft is also using its core search innovation work to extract structured data from unstructured text on the Web and power deep vertical experiences that update on the fly. Office Live adds Ask-sponsored listings to AdManager. Read more here. This technology extracts from across the Web information on products, businesses—including locations, contact information, photos, hours of operation, ratings and reviews—and celebrities, including images and videos, he said. Microsoft listened to users who told the company that they sometimes are just searching for a specific fact or answer. As a result, Live Search has an improved and more robust Answers platform, which provides specialized responses to queries about specific things such as weather, images, celebrities and entertainment, sports, and stocks. This specialized content has been more deeply integrated into the main search experience to add to custom searches such as images and mapping. "We have nearly doubled the coverage of instant answers from 5 percent of queries this summer to 10 percent of queries this month," Nadella said. Page 3: Microsofts Live Search Gets a Major Overhaul

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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