Microsoft Research is testing a search toolbar that utilizes an experimental search result clustering (SRC) technique to automatically categorize search results into groups by topic. But Microsoft isnt the only one who sees potential in the feature; America Online this week implemented clustering into its revamped AOL Search.
Clustering brings a semblance of order to search results, which are traditionally arranged by their ordinal ranking without much emphasis on making navigation more convenient.
When toolbar users enable clustering, queries are passed through a back-end clustering server, sent to a search engine to retrieve results, and subsequently re-formatted for display. Results are displayed in two columns: The first lists topics; the other details the contents of each heading.
Microsoft Research Asias Web Search and Mining Group has engineered the SRC algorithm to efficiently scan for distinct and independent keywords so that clusters can be formed "on-the-fly."