Sunday, January 11, 2009

Google doing "semantic search"?

A posting on Facebook by Frank van Harmelen drew my attention to the fact that Google now attempts to perform a kind of question answering. E.g., if you type "capital Poland" into the search box, the first result is as follows:

Poland — Capital: Warsaw 52°13′N 21°02′E / 52.217, 21.033
According to

The answer appears to be a straight lift from the relevant table in Wikipedia. But there are other instances where the answer appears to have been extracted from running text (not always correctly). E.g., if you type "Mick Jagger wife" you get:

Mick Jagger — Spouse: Jerry Hall
According to - More sources »

which is wrong, since Jerry Hall is one of his ex-wives. Ms Hall and Bianca Jagger are both mentioned as such in the referenced article, although each is described as as "ex wife", i.e. without the hyphen. It may be significant that Jerry Hall is mentioned after Bianca Jagger, thereby filling the slot perhaps.

Not sure how this is done or where this is going, or how long it has been going on. The first search result has previously been used to present a definition (e.g., try simply typing "e" - you get the mathematical constant), but this is the first time I have noticed relationships being presented.