In an enlightening NY Times report, Google let in John Batelle, the chief executive of Federated Media, to chat with Mr Amit Singhal and Udi Manber, Google's very elite engineers aka Google Fellows.
Some of the main highlights of the article are:
The evolution of search: As Mr Singhal puts it, "Search over the last few years has moved from Ă˘â‚¬ËśGive me what I typedĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ to Ă˘â‚¬ËśGive me what I want."
Debug : When Bill Brougher, a Google product manager, informed Singhal that the keywords Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“teak patio Palo AltoĂ˘â‚¬Âť did not give results of a shop called teak patio in Palo Alto, "Mr. Singhal fired up one of GoogleĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s prized and closely guarded internal programs, called Debug, which shows how its computers evaluate each query and each Web page. He discovered that Theteakpatio.com did not show up because GoogleĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s formulas were not giving enough importance to links from other sites about Palo Alto.Within two months of Mr. BrougherĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s complaint, Mr. SinghalĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s group had written a new mathematical formula to handle queries for hometown shops. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“
Freshness: Freshness explains how many recently created or changed pages are included in a search result, is at the center of a constant debate in search: Is it better to provide new information or to display pages that have stood the test of time and are more likely to be of higher quality? Until now, Google has preferred pages old enough to attract others to link to them. Mr Singhal unveiled his teamĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s solution: a mathematical model that tries to determine when users want new information and when they donĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t. (And yes, like all Google initiatives, it had a name: QDF, for Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“query deserves freshness.Ă˘â‚¬Âť)Ă˘â‚¬Âť. An example of "Freshness" in Mr Singhal's words,Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“When there is a blackout in New York, the first articles appear in 15 minutes; we get queries in two seconds.
Before joining Google, Mr Amit Singhal, originally an Indian worked in AT & T Labs, whereas Udi Manber was recruited to Google from Amazon. The entire article is a must read for an interesting insight into the world of Google's search unit.