`Fact`orize Your Search

| August 14th, 2009

Dygest and a hackday later, @sudheer_624 and I (@semanticvoid) are back with ‘dfacto’, codename for our latest search hack for Yahoo! Hackday Summer 2009.

I think that search is undergoing a paradigm shift – its no longer about who presents the best ten blue links but now more about presenting the answers upfront. Dfacto (pronounced as ‘de facto‘, Latin for ‘by [the] fact‘) is aimed at addressing this issue. A large percentage (nearly 68%) of queries are informational queries – one where the searcher knows what she’d like to do or find but does not know how this can be achieved. Dfacto is aimed primarily at addressing this class of queries by presenting a set of facts associated with the query/topic to the searcher. It uses natural language algorithms to get facts that are most “semantically” related to the query. In lay terms, it literally tries to understand your query and the results. I’ll save the algorithmic details for another post. The few examples below show how it works:

Disclaimer: This is a work in progress, so you might notice a few ‘facts’ that are irrelevant to the query.

Lets say the searcher is (losing hair and) looking for causes of hair loss. Normally he/she would need to click through a bunch of links to get an overview on the causes. This hack on the other hand makes life a bit easier by presenting the causes upfront (click to enlarge):

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'hair loss cause'

Along with the facts, we also list the source from where it was extracted. Alternatively, the searcher can also select a bunch of facts he/she thinks are relevant and refine the search. This in turn would yield a new set of ‘web results’ along with new refined and related ‘facts’.

Another example (one which I particularly like) is a query about ‘table manners’. This precisely lists a set of etiquette’s to follow at the table (click to enlarge).

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'table manners'

Alternatively, Dfacto also serves well as a product research tool. A query for ‘iphone 3gs’ yeilds (click to enlarge):

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'iphone 3gs'

On another note, if you have a date in the coming weeks you might be interested in reading the list below (:

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'first date tips'

Happy hacking!

  • Sudheer

    Awesomeness.. :)

  • http://www.goer.org/ Evan Goer

    The first two are surprisingly good.

  • karan parikh

    Uber Cool!!

  • http://www.yahoo.com Swapnil

    This is very interesting and can add a lot of value to the user. Keep refining!

  • tejaswi

    accurate, wonderfully-formed sentences, and the system seems to perform very well on atleast 3 different kinds of search queries (which is a big number in the search world)

    Cant wait for the algorithm