Thursday, July 22

SIGIR 2010 Industry Day: Search Flavours at Google

Search Flavours: Recent updates and Trends
Yossi Matias
Director of Israel R&D Center, Google

Solution for the search problem: imitate a person

Wish list
- knows everything
- language agnostic
- always up to day
- context sensitive
- understands me
- Good sense of timing
- Good sense of scope
- Smart about interaction

(Suggest answers to questions I didn't ask or didn't ask accurately)
In short, things we expect from people when we interact from experts or friends. This is subtle.

Demo of things
- auto suggest of weather; an intelligent guess at what the user will ask
- flight information for ua 101
- weather in the suggestion
- This is new because the user does not have a chance to finish the question
- How do we understand the feedback when they don't have any feedback (except to maybe stop typing)

- Being local [restaurant] (implicit context)
- world cup (now is a general answer, but a week or two ago it was very different)
- new forms of information: user generated content in real-time, Twitter
- [whale] it turns out there was a whale jumping on the ship
- Google trends shows hot topics

Greater Depth With Real-Time
- Example of an earthquake.
- Two minutes after an earthquake, tweets were surfacing in the results before a formal announcement

-- quick slide showing a chart, which he's not going into

Social Circle Personalization
- someone I know blogs about something or a picture, surface it

Understanding: What does Change mean?
- change = to adjust (adjust the brightness) , or convert, or switch all depending on the context

Paul McCartney Concert
- uploading real-time video from the concert
- A few may be good, but we don't want 300 clips all from the same concert

Web translation
- language agnostic
- NY Times translated into china
- translated search
- automatic captioning (translation of obama speech to add arabic captions)

Search by voice... any Voice
- People are starting to use it.
- How do you do it for any person, any language?
- The combination of voice search and translation is almost like science fiction
- This is a significant technology worth paying attention to

Search by Sight
- Google Goggles
- Mobile is important for contextual understanding (location)
- Phones are starting to take on behavior of smart agents
- 10 or 20 results are not useful on a smart phone, "im feeling lucky" is important

The power of data
- 1.6 billion Internet users
- A billion searches a day on Google worldwide
- He started working in ML and data mining
- From a research perspective there is a massive benefit of working with it


- how to leverage trends of data, such as user search to derive insights
- Trends over time, location, etc.
- Identify outbreaks of flu: find queries that correlate with CDC reports
- Google could predict the outbreak two weeks ahead of CDC, a heads up of something happening now.
- Nowcasting: forecasting the present based on information from the past
- Hal Varian: Predict economic indicators before they were published by the Govt.

Real Estate
- Using stastical models to provide up to the minute information on where we are on economic indicators for sectors of real-estate.
- It doesn't always work, but it's helpful

2010 World Cup - new Search
- popularity of David Villa, etc...
- South Africa, and sponsors getting attention

Researching Search Trends Time-Series
- Forecasting. Seasonality is a common case. Many queries have strong seasonal components (yearly/ weekly cycles)
- we can use time-series prediction models to forecast
- (e.g. skiing, sports)

- Define notions of how predictable and regular the search queries are
- About half the search queries are predictable in a 12 month ahead forecast with a mean abs prediction err of 12% on average

Health, Food & Drink, and .. are quite seasonal.

- Categories are more predictable than individual queries

Deviation from modeled prediction
- US automative industry, forecasting: august o8 - July 09
- The maintance and parts was ahead of forecast, new sales were below

See papers (a big long list...)
What can search predict? many publications by Hal Varian

There is no API, but it is possible to download. They are encouraging collaboration with researchers.

Big themes of the talk:
- real-time is expected ('local'), mobile access

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