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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Google and the Evolution of Search: Human Evaluators


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For many years, Google on its Explanation of Our Search Results page, claimed that "a site’s ranking in Google’s search results is automatically determined by computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page’s relevance to a given query." Then in May of 2007, that statement changed: "A site’s ranking in Google’s search results relies heavily on computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page’s relevance to a given query."

A slight adjustment in wording, but an important comment on the supremacy of the algorithm that Google had touted for years. Google had finally acknowledged that its search results were no longer solely and automatically determined by the company's vaunted algorithms. Google claims it was arbitrary, unrelated to any sudden philosophical shifts within the company. But it seems far too specific an adjustment to chalk up to a random brand-management edit. And indeed, sources say the language was changed to account for the continual calibration of the algorithm, which these days is done with a bit of human help.

In this interview, Google engineering director Scott Huffman discusses the resources and techniques the company uses to optimize its system for users world-wide.

From Digital Daily
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