Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Magy! search result clustering and the next search UI

Search UI is still the same since the beginning of search era. True: the 10 blue links model is a solid one, but is there any other innovation ?

Many people are thinking that blending is the next frontier, with champions such as Ask.com and Google. They mix and shake together results coming from different search domains, such as news, images, blogs, questions, products, and the like. The result is a sense of more variety, more freshness and, after all, a better user experience.

Personally, I do think that we need to try different UIs in response to different search queries. Back in 2000, I was a big fan of Northern Light folder's organization, which later on evolved into the Vivisimo's web hierarchies adopted by Clusty, and in a series or Academic reseach proposals about web snippet clustering.

I think that next UIs will be obtained (a) by leveraging cool graphical proposals and (b) by solving basic algorithm problems which apparently have no relationship with UI.

For instance, here it is one problem for our proud Magy! engineers.
  • Given an array of strings, find the longest common substring in optimal time
It turns out that this the solution of this problem can be very useful for web snippet clustering. Yet another example where theoretical researches may have interesting pratical applications.

PS: you may be interested to have a look to suffix array and suffix tree data structures for solving this particular problem.

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