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Google Knowledge Graph attempts 'next generation of search'

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Google today took the wraps off a new search functionality called the Knowledge Graph, which produces search results based in part on the context of the search, rather than the search terms themselves. Knowledge Graph, Google engineer Amit Singhal wrote in a blog post, is an "intelligent model" that "understands real-world entities and their relationships to one another: things, not strings." 

"The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about – landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more – and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query," Singh continued. "This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web." 

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Singh used as an example the words "Taj Mahal." In the past, he noted, search was about matching key words – in this case, two of them – to a cascading row of relevant search results. Of course, this approach occasionally falls short: A user might be looking for information on the blues musician, and end up with data on the Atlantic City casino or the palace in Agra, India.

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The Knowledge Graph, on the other hand, will take into consideration recent searches, your location, and your preferences, and tailor your results accordingly. Rollout for the feature began yesterday for mobile, tablet, and desktop users in the US; Google plans eventually to expand the Knowledge Graph to other countries, but no specific timeline has been set.

This is the second major search initiative announced by Google in the past few months. Horizons readers will remember that back in January, Google introduced Search Plus Your World, a social search functionality that piggybacks on the Google+ network. Where the Knowledge Graph enhances searches by putting terms in context, Search Plus Your World enhances searches by incorporating input and updates from friends.

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