Feeds

Google reveals its Hummingbird: Fly, my little algorithm - FLY!

Update brings Googleplex one step closer to sentience

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

As more people have come online, the way people search has changed - so Google has overhauled its algorithms to better deal with the vague, rambling questions we bombard it with.

The new "Hummingbird" update was announced by Google at a shock-and-awe PR event held in the Menlo Park garage where the ad-slinger spent its early years.

Though Google declined to discuss the technology underlying the algorithm – a depressing break with the past – it did tell us that Hummingbird "makes results more useful and relevant, especially when you ask Google long, complex questions."

According to Google, as time has gone on we have used more sophisticated, conversational queries, and moved away from short directed terms like, say: site:theregister 2009 + IPv6.

Today, people – knowledgable Reg readers aside, that is – are much more likely to write: IPv6 article on the register with pictures from 2009, or something equally hard to parse.

In many ways, the conversational tone we take with Google nowadays is the same type of shift that happened when we moved from lower-level programming languages up to more abstract, expressive ones. If old Google was like C, Hummingbird is like Python or Ruby.

"Hummingbird pays more attention to each word in the query, ensuring the whole query is taken into account – so if a resulting page is a bit less strong in general, but it's the most relevant to your search terms, that's the result you'll get," a Google spokesperson told El Reg. "And if there are plenty of relevant matches to your search terms, Hummingbird does a better job picking the strongest page for you."

The algorithm was deployed several weeks ago and is involved in 90 per cent of Google's search queries, we understand.

Alongside the Hummingbird updates, Google has also added features to its "Knowledge Graph" technology, which allows the search engine to deliver results directly on the query page.

You can now search "impressionistic artists" and the company will present you with a list of artists, and the option of switching genres. Another thing you can try out is "butter vs olive oil" to get a comparison of cholersterol, calories, and such.

But try searching "classical musicians" or "butter vs vegetable oil" and you're out of luck – for now, this is a very limited service, though Google does want to grow it over time.

The company has also added more voice features to its apps for mobile devices, so you can instruct Google to add a reminder to your calendar for when you walk into the office without touching the device.

"Ideally, you wouldn't need to pull out your phone or tap buttons to use Google. We're not quite there yet, but you can already do a lot with just your voice," the company's senior veep of search, Amit Singhal, wrote in a blog post announcing the move.

We welcome our voice-activated robo-librarian overlords. ®

Reducing security risks from open source software

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.