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Google Goes Extract Hunting With Orion

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A student from Israel developed an advanced search algorithm, and his work landed him a job with Google and a windfall for the University of New South Wales.

Google Goes Extract Hunting With Orion
Google’s Hunt Led By Orion

Google is keeping its new employee, Ori Allon, under wraps at the Googleplex. Though several outlets have reported on his development of the Orion search tool and its rights acquisition by Google, nothing beyond Allon’s employment in Mountain View has been disclosed.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported how Google and Yahoo both expressed interest in Allon’s work. Yahoo apparently came in second to Google, a familiar place for the Sunnyvale-based portal company.

Orion reportedly provides text extracts for each link found with a search, showing the keywords from the query and where they are in each extract. The idea is to keep people from having to go back and forth between the search result page and each link while looking for a page that best meets the searcher’s needs.

“This will give the information directly and immediately. It will be a great time-saver for users,” Allon’s PhD supervisor Eric Martin at New South Wales said in the article.

The next question that should be asked here is why would Google pay for a tool they already seem to possess. In Google Book Search, such extracts or snippets of text containing keywords appear when using the service to find books containing those terms.

Search Engine Watch’s Danny Sullivan commented on just how those extracts could impact Google if put into use:

It sounds like Allon mainly developed an algorithm useful in pulling out better summaries of web pages. In other words, if you did a search, you’d be likely to get back extracted sections of pages most relevant to your query. From the release:

The results to the query are displayed immediately in the form of expanded text extracts, giving you the relevant information without having to go the website.

Such extraction could work well with moves by Google to expand direct answers that it offers, something all search engines are doing. Of course, the more Google and other search engines extract heavily from web pages without sending them actual traffic, the more likely they’ll come under legal pressures of stepping over the fair use line.


Perhaps the algorithm works faster or more effectively than what Google has developed over its existence. Or as blogger Garett Rogers posted, it could provide a list of suggested topics related to the query being made.

But that’s been done as well, particularly with the Clusty metasearch engine. And by Dogpile. And even on Ask.com.

The Herald’s report said the deal with Google could yield millions for the University. Once Google implements the project, expected by Martin to be completed inside of 18 months, users can see just what Google purchased and how well it works.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Google Goes Extract Hunting With Orion
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