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Could IBM Shake up the Search Engine World? 193

overshoot writes "IBM has just tossed a bucket of chum into the whole search showdown, which Microsoft thought was between them and Google. Apparently, IBM Research has developed a 'key facts' search technology (as distinct from 'key words') over the last several years. Now they're going public with it -- by putting it on SourceForge under an OSS license!" (According to the article, it's expected to show up on SourceForge by the end of this year, not immediately.)
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Could IBM Shake up the Search Engine World?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The search bar on your site barely works as it is.
    • I agree, I try their search tool at every so often and I still to this day have to use Google to find anything on their web site. My money is on them donating it to FOSS so someone can fix it for them.
  • It will be funny if denies them. But then, I guess they got a deal with them already.
  • ok but (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 08, 2005 @07:46PM (#13274709)
    I'll stick to letting Google know every single detail of my life thanks.
  • Yay. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Sinryc ( 834433 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @07:46PM (#13274713)
    Yay, now EVERYONE can make their own Search Engine and say how they are SO much better then everyone elses!
    • I plan to make mine far inferior, but drive people to use my search engine with spyware.
      • Bill? Is that you?

        Seriously though, isnt that how msn search gets the skewed usage statistics that it does (ok, I digress, IE is *technically* not spyware..... yet).
    • Re:Yay. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by b0r1s ( 170449 )
      Size of index, speed (requiring hardware, content nodes, etc), tuning (algorithms may be alike, but small tuning makes all the difference with the SEO spam going around), and anti-abuse (worms searching for phpBB urls are bad, m-kay) will keep this from being a 'free perfect search for everyone' tool.
    • Re:Yay. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:36PM (#13275013) Homepage
      Yay, now EVERYONE can make their own Search Engine and say how they are SO much better then everyone elses!

      Well, let's just hope it becomes one big, honkin' FOSS project.

      Search technology is huge. Having it available which apparently can index conceptual links as opposed to literal links is astounding.

      I say smart move on IBM's side. Get all the publicity of opening up really cool tech to the open-source community, then proceed to make a gazillion dollars in professional services gigs, and get the added benefit of everyone making your tech better because it's useful.

      Provided this isn't steamingly fresh technology (unlikely from IBM realy) they should see some interest in this.

      I for one, can imagine a nice bunch of associative content, and am wondering how much resources this might require to run on a machine and I'm going to go RTFA. =)
      • If this is licensed under an Open Source license wouldn't Google, Yahoo, etc take whatever is worthwhile and incorporate it into their existing search algorithms?
        • Not if IBM patents it.

          That way either
          1. Google, MS, Yahoo etc can use the open source implementation (which is a licence to use the code including the patented stuff), possibly requiring opening their own codebase or
          2. they licence the patents from IBM

          Remember IBM still has the largest patent portfolio.
    • I for one, am not excited about the fact that any Joe Shmoe could send out robots to index my pages. If there are thousands of robots indexing my pages every day I am going to have a pretty large bandwidth bill to pay.

      Let's hope it is complicated enough that not everyone will be able to set up their own search engine easily.

      I would be excited though if it was a single large open source entity that works on a competing search engine. That would be neat!
      • There are already thousands of bots and spiders busy on the web. Some really ridiculous ones, so this one more will not really matter.
    • Yay! Now web sites can be hit by 100x the irrelevant search engine traffic instead of a few like Yahoo and Google that actually matter. This is a DoD in the making. I'm sure there will be more than a few that decide to ignore robots.txt.
  • Long hard road. (Score:1, Redundant)

    by UlfGabe ( 846629 )
    I applaude IBM for taking this stance and entering the hotly contested search engine world.

    More competition is better. I would enjoy more innovation. They do have a hard long road to follow however, and they may find it difficult.

    Check out my journal if interested in a difficult problem.
    • The search algorithm is just a minor part of running a search engine. The key part, which Google has down pat, is getting the results from a metric buttload of web pages, doing it fast, and doing it for a very large number of people at once.
    • Yeah but I doubt IBM made like a web search engine like Google, I bet you its just a single site search engine, purely for one site only. But then again you neevr know.
      • after reading the blurb there was not even a mention of web based. OSS community is itching for an effect Desktop search algorythm maybe this is it. Software to index anything
  • by Urgo ( 28400 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @07:52PM (#13274765) Homepage - - [08/Aug/2005:15:48:34 -0400] "GET /robots.txt HTTP/1.0" 200 69 "-" " [fc7]" - - [08/Aug/2005:15:48:38 -0400] "GET / HTTP/1.0" 200 41317 "-" " [fc7]"

    I've been getting once a day connections on my server from ibm for quite some time now (a year or so). Doesn't surprise me in the least. :)
  • by sled ( 10079 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @07:54PM (#13274776) Homepage
    From TFA: "While simple but powerful keyword searches have revolutionized how Internet users locate and retrieve information, IBM is looking to transform how office workers sift through the piles of data stored inside organizations."

    The posting implies that IBM is entering into competition with MS and Google. I saw no indication that IBM intends to launch a web search engine.
    • by b0r1s ( 170449 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:11PM (#13274878) Homepage
      The Google appliance is marketed (if not in the online docs, at least in person) as an enterprise tool for organizations to search their internal data. While this ceratinly isn't their primary revenue stream, this tool would in fact compete with that aspect of Google's business.
    • The posting implies that IBM is entering into competition with MS and Google.

      No, the posting (at least tried to) implies that IBM is changing the rules on the search game.

      Chum are the bait that you throw to sharks to get them fighting each other.

    • One of Google's products is an intranet appliance for "sifting through the piles of data stored inside organisations". This would put IBM in direct competition with them in that market. Public search isn't the only thing that Google does, you know.

  • Now I think Microsoft has a big problem... Now they really should start becoming innovative... And google finally could have a nice open source competitor. This will increase innovation in giant leaps and ofcourse would make it hard for microsoft ever to beat Google.. This will be a worthy test of the power of open source!!!
    • > Now I think Microsoft has a big problem...

      How's that?
      This software has 0% market share (and that was with all the IBM's sales, support and development efforts).
      They couldn't make a dent in the market (why do you think they're releasing it to open source if it's so good)?

      >And google finally could have a nice open source competitor.

      I don't think so. Those search engine guys are mean mother fuckers - thousands and thousands of full-time engineers working on solely one task - imporoving their search pro
      • I don't think so. Those search engine guys are mean mother fuckers - thousands and thousands of full-time engineers working on solely one task - imporoving their search products/services.


        Google's engineers will be on collective vacation, taking it easy while allowing this open source search engine to get its shit together.

        Make up your mind. Are they on vacation or are they working solely on improving their search engine? (leaving out any comments about your use of such colorful language)

  • IBM is pretty crazy when it comes to advanced research in any of its fields.

    I have heard of stories from researchers there that IBM has its own terminology for alot of technical EE/CS stuff, as they discovered it way before the world did but were so secretive they didn't publish any of it.

    I'm not surprised if IBM has enough tech in search to seriously knock down Google!

    This OSS thing comes as a surprise, as it contradicts their secretiveness about their research.
  • by Burz ( 138833 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @07:58PM (#13274800) Homepage Journal
    a bucket of chum into the whole search showdown,

    This is an awful mixed metaphor. How does Slashdot expect its readers to navigate the treacherous IT seas with such poorly-seasoned and half-baked information?
  • what about yahoo!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dezmund ( 903218 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @07:59PM (#13274807)
    MSN thought it was between them and google? 722/tc_cmp/166401634 []
    sorry bill, but if anything its between yahoo (22% share of all searches) and google (47%).

    Not to mention most of those MSN searches (12%) are from IE users who don't know how to change their browser's start page.
    • A friend of mine for example.
      I expect this post to be modded informative of course...
    • by Punboy ( 737239 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @09:40PM (#13275336) Homepage
      Plus, those who think that the address bar are for system commands (and are thus afraid of it) and the search-bar is where you type in the website address o.O

      My grandparents are weird.
    • Uh where do you get your numbers and do you work for Yahoo/Google/MSN/etc.?

      Last I heard it's pretty darned impossible to tell just how many searches are processed by which search engine unless you are actually within those companies and have access to that company's numbers.

      It's possible to get averages from websites by referal beacons, but some engines list sites higher than others, some are enhanced by paid ads, etc. etc. IT's just not scientific at all to post percentages of what you don't know.

    • I know someone who KNOWS how to change her browser start page (although at our school, she couldn't unless she used another browser), yet STILL uses MSN. She told me that she doesn't use Google because she doesn't trust it. Fair enough, but MSN instead? WTF is THAT?

      And it's not MS love, either - I even had her using Opera for a while, and it wasn't even b/c of security. Of course, this was all at school, and they took down the public share, so Opera was harder to use...
  • Get it now (Score:4, Informative)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Monday August 08, 2005 @07:59PM (#13274810) Homepage Journal
    Unstructured Information Management Architecture SDK []. The UIMA SDK (Software Development Kit), is an all-JavaTM implementation of the UIMA framework, and it supports the implementation, description, composition, and deployment of UIMA components and applications. It also supports the developer with an Eclipse -based development environment that includes a set of tools and utilities for using UIMA.

    Go you crazy Java dudes, go.
  • by kaan ( 88626 )
    I, for one, welcome our new chum-tossing search-engine overlords...
  • KDeskserach?



 the next KDE :D
  • is a P2P layer on top of this complete with efficient, distributed and secure search. A good P2P search engine is still missing and (IMHO) one of the more important things needed, last but not least for political reasons (privacy, censorship etc.).

    That would make it possible to give back control of every aspect of the 'web experience' to the user.

    Ok, I'm dreaming :-)
  • The important information is simply the url []
  • ...will sure light up. There will be so many people trying out-do the not-doing-evil of all of the other search engines that they'll have to resort to being evil just to prove how not evil they are.
  • I'm not sure if this is feasable as it would be hard to ward off spammers, but is there any chance that we could see an OSS distributed search system that works like SETI@HOME?

    Maybe I'll patent it, before Epicrealm does...
  • by pokka ( 557695 )
    which Microsoft thought was between them and Google.

    Where did this come from? It certainly wasn't part of the article. With BAIDU's IPO [], and Yahoo expanding its index count [] to 20B pages (almost 4x Google's count), I seriously doubt that anyone in the search engine business thinks they can predict who will dominate in a few years - it's possible that the next "pagerank killer" is written by some CS grad students or by a search engine company that hardly anyone has heard of (yet).
    • Pagerank is beautiful for it's simplicity, but it is a specific implementation of the search layer. What IBM is touching on here is not a search layer, it's parseing layer on top of the search engine. That parseing layer will be where the search companies fight it out over the next few years. The concept is called Natural Language Search and I'm sure all the big boys have been working on it for some time now. IBM hasn't hit it here, but they defintely just took a step ahead of google et al.

      Ask Jeeves tr
  • ...which Microsoft thought was between them and Google.

    I think it still is pretty much between them (and perhaps Yahoo) as IBM is obviously not actively persuing this market. From first glance it appears that they wanted to give search engines a swing, and in the end decided not to go after it. However being IBM, instead of burying their research they released it into the public so others can benefit from it.

    While this is good, but Microsoft and Google really have nothing to worry about. It's not like Bi
    • However being IBM, instead of burying their research they released it into the public so others can benefit from it.

      IBM may yet live to benefit from this project. A new google-like startup will need their own software to start their business, so they won't use it. IBM own the copyright, and have their own capital so they could start their own search engine with the OSS software at a later date.

  • Big Blue Marbles (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:20PM (#13274927) Homepage Journal
    So Google and MS will incorporate the "key facts" code into their products. That won't exactly shake up the search engine world. It will (possibly) improve it for everyone, and maybe (if "key facts" works better than their proprietary "key words" functions) even let another engine compete in their category. The latter might shake something up. But, like every other mass human activity, this competition is fought over brand names. Google clevery established a terrific brand, through careful simplicity and consistency in graphic and info design. This IBM release would merely grant more substance to the existing brands, and some substance to any newly emerging one. Which new brand would have to establish its own competitive value, largely through style.

    IBM's move does have the power to shake up the open/proprietary software jihad underway. If Microsoft used their open code, it would be hard for MS to claim that open source is inherently bad, or proprietary code is inherently superior. Google would demonstrate the same argument, but no one complains about Google's code remaining proprietary, because it mainly runs on their servers, which few people yet demand should be opened to outsiders. These are the kind of subtle strategic moves that let IBM continue to pull the strings of the entire industry. Success that generates more business and flexibility for IBM, in the mixed open/proprietary space it's carving for itself, will also demonstrate another powerful idea. American corporations can achieve market influence through strategic deployment of basic R&D. Not just through proprietary products, but also through manipulation of competitors who adopt open tech they create.

    All in all, this looks like a smart move by IBM. Let's hope 1> this rumor is true; 2> the tech is really good; and 3> we're not already too far gone down the entrenched lines between our corporate jihadis to get the benefit of the mutual cooperation that this tech could enable, to great mutual benefit.
  • to know I'm looking for amateur or anal when I search for 'a'?
  • by AutopsyReport ( 856852 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:30PM (#13274977)
    From the article... "I don't see any of the major players moving into this area," Arthur Ciccolo, head of search technology at IBM Research, said of how major consumer Internet search companies such as Google, Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft have focused on the public Internet instead of private record data retrieval.

    And from the Slashdot summary... IBM has just tossed a bucket of chum into the whole search showdown, which Microsoft thought was between them and Google.

    No, IBM's technology has little to do with Google, Yahoo or Microsoft's search technology. This isn't a competition until either three introduce similar technology. Reading the article's third paragraph would clarify this, and would make the summary a little more accurate, too.

  • About 8 years ago, when I was writing software for OS/2, I ran across an interesting extension that IBM had for its DB2 software, called (I think) the Ultimedia extensions. These would allow you to search photos for a type of object that it understood. So you could tell it to search for all pictures that had a red ball and a tree...and it would return a list of all photos with those two objects. It was really interesting, but I have not heard anything about it since then...

  • by r_jensen11 ( 598210 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:32PM (#13274990)

    It's available now []. As the article says:

    UIMA technology is expected to be made available through open-source software site SourceForge by the end of 2005. The UIMA framework can currently be downloaded free of charge from IBM AlphaWorks at [].

    So, I ask, why wait for it to appear on SF if we can get it now?

  • IBM is pretty crazy when it comes to advanced research in any of its fields. I have heard of stories from researchers there that IBM has its own terminology for alot of technical EE/CS stuff, as they discovered it way before the world did but were so secretive they didn't publish any of it. I'm not surprised if IBM has enough tech in search to seriously knock down Google! This OSS thing comes as a surprise, as it contradicts their secretiveness about their research.
    • Interesting....

      I thought IBM tried to patent everything and anything plausibly patentable that came across the desk of someone on their research team.

      If they patent everything, they can be pretty sure that they'll be able to extract some pretty hefty licensing fees from the industry at large. However, if they keep too many things under wraps, while they might gain a competitive advantage for a product that they're bringing to market relatively soon, they risk loosing the ability to file for all of the r
  • The key to search engines, whatever their underlying ranking algorithm, is trawling through the couple of billion pages on the net to generate the data to be be searched.

    Obviously most of us simply don't have the bandwidth or the computing power & storage to do that.

    So are IBM treating the search engine source release as a hypothetical interest for people who can't actually make practical use of it, or are they going to give access to their own trawled data?

    If the latter, then this is very significant.
    • Scrub that, I assumed from the (arguably misleading) "Google vs Microsoft" in the intro that it was search in the web context. RTFA showed it's about corporate data searching, so my "net trawling" comment makes no sense. Sorry. Wishful thinking I guess. Gotta learn not to RTFIntros.
  • There have been many times when I have known what something is or does (since I've seen it in action), but not what it is called. If I could search for information on the basis of known facts, rather than just guessing at search terms, I think I would have much quicker success at such searches. I can usually find whatever I needed to know, but it can take weeks if I don't know the words to search for. Sometimes it takes joining mailing lists or asking people personally. Yeah it works, and the current system
  • No wonder my IBM stock is tanked.
  • If this radical new technology is anything like the new, improved, "Deep Blue" search backing IBMs support pages, its a real piece of junk, almost like Altavista circa 1998.
  • You almost make it sound as if this is the first OSS search engine out there. Apache Jakarta's Nutch [], a subproject of Lucene, has been around for over two years. I haven't done tons of research on the subject, so I'm betting Nutch isn't the only one.
  • ....IBM tossed a bucket of chum into the whole search showdown...

    To which Paul Allen responded from the deck of his yacht [], "We're going to need a bigger boat!"

  • Fellow /. viewers,

    Why not do the following: Several of us have access to sufficient infrastructure (own/lease with diskspace to spare, plus a bandwidth surplus).
    Why do we not combine that in a distributed search environment with mirrored nodes with this technique of IBM. The addition of the distributed technology to spider and index the web will be a significant challenge, but the concept is I think pretty appealing. I for one will be willing to "donate" the necessary domain and starting facilities.

  • After searching for a whooping 5 minutes and even googling (gasp!) I couldn't find any decent article about what this actually is, just lots of info on how to use it. It looks like there is a new query language so it might be interesting for query expansion. But how does it extract these key facts from the documents? Does it do real natural language analysis? Just guess by looking at the document terms like every other search technology? Or is it just a framework that doesn't really do anything by itself? I
  • This is interesting, but somwhat deceptive. IBM has created a framework, not an actual search engine. The framework is effectively a data layout combined with a processing pipeline and query engine that gives emphasis to semantic processing of information, rather than strictly textual. See IBM's FAQ regarding Annotations [].

    You still have to buy the software that will plug into the framework in order to actually process the information, though some open source projects are certain to come along.

    This is

  • I like how the author points out Google as being the "worlds largest computer company" in the same article as IBM. Apparently having the company name International Business Machines, having $100B in assets and revenues of $100B a year will not trump a hyped up dot-com company with $3B in assets and revenues of $3B a year. Surely Google is the world leader in search but when did that become the only function of computers?

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel