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Friday, June 24, 2005

Louis Monier : Search Engines As Generic Pattern Recognition Engines

Louis Monier,the well known technical wizard behind Altavista, now working for eBay is headed to Google. In a discussion with John Battelle, he shares some interesting insights about his future plans and more importantly about possible advances in the search engine industry. Excerpts with edits & comments:

Louis on why he is leaving eBay: the new search engine inside eBay is working well ; it's perfectly adapted to eBay's needs and is in the same league as Google in query volume. The main reason to leave is that eBay does not absorb innovation at the pace he enjoys , and its focus is narrower than Google. So rather than chewing on variations of e-commerce for the next few years, he is very tempted to play with radically new stuff: satellites images, machine translation, ways to extract knowledge from giant bodies of data ... eBay replaced the search back-end a couple of years ago with home-grown code, and it has been performing very well. The only user-visible difference is that any change (price, new item, ended item,...) is reflected in the search and browse pages in real time. So it was not a traumatic user-interface change, just a better back-end. The most interesting problem in search is to think of it as a dialog rather than a one-shot thing: enter query, get ten links back. The search engine needs to do its part to keep the dialog going and that he is fascinated by the many ways we can extract real knowledge from billions of tidbits, whether they'd be Web pages, queries, links, reviews, social networks... We have a few tools today, mostly statistics to isolate repeating data from the noise, but we will eventually go much further. What we need are generic pattern recognition engines. Higly creative and restlessness with status quo and clarity of thought about where the future is headed - amazing - no doubt prize catch for Google. Someone wrote recently that eBay may find it difficut to attract and retain talent moving forward..Well we are indeed beginning to see these..

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"