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January 27, 2006

Questions for Andrei Broder re emerging search technology?

You may have heard some buzz about Andrei Broder joining Yahoo! as a research fellow and vice president of emerging search technology. Longtime search industry folks will know that Broder is a noted expert on design, analysis, and implementation of algorithms for Web-scale information retrieval and applications. We’re pleased to host him for an exclusive Q&A for Yahoo! Search blog readers.

Broder is co-winner of the Best Paper award at WWW6 for his work on duplicate elimination of web pages and at WWW9 for his work on mapping the web. And here’s a big list of Andrei's papers. Andre also serves as chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Mathematical Foundations of Computing and has recently been named a 2006 IEEE Fellow “for contributions to the theory and application of randomized algorithms”.

So, got a question for Andrei? We’ll be conducting the interview next week and posting it shortly thereafter.

Tara Kirchner
Yahoo! Search

PS. If you are annoyed by all these sites that ask you to copy some letters or numbers to prove you are not a bot, you can blame Andrei as well: he co-invented this challenge, back in 1998.


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January 24, 2006

Are you kidding?!

There's been a lot of conjecture and confusion today about Yahoo!'s commitment to being the world's best search engine-talk which anyone who's been following the evolution of Yahoo! Search would have realized is… just plain wrong.

While some people immediately realized this, we thought it made sense to briefly recap how focused we are in search and our passion to be the world's leading search engine:

(1) Less than two years ago we launched our own search engine. At the time nobody thought it could be done, but here we are. Whether it's a single blogger switching to Yahoo!, or the results of a "Coke vs. Pepsi" challenge, it's become clear that despite the "Google myth", we've caught up and every day are improving search relevance and making search easier to use and more accessible for users.

(2) The people working on Yahoo! Search are some of the smartest you'll find anywhere and are dedicated to the single purpose of building the world's best search engine. Many of us have worked in search for more than a decade and invented much of the technology modern search engines are based on. In addition to the thousands of engineers and hundreds of PhDs, the list includes pioneers and experts like Andrei Broder, Prabhakar Ragavan, Jan Pedersen and Ricardo Baeza-Yates. They're recognized technology leaders who live and breathe search. They all chose Yahoo! as the place where they can make their vision come true.

(3) We're continuously innovating and finding new ways to help people connect to information and knowledge - part of our vision to help them find, use, share and expand all human knowledge. We're working on literally hundreds of projects to improve search, and some of the most visible examples include My Web, Yahoo! Answers, and Open Shortcuts. We have also brought in some of the most innovative companies like Flickr and del.icio.us, to help bring the promise of social search and tagging to the rest of the world and advancing search beyond what it is today.

(4) Finally, we've turned Yahoo! Search into an open platform for innovative third-party developers -- we've built the most comprehensive set of Web Services, allowing a new generation of applications to be built such as Rollyo and Eurekster and many others.

This commitment to being the best should be crystal clear from our investments in talented people, research, innovation and new products. Believe it or not, we are still in the early days of search. As all of us at Yahoo! agree, we're in it for the long haul, and we're in it to win.

Qi Lu, VP Engineering, Search
Eckart Walther, VP Products, Search


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January 23, 2006

Yahoo! Hacks. The Good Kind...

yahoo hacks Hey All, Yahoo! turned the keys of their blog over to me for one post so I can tell you about a book I put together called Yahoo! Hacks. If you're not already familiar with O'Reilly's Hacks Series, don't worry, the book isn't about breaking into Yahoo! without permission. Instead, the Hacks Series is trying to reclaim the word "hacks" for the good guys, using the word in its original geeky sense of describing a cool technical shortcut, useful bit of code, or a clever use of an existing application. Each hack is a tip, trick, or project you can put together that uses Yahoo! in a unique way—ranging from using simple shortcuts to fine-tune searching to adding new features with Yahoo! Web Services.

Here's a quick example. I like to change my desktop background. Most of the time I spot something on the Web at random, right-click the image, and choose "Set as Desktop Background..." from the menu. This method isn't perfect though because most of the time the image isn't quite the right size for my desktop. So I have to go into my desktop settings and choose "stretch" or "center" to see which is the best way to display the background picture. Stretching the image usually means the picture will look blurry or distorted, so ideally I'd like to find images that are the right size for my desktop.

Yahoo! Image Search is great for spotting new desktop backgrounds. Yahoo! has already done the work of gathering thousands of images from across the Web into one interface for browsing. And if you know a few of what Yahoo! calls Search Meta Words, you can specify the size of images you'd like to see. Try a search for cityscape, and you'll find thousands of images of all shapes and sizes. Say your screen resolution is set to 1024 x 768, you can specify that with the width: and height: Search Meta Words. So the query cityscape width:1024 height:768 will give you only images that are a perfect match for your desktop background.

In Yahoo! Hacks, Hack #83 shows how you can take this idea a step further with a bit of code to set a new desktop background automatically when you start your computer. So you specify a word like cityscape, and Yahoo! Web Services will deliver a random image to your desktop. It won't always give you a background image that you'd set for yourself, but it's a fun example of using Yahoo! to bring some randomness into your life.

Another of my favorite Search Meta Words is aspect: for Yahoo! Video Search. The term aspect ratio refers to a video's display width divided by its height. As HDTV is taking off, more and more video is available in a widescreen format which is represented by the 16:9 aspect ratio. Standard television video has a 4:3 aspect ratio—almost a square, and computer monitors 5:4. With a little math, you can tell Yahoo! Video Search which aspect ratio you're looking for. You take the video width multiplied by 100, then divide by the height and round down. That means widescreen movies and HDTV have the computed aspect value of 177.

Here's a quick way to see how it works. Try a search for Matrix at Yahoo! Video Search and you'll get over 20,000 results. Now specify the aspect ratio by searching for Matrix aspect:177 and you'll get under 100 results, but each result is in widescreen format. (Usually a bit higher quality than 4:3 videos.) There are quite a few Search Meta Keywords for Yahoo! Video Search, and Hack #11 in the book explains them all.

Many thanks to the fine folks here at Yahoo! Search Blog for letting me tell you a bit about Yahoo! Hacks, I hope you'll check it out. And happy Yahoo! hacking (the good kind).

Paul Bausch
Author


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January 12, 2006

Partnering with Yahoo!

Hi, I'm Joel Toledano. I was invited to speak on a panel at Caltech last month called Opportunities for Innovators: Venturing in Online Search, Advertising & Sales last month and met many great entrepreneurs at the event.

As these things sometimes go, the topic was perfectly timed in light of several recent acquisitions in the search arena (Brainboost acquired by Answers.com and Del.icio.us acquired by Yahoo!, to name just two in the last few weeks) and the heightened media coverage of search acquisitions in general.

I gave a presentation on how to properly position your company for a commercial partnership with a large company such as Yahoo!, which is often a great way for a small company to build their business. Several of you asked for a copy of the presentation, so here it is -- hopefully you enjoyed the panel discussion and the presentation's advice is helpful. Look forward to seeing you at the next panel!

Joel's Caltech/MIT Preso

Joel Toledano
Director, Business Development
Yahoo! Search


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January 04, 2006

SDForum Search SIG on Tagging and Social Bookmarking at Yahoo! Next Week

Just a quick heads-up. If you're in the Bay Area (or are exceptionally skilled at finding cheap flights here), drop by Yahoo! next Tuesday evening for another SDForum Search SIG. The topics this time are Tagging and Social Bookmarking.

As noted on the SDForum Search SIG blog, featured guests are:

  • Joshua Schachter from Del.icio.us (and now Yahoo)
  • Manish Chandra from Kaboodle
  • Michael Tanne from Wink
  • Kevin Rose from Digg

And Forrester's Charlene Li will be the panel moderator. Complete details are on the SDForum Search SIG blog.

See ya next Tuesday!

Jeremy Zawodny
Yahoo! Search


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