Internet search engines such as Powerset employ a type of artificial intelligence called natural language processing in order to process search terms entered by users. Without natural language processing, the search algorithm would simply look for every occurrence of each word in the search query. Natural language processing, however, allows the search algorithm to search for pertinent information while ignoring the portion of the query that is unnecessary to the search.

Internet Searches Without Natural Language Processing

An Internet search without natural language processing searches for each word in the search string. The results are sorted according to the highest concentration of all of the search terms, including extraneous words such as prepositions. In order to use a search engine that does not use natural language processing, a user must limit the search to pertinent terms only, rather than phrasing the query as a literal question.

AI Helps Translate Questions and Find Answers

Using natural language processing allows a search algorithm to filter out unnecessary terms. In the search query, “What is natural language processing?”, an algorithm that uses AI will return results containing the words, “natural language processing”. Each search phrase is evaluated individually, and words are applied to the search or discarded according to guidelines set up in the AI program.

Powerset Uses Wikipedia to Provide AI Search Results

Powerset, a search engine start-up based in the Silicon Valley, was acquired by Microsoft in 2008. This search engine currently only offers searches of Wikipedia, an online information source that is updated by Internet users, and Freebase, another user-populated database. Over time, Powerset intends to provide the same type of highly optimized search based on information sources across the Internet.

A Powerset search, according to the Powerset Web Site , pulls information from multiple articles to provide the necessary answers to a search user. Queries with a Powerset search can be formatted with a simple search term, or as a question, depending on the preference of the user.

Search Engines Use Natural Language Processing While Powerset’s search engine offers a more robust form of natural language processing, most other search engines provide some degree of this feature. Google, Inc. employs natural language processing as part of the search algorithm used in Google searches, as does Ask.com, a search engine that was formerly known as Ask Jeeves. As AI technology improves, search engines will be capable of providing more customized search information to users, which will enhance the experience of anyone conducting searches on the Internet.