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New Search Patents: June 12, 2006 - More Yahoo Concepts and Google Predictive Searches

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Microsoft describes the use of block level analysis to improve mobile browsing, writes of allowing searchers to customize search results, presents a query refinement system which provides concepts for users to choose from, and offers a look at a video browser for video search. IBM has filed a patent which could let a browser be used to exclude selected pages, and pages linked to or from those pages, from search engine results. In another filing, they detail how a focused random crawl could be used to gather statistical information on chosen topics.

Google further builds upon the use of predictive queries, in this instance to speed up searches, especially for people using wireless access to the web. Yahoo adds two more patent applications which use concept units derived from searchers' queries to index the web. In this case, the focus is upon how taxonomies could be created from those concepts.

Microsoft

Microsoft's Vision based Page Segmentation Algorithm (VIPS) was intended "to extract the semantic structure of a web page based on its visual presentation." We saw an example of how this could be used in a paper by Microsoft titled Block-level Link Analysis, where the location of a link on a page might tell us more about that link. The following patent uses VIPs to decide what to show searchers, when displaying a thumbnail of a result from a search.

Block importance analysis to enhance browsing of web page search results
Invented by Xing Xie, Wei-Ying Ma, and Gengxin Miao
Assigned to Micrsoft Corporation
US Patent Application 20060123042
Publised June 8, 2006
Filed December 7, 2004

Abstract

Systems and methods for block importance analysis to enhance browsing of web page search results are described. In one aspect, a server analyzes content of a document as a function of multiple block importance criteria. The server assigns a respective block importance level of multiple importance levels to respective block(s) of the analyzed content. The server generates one or more customized documents from block(s) of the content as a function of respective assigned block importance level(s) of the block(s). Each of the one or more customized documents is generated in a particular format of multiple formats to enhance user interaction with the document on a small form factor computing device.


How much control should a searcher have over what type of information appears on a search results page from a search engine? There really isn't much choice provided by the major search engines as to what searchers see. This patent application explores some options.

System and method for customization of search results
Invented by Ramez Naam
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent Application 20060122968
Published June 8, 2006
Filed December 2, 2004

Abstract

A system and method are provided for customizing search result descriptions for results returned by a search engine. The search result descriptions may be obtained through a search over a computer network. The system includes a search result description request component for enabling selection of particular data for retrieval by the search engine. The system additionally includes a search result description generator for retrieving and returning the requested data. The system also includes a search result description renderer for displaying search result descriptions in a selected manner.

System and method for query refinement to enable improved searching based on identifying and utilizing popular concepts related to users' queries
Invented by Raman Chandrasekar, James C. Finger, II, and Eric B. Watson
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent Application 20060122991
Published June 8, 2006
Filed January 26, 2006

Abstract

Refining a user query is disclosed. In one method, a query is received from a user, and then mapped to one or more search concepts. A list of search concepts associated with the query is then displayed. Alternatively or additionally, the search concepts associated with the query are used to provide a set of improved search results. In another method, a number of queries from a number of users are analyzed to identify two or more search concepts, and a popularity value is assigned to them based on the queries. Thus, the relative popularity of the respective search concepts can be determined. Alternatively or additionally, a preferred search query for the search concepts can be determined. The popularity and preferred queries can be used to allow automatic or user-initiated refinement.


System and method for video browsing using a cluster index
Invented by Nebojsa Jojic and Sumit Basu
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent Application 20060120624
Published June 8, 2006
Filed December 8, 2004

Abstract

A "Video Browser" provides an intuitive user interface for indexing, and interactive visual browsing, of particular elements within a video recording. In general, the Video Browser operates by first generating a set of one or more mosaic images from the video recording. In one embodiment, these mosaics are further clustered using an adjustable similarity threshold. User selection of a particular video mosaic then initiates a playback of corresponding video frames. However, in contrast to conventional mosaicing schemes which simply play back the set of frames used to construct the mosaic, the Video Browser provides a playback of only those individual frames within which a particular point selected within the image mosaic was observed. Consequently, user selection of a point in one of the image mosaics serves to provide a targeted playback of only those frames of interest, rather than playing back the entire image sequence used to generate the mosaic.


IBM

Want to exclude certain pages or pages linked to or from that page from search results that you see in a search engine? The method described in the following document would enable a browser to help make that happen.

Administration of search results
Invented by Susann Marie Keohane, Gerald Francis McBrearty, Shawn Patrick Mullen, Jessica Murillo, and Johnny Meng-Han Shieh
Assigned to IBM
US Patent Application 20060122972
Published June 8, 2006
Filed December 2, 2004

Abstract

Administration of search results including displaying by a browser a set of search results from a web search, each search result containing a link to a web page; selecting a search result for exclusion from display, thereby identifying a selected search result, including selecting for exclusion from display search results containing related links, wherein related links include links related to the link in the selected search result; and displaying the search results without the selected search result and without the search results containing related links.

Gathering information on a specific topic throughout the web could be helpful in many endeavors, including intelligence gathering and marketing research. A focused random crawl on a specific topic could gather information more quickly and inexpensively than a full crawl of the web.

System, method, and service for using a focused random walk to produce samples on a topic from a collection of hyper-linked pages
Invented by Ziv Bar-Yossef, Tapas Kanungo, and Robert Krauthgamer
Assigned to IBM
US Patent Application 20060122998
Published June 8, 2006
Filed December 4, 2004


Abstract

A focused random walk system produces samples of on-topic pages from a collection of hyper-linked pages such as Web pages. The focused random walk system utilizes a focused random walk to produce a focused sample, which is a random sample of Web pages focused on a topic. The focused random walk system uniformly samples pages iteratively, where each iteration follows a random link from a union of the in-links and out-links of a page. The system then classifies this randomly selected link to determine whether the page is on-topic. The random walk sampling process could comprise a hard-focus method that selects only on-topic pages at each step of the focused random walk, or a soft-focus method that allows limited divergence to off-topic pages.


Google

In recent months, Google has had patent applications published on the use of predictive queries in the context of making it easier to work with mobile devices, in applications like Google Suggest, and in a version of Google Suggest system for languages that don't use alphabetical characters. This next patent application talks about predictive queries primarily in the context of increasing the speed of returned results.

Predictive information retrieval
Invented by Shumeet Baluja and Henry Rowley
US Patent Application 20060122976
Published June 8, 2006
Filed December 3, 2004


Abstract

A computer-implemented method for generating results for a client-requested query involves receiving a query produced by a client communication device, generating a result for the query in response to reception of the query, determining one or more predictive follow-up requests before receiving an actual follow-up request from the client device, and initiating retrieval of information associated with the one or more predictive follow-up requests, and transmitting at least part of the result to the client device, and then transmitting to the client device at least part of the information associated with the one or more predictive follow-up requests.


Yahoo

Yahoo is building a nice series of patents involving indexing on the basis of concept units. Last month, we looked at a newly granted patent from Yahoo involving the generation of concept units from search queries. As noted there, the patent is one of three filings that use the unit concept to help understand and index pages. A couple of newly published patent applications from Yahoo build upon the methods described in those documents to categorize concepts and build taxonomies of concepts.

Automatic generation of taxonomies for categorizing queries and search query processing using taxonomies
Invented by Shyam Kapur, Jignashu Parikh, and Deepa Joshi
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20060122994
Published June 8, 2006
Filed December 6, 2004

Abstract

Systems and methods for processing search requests are provided, including automatic generation of taxonomies and query processing using those taxonomies.


Search processing with automatic categorization of queries
Invented by Shyam Kapur, Jignashu Parikh, and Deepa Joshi
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20060122979
Published June 8, 2006
Filed December 6, 2004

Abstract

Search results are processed using search requests, including analyzing received queries in order to provide a more sophisticated understanding of the information being sought. A concept network is generated from a set of queries by parsing the queries into units and defining various relationships between the units. From these concept networks, queries can be automatically categorized into categories, or more generally, can be associated with one or more nodes of a taxonomy. The categorization can be used to alter the search results or the presentation of the results to the user. As an example of alterations of search results or presentation, the presentation might include a list of "suggestions" for related search query terms. As other examples, the corpus searched might vary depending on the category or the ordering or selection of the results to present to the user might vary depending on the category. Categorization might be done using a learned set of query-node pairs where a pair maps a particular query to a particular node in the taxonomy. The learned set might be initialized from a manual indication of which queries go with which nodes and enhanced has more searches are performed. One method of enhancement involves tracking post-query click activity to identify how a category estimate of a query might have varied from an actual category for the query as evidenced by the category of the post-query click activity, e.g., a particular hits of the search results that the user selected following the query. Another method involved determining relationships between units in the form of clusters and using clustering to modify the query-node pairs.

My usual reminder about patents: Some of the processes and technology described in patents are created in house, and some are developed with the assistance of contractors and partners. A percentage are never developed in a tangible manner, but may serve as a way to attempt to exclude others from using the technology, or even to possibly mislead competitors into exploring an area that they might not have an interest in (sometimes skepticism is good.)

There are times when a Google or Yahoo acquires a company to gain access to the intellectual property of that company, or the intellectual prowess and expertise of that company's employees. And sometimes patents are just purchased.

Want to comment or discuss? Visit our Search Technology & Relevancy area of the Search Engine Watch Forums.


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