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Google Announces Programming Contest Winner

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Google has awarded a $10,000 prize to a programmer who created a program that lets users to search for web pages within a specified geographic area.

The prize was awarded to Daniel Egnor, of New York. According to Google spokesperson Nate Tyler, "Daniel´s program enables users to restrict searches to pages that are located near a specified address which can be useful for queries that are difficult to answer using keyword searches such as 'find me all bookstores near my house.'

"To make this possible, Daniel used freely available geographic data to convert street addresses on web pages to latitude-longitude-based coordinates."

Although geo searching is not (yet) incorporated into Google, there are similar services available on the web. Northern Light has introduced geo searching years ago, and although its primary web interface has been shut down, you can still use its web search engine via a "back door" at the NL Research site (URL below).

Another "purer" geo search service is offered by Lasoo, which allows you to click on a map of the world and "lasoo" a particular area, then restrict your search to that area.

If you want a glimpse at the kinds of search technologies Google thinks are important, take a look at the five honorable mention winners. These aren't for the faint of heart, ranging from "Markovian Page Ranking Distributions" to "Index Compression Through Document Reordering." But they provide some degree of insight into the kinds of problems Google thinks are important and may be focusing attention on solving.

Interestingly, one of the honorable mentions went to a project that SearchDay wrote about nearly a year ago: Robust hyperlinks. This is a method of using the actual contents of a web page to create its unique "signature" that remains the same regardless of where the document resides on the web.

Will these notable programs ever become part of Google? The company has no current plans to incorporate them into the search engine, according to spokesperson Tyler. But it's a safe bet that they're not just going to shelve them, either. Stay tuned.

2002 Google Programming Contest Winner
http://www.google.com/programming-contest/winner.html
Descriptions of the winning and honorable mention entries in the 2002 Google programming contest.

The End of 404s?
SearchDay, June 13, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/01/sd0613-404.html
There's nothing more frustrating than clicking a link only to see '404 - Page Not Found'. Two U.C. Berkeley professors have proposed a solution that could banish aggravating 404s from the web forever, and Google has given them an honorable mention in the 2002 programming awards.

Northern Light Research
http://nlresearch.northernlight.com/research.html
A "back door" into Northern Light's web search engine that's still available to the public.

Lasoo
http://www.lasoo.com/
Lasoo is a geosearch engine that lets you locate over 25 million businesses and websites worldwide.

Somewherenear
http://somewherenear.com/
Somewherenear is a UK oriented geographic search engine, a guide for leisure or business travellers looking for places to visit, food, accommodation and more.

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