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ergophobe - 6:03 am on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

 if i ask you, 'did you see president obama today?'

1. What phranque said.

2. Even to the question at hand - if I don't know that "today" is conceptually the same as "September 16" (i.e. if I don't understand that relationship), then the question is hard to answer. Remove the date stamp from your post and I lose that relationship and since last I checked in was yesterday, I wouldn't know whether you were asking whether I saw the president on Sept 15 or Sept 16. Because I'm really good at parsing relationships, I look at your post and realize that you're actually asking whether I saw the president on Sept 15.

In short, without understanding the relationship, I can't do the search. That's the simplest case of course, but it illustrates the importance of relationships just fine.

 same information that was already available on a 10-year old website

1. what phranque said

2. Sure, but that's focusing on the result. I can search through an unordered list of terms right now. If a quantum computer came along, it could search through an unordered list too. So what's the big deal? There is no new data, so who cares?

But if I search now, the best I can do is linear time: O(N). With a quantum computer, I can use Grover's Algorithm [en.wikipedia.org] and perform that search in O(N^1/2).

The result is the same. The algorithm to arrive at it is not. When the first quantum computer powerful enough to run Grover's Algo comes online, it will no doubt look unimpressive compared to the best digital computer. But the method does make a difference. Both linear search and Grover algo search yield data we already have. And yet, in the long run, a system that can run the Grover algo will revolutionize search.

If all Google is doing is writing custom code that extracts the Bacon Number from IMDB, then yes, you're right. Yawn, ho hum.

If what they are doing is designing a smart system that can use a generalized algo to pull data relationships from data sets, as they claim, and the Bacon Number Calculator is just a fun test case, then this is huge.

Sure, at the test-case phase it's just yielding data we have already, but a test case has to be based on data we already have, otherwise you can't verify the results easily and make sure the system is working. But the method used to find that data matters a lot.