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Learning Algos

Are they behind Google's recent behaviour?



12:28 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

It has been suggested that Google will henceforth be making small algo changes several times a month in future. Why would they do this - well here's the likely explanation.

When I was university many moons ago, people were beginning to experiment with learning algos. I did not ever get into this, but I think I can still remember the basics - it goes something like this.

1) You have a complex system that cannot be easily analysed mathematically for optimum performance.
2) You have a number of parameters you can change on the system - we'll call them levers.
3) You choose a number of benchmark tests to decide if changes to the levers are good or bad. Typically, the number of benchmarks should not exceed the number of levers but that's another story.
4) You design an automated algo that randomly moves the levers (in small increments, one at a time) and measures the results. If there is an improvement, the change is kept otherwise it is discarded.
5) You seed the algo by choosing known sensible positions for the levers.
6) You hit the GO DO IT button.

Almost certainly, Google have such a program. However, I rather suspect that they don't fully understand the limitations.

1) Filters (i.e. system behaviour) must be smooth otherwise results between the benchmarks cannot be reasonably interpolated. In other words, the whole concept can become complete garbage.
2) If your benchmarks are poorly chosen, results will be poor.
3) When a system has many levers, you have to periodically throw in some wild changes, otherwise the program can become trapped in peaks or troughs.

In the past, I'm sure Google has done all this in private and the end results simply appeared at the monthly dance. However, maybe Google are so confident of their system that they now plan to go public with this. On the face of it, that might seem stupid, but if a decision has been taken to measure user interaction and base benchmarks on that, then they have no choice. The simplest measure that they might use is to track the number of results that a user clicks for a search, together with the position of those results in the SERPS.



1:39 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

its a pretty big leap from possible slight algo tweaks every month to self-learning uber search engine with little or no evidence!

however i am kind of curious as to how many of these Joe Ordinary surfers with the G Toolbar enable PR and the advanced features. I'd guess most don't given the warnings that the install pops up about implications of using them.

can the toolbar send info back to google if the advanced features aren't enabled? cos I swear I read in the install its not meant to...


1:46 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

"g" isn't meant to give spammy cross eyed serps either ( if you beleive the rhetoric ) .....

But whats it been doing ....

look at the data tranfer rate ( upwards )when you use it ( options off ) as against ( options on )...

go one step further and "sniff" your own machine for data content when doing said exercise ..

Rest my case...........


2:09 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Assuming the G toolbar is used to investigate search habits, whether by underhand means or not (IMO I'd be very surprised if they were using it in and underhand way) I wonder how the data is used.

Do they check, for example, how many people go to result 60 before they click on something? This would be a real teller.


2:09 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

so sue them. i'm sure when faced with your 'evidence' a fat out of court settlement will fall into your lap in no time!


3:43 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Who says I want to sue them ..
If I were they and I could do this I would ...

I don't like their results but I do think this is normal marketing feedback techniques.....

And not too different from the way that they already use for "sense" and "words" anyway .....

Synth ...You suprise me ...since when did you beleive that they'd tell you if they did ...?

They might .."ho..hummm".. "well errrr yes"..a bit..
when you notice thats all ...

It's not like they ever said they didn't ( I read the bar toc carefully )....

Remember "I did not have s*x with that woman " depends how you define your world view words .......

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