The anatomy of a search engine

Like all librarians, I am curious about the information architecture behind search tools – infrastrucure and alogorithms. As I am not a mathematician or an information systems professional, some answers can become too complex.

However, I have found a couple of gems about Google. The first takes us back in time to Stanford University and two eager students, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, working on a large-scale prototype search engine. The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine introduces some key ideas that we are now familiar with – but which were revolutionary and which underpin the force of Google today.

We know from The Google Story just how different the Google setup is. David Carr in How Google Works explains:

Google buys, rather than leases, computer equipment for maximum control over its infrastructure. Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt defended that strategy in a May 31 call with financial analysts. “We believe we get tremendous competitive advantage by essentially building our own infrastructures,” he said.

Google does more than simply buy lots of PC-class servers and stuff them in racks, Schmidt said: “We’re really building what we think of internally as supercomputers.”

Previous search engines had not analyzed links in the systematic way that Google did – all part of the original ideas of the two young researchers. If you’d like more answers to your question, How Does a Google Query Work, provides a few clues.