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Google Patents Search Algorithm

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the google-this dept.

Patents 367

blastedtokyo writes "Google gets the first web search patent. According to this News.com.com article, Google was able to patent how they crawl and rank web pages. They claim "an improved search engine that refines a document's relevance score based on interconnectivity of the document within a set of relevant documents.""

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367 comments

me first (-1, Offtopic)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395575)

FEEL THAT?!

OMG MORE PATENTS!!! (4, Insightful)

govtcheez (524087) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395580)

Let's start screaming about how evil patents are and... oh wait, it's Google (and /. loves Google), so we'll get "Thank God they're this innovative and patented it before someone else stole it."

Re:OMG MORE PATENTS!!! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395633)

Does this mean that with their algorithm now publicly available, we're going to find more "googlebuster" sites finding ways to improve their rankings?

Re:OMG MORE PATENTS!!! (2, Interesting)

ManUMan (571203) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395636)

I think we miss the point many times about patents. While it is certianly the case that many people use patents to protect "inventions" that have been around for a while, I think that patents should be granted for truly inovative discoveries.

Perhaps the problem is that it is hard to decide when someone is actually seeking to protect a real discovery instead of using the law to pad their pocketbook.

--JS

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395581)

two kids and a bitchy wife... what more can i say

Patents and evil things, oh no! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395585)

Oh, wonderful. I'm just waiting for the "google is evil!" campaign to start any minute now since they have a patent...

"an improved search engine" (-1, Troll)

dapuk (603973) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395590)

relative to what?

Not First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395591)

This is not the first post so you may continue reading.

Mis-title (4, Informative)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395592)

It's not really their Search algorithm, it's their method of comprehensive PageRanking.

They basically measure Web pages as either 1) portals, or 2) authorities.

Sites like Kuro5hin [kuro5hin.org] and *nix [starnix.org] have a lot of "Google juice" (i.e. weight in their ranking system) because they have so many links to other sites, while also garnering a slew of links to their main page.

Re:Mis-title (5, Informative)

MilTan (171504) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395723)

PageRank doesn't actually distinguish between "portals" and "authorities." It "only" does a link-analysis of the web by essentially mutiplying some ranking vector by a matrix representing the links in the web, with a random jump to another location taking place with a certain probability to create a new ranking vector. Once this converges, you have the new "PageRank."

PageRank scores are calculated completely independently of the search query. You are probably thinking of Kleinbergs HITS (or Hubs and Authorities) algorithm which uses an initial search query to prune the search space, and then identifies hubs and authorities in the web. In contrast to PageRank, which only uses forward links to calculate its rankings, HITS uses both forward and "backward" links to figure out its ratings. Furthermore, unlike PageRank, HITS produces different scores for different queries.

The above tells us the following: That Kuro5hin and Slashdot have high pageranks not because of their excessive numbers of outlinks, but because many people point to their frontpages. Similarly, these high PageRanks mean that people that Slashdot or Kuro5hin point to get higher scores as well.

Re:Mis-title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395811)

Not true.

I've worked on both and implemented both. You're first paragraph is generally right, but your latter ones are not as accurate.

The parent to your comment is generally correct.

Its NewRank, no PageRank (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395847)

That is not the patent for PageRank. PageRank had already been patented by Stanford University, before Google was created, when it was a community effort.
This new patent is a patent over an improvement of PageRank, what they call now LocalRank and NewRank. It is designed to stop competitor from developing pagerank-like technologies. Armed with that kind of patent, they can stop Teoma, open-sorce Aspseek and others from developing similar technologies.
What they are tryng to do is extend patents over citation ranking and peer-review, something that has been around since the creation of the first libraries. This is NOT good. This means no more money from the suits to any citation-ranking related effor in any start-up, fearing litigation. It means no more installations of open-source Aspseek (Google Appliance's competitor )in corporate environments, because of fear of litigation.

This is sad.

heres the code (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395595)

10 run bot
20 goto 10

BASIC? (0)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395728)

The thought that Google is powered by BASIC makes me shiver.

How about:

while( google->still_in_business() )
{
google->run_bot();
}

Take that, (-1, Offtopic)

gloohufr (608470) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395599)

exoticleatherwear.com !

Good for them... (5, Interesting)

DCowern (182668) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395602)

They thought of a way to improve upon an existing invention. They were the first to do it. They want to make money from their idea. It's only logical for them to seek a patent. I guess congratulations are in order!

Not that outrageous (5, Insightful)

Nikk Name (649179) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395648)

Compared to other "patent the fork" icon'ed items, this one is not that outrageous.

Google's way of doing thing was certainly not the first way to search, it is not the most obvious way to search, it is not the only way to search, and it might not be the best way to search (something better likely will come along). In other words, I don't think this patent will harass many others at all.

This is nothing near as bad as Amazon patenting message boards attached to sale items, or "one-click shopping" being patented.

Re:Good for them... (5, Insightful)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395666)

It's not a question of whether Google is 'good' or 'evil'. It's a question of whether the patent office was right to grant this patent, and whether a patent system that includes software is of greater economic benefit to society than one that does not.

You can ask: if patents on computer programs were not available, would Google have developed their idea anyway?

Re:Good for them... (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395860)

> You can ask: if patents on computer programs were
> not available, would Google have developed their
> idea anyway?

Seeing as they made it work and its been around for years before the patent, I'd have to say yes :)

Re:Good for them... (2, Insightful)

Kynde (324134) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395673)

They thought of a way to improve upon an existing invention. They were the first to do it. They want to make money from their idea. It's only logical for them to seek a patent. I guess congratulations are in order!

Yeah, that's a constructive way to look at it. Thank god that hasn't been the mentality when people have been working on, say, RFCs.

Nice trolling though...

Re:Good for them... (4, Insightful)

DCowern (182668) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395765)

I'm sorry I came off trollish but I just don't see why every patent is seen as evil on Slashdot. I agree wholeheartedly that the patent system has gotten out of control. I just don't agree that every patent is evil. In a lot of cases, businesses need patents to exist. For example, what would happen if Microsoft figured out how to implement Google's page rank system and implemented it on MSN? Google would have no recourse and Microsoft has approximately 80 bajillion times the resources of Google and could easily out market them.

And by the way... the difference between patents and RFCs is that with RFCs, there's no expectations of profit. They're made in cases where, as a previous poster pointed out, the greater societal benefit outweighs potential profits. Many RFCs and IEEE standards are based on corporate IP anyway, especially ones dealing with network protocols. Token Ring, FDDI, and Ethernet were all proprietary standards back in the day...

Re:Good for them... (3, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395703)

"They thought of a way to improve upon an existing invention. They were the first to do it. They want to make money from their idea."

(I've got some kharma to burn, so why not...)

Couldn't it be argued, then, that Amazon improved upon online purchasing with their one-click process?

Re:Good for them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395787)

patents have to (well at least in the UK they do) actually be inventive too.

Good for them... (5, Insightful)

theGreater (596196) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395720)

...because they're Google. But if it were Microsoft patenting "an improved method for giving help to users", say maybe the help files vs. man pages, people would flame about prior art, talk endlessly out of their anuses about how Bill Gates is trying to wrest control of the tinfoil hat co-op from Mac users, and generally be nuisances.

I love /.ing while in class, but honestly, people. Google gives a C&D letter, we all golf clap and say "way to defend your IP!" Someone else does it, and we all run to chillingeffects to boycott / whine / gripe / whatever.

Here's a thought... get off your hobbyhorse, and start evaluating things based on FACTS, not the general feeling of techno-elitism you get from pretending you're cool because you get jokes written in PERL.

And mod me -5 Troll, if you want. But it's the damned truth, and you know it.

-theGreater.

Re:Good for them... (1)

DCowern (182668) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395791)

I'm with you up to the point that you think I'm being exclusive. I'm as tired as you are of the duplicity. As I stated elsewhere in this thread, I'm not against patents... no matter who is getting them. I'm against frivolous patents being granted in cases where there is obvious prior art. I agree that if Microsoft does something new and innovative, they too deserve patents for their work. Plain and simple.

Re:Good for them... (0, Interesting)

MartinG (52587) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395744)

Actually, I don't believe they did invent it. They have stated themselves that they accidentally found their useful search algorythm while trying to devise something else (a system for rating pages IIRC).

So, personally I would say they discovered it rather than invented.

Still can't do phrase searches! (0, Insightful)

Nikk Name (649179) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395607)

And Google still cannot do accurate phrase searches! The 2nd and 4th result of searching on "to be or not to be" produces is erroneous. I won't give up on Altavista until Google can do accurate searches reliably.

But this is Google. (2, Insightful)

Furan (98791) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395610)

Google(for now at least) have been very good about the way they handle their business. They're not exactly evil. Hell, patenting their algorithm is probably a good idea now that AltaVista has a new owner.

Patents creating artificial monopolies (5, Insightful)

taumeson (240940) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395614)

Patents are a tool for creating temporary, artificial monopolies.

With that said, aren't you glad Google might be able to stay on top and profitable, instead of having to resort to banner ad revenue, etc?

Re:Patents creating artificial monopolies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395732)

Patents are a tool for fueling innovation, sometimes (and rightfully) resulting in temporary monopolies.

Would you pony up large amounts of money in R&D costs for a new product or process just to have your product/process/whatever duplicated by every slacked jawed yokel in your industry? I know wouldn't.

Are there bad patents? Sure. Does that mean the idea is flawed? Nope!

Re:Patents creating artificial monopolies (2, Insightful)

lavalyn (649886) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395748)

And keep every other search engine out on patent infringement? This just means Google can position itself as the only search engine using linkage networks, and not have to improve its products in the face of nonexistent competition.

Re:Patents creating artificial monopolies (3, Insightful)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395760)

Patents are a tool for creating temporary, artificial monopolies.

Yeah, I agree. Still not all monopolies are bad; I guess it depends on the character of the company that has the monopoly; or what they do with it, or don't do with it. In the US, monopolies aren't illegal, although some of the freedoms that you have if you aren't a monopoly are removed. This seemed to upset Microsoft no end: "we've done nothing wrong, we aren't really a monopoly. Yeah right. Or actually, no, wrong.

Not necessarily... (4, Informative)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395825)

Patents are also widely used as a means of rewarding an inventor by giving them an avenue to license their technology to one or many users who can then implement it into commercial products. In that way you don't get a monopoly, nor does the inventor have to provide the capital required to bring something to market. You only get a monopoly if the patent holder refuses to sell licenses, or sells it to a single user.

Think fuel injectors [autofieldguide.com] , for example, which are made by several suppliers, but have a patent holder who gets license revenue.

Prevent the spread of a deficient technology. (5, Interesting)

expro (597113) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395843)

So, the bright side of this patent is that perhaps it will keep others from focusing on Google's obsession -- the reference popularity contest. But like any patent, it is subject to abuse, not that we know at all how Google intends to enforce it.


I have requested improvements to Google's algorithms for years to make it more possible to search for a specific thing, rather than just a popular thing, but they don't have engineers, apparently, who understand these basic needs.


AltaVista lets you wildcard, search for one word NEAR another word, use common words as part of a phrase, and construct a variety of very useful filters that are impossible with Google's popularity engine.


AltaVista used to be the best out there, but compromised their own usefulness. If AV indexed more pages and had not dropped their usenet coverage, it would still be the most useful engine by far to an advanced searcher -- one looking for very specific things. I still go there often. Just because the masses use Google does not make it quality or best for advanced users. They have stagnated for years now. The masses use a lot of things produced by monopolists who are no longer required to innovate or even improve to the level of the competition.


watch out (0, Interesting)

I Want GNU! (556631) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395617)

Here comes corporate Google!

Whatever happened to the morals of Google "don't be evil"?

I hope they aren't planning on trying to enforce this patent.

As for the trademark, they actually expect to be able to restrict how people speak? They should be flattered that people use their name so often, it gives them publiclity. And generally people mean "to search with Google" when using the word. I know, I know, screwed up trademark law makes someone aggressively pursue a trademark or give it up, but still...

Re:watch out (5, Insightful)

DCowern (182668) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395705)

What's wrong with what Google is doing? They're simply trying to keep an "edge" on the market. The reason why they're the best search engine out there is because they figured out how to make a better way to rank pages. They deserve to reap the benefits of that invention without anyone else cutting in on their business.

As for the "googling" incident, I just think they're attempting to defend their trademark. If you don't do that kind of stuff, you lose your trademark. Kinda like how Kleenex and Xerox lost theirs (everyone says "may I have a kleenex?" or "could you xerox this?" and so it became colloquial and no longer a trademark).

All Google is trying to do is cover their ass. If they decide one day to try to patent the search engine, then there'll be reason to get up in arms.

Re:watch out (1)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395736)

Here comes corporate Google!
Whatever happened to the morals of Google "don't be evil"?

There is probably nothing immoral in what they have done. You forget that a patent also protects the inventor from someone who is immoral from patenting that invention and then making the original/real inventor pay.
I hope they aren't planning on trying to enforce this patent.

If a patent is genuinely valid, why shouldn't someone protext their invention? They took the risk and spent money developing it - they don't want someone else immediately** getting the benefit of their effort for no cost.

(**Obviously after ~20years a second party can use the technique. That's the basic idea of the patent system - it publishes things which would otherwise be kept as trade secrets, thus advancing technology, in return for a limited monopoly)

Simon

Re:watch out (1)

saddino (183491) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395796)

Whatever happened to the morals of Google "don't be evil"?

Since when did filing for and receving a patent become "evil?"


I hope they aren't planning on trying to enforce this patent.

But that's exactly what patents are for: protecting your implementation of an idea from being copied and used by someone else for profit. You don't want them to sue some "JerkSearch.com" when they just ripoff Google's algorithm and then try to make some money from it?


As for the trademark, they actually expect to be able to restrict how people speak?

The previous /. article involved asking for their trademark to be respected -- that's all. How do you get "restrict how people speak" from this?


Jeez people, is it possible to get away from the pervasive "all IP is bad" groupthink around here?

Joined the evil side? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395620)

Let me guess, as it's everyone's favorite searchengine there will be far less rant about this patent...and probably this will be modded down.

I'm ok with this... (4, Funny)

levik (52444) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395623)

generally, I won't be getting worried until google patents their "I'm feeling lucky" one-click searching.

Third post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395624)

yayy! whoo! wgiiii!

Oh Please - Eugene Garfield did this is 1961 (5, Informative)

tiltowait (306189) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395626)

Google didn't invent the concept behind PageRank, just its name. See my E2 writeup on citation analysis [everything2.com] for more.

if anyone deserves.... (0)

jms258 (569015) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395628)

if anyone deserves the first patent on internet searches it is google.

hmmm.... (4, Insightful)

Kevin Stevens (227724) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395629)

I am not quite sure of the purpose of this article since most patent articles are intended to point out the ridiculousness of the patent system, but this seems like a pretty legit patent to me. They developed a technology that is superior to their peers, that they developed completely in house w/out ripping anyone off. This passes my shadiness test. If anything, we should all be happy now that Google will be publishing some of the details for their system.

Re:hmmm.... (1)

lfourrier (209630) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395715)

if it is patented, it is not some details that will be published, it is enough information for any man of the trade to duplicate their results. And of course, enough information to industrialize googlebombing.
They stay coherent with their patent => anybody can play at googlebombing, and pagerank distortion.
They diverge from their patent and revert to trade secret => anybody can rediscover their actual method, without being infriging. Except if the patents are too broad.

Novel and innovative? (0)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395630)

OK, so is Googles ranking system novel and innovative? Or could most any decent developer have come up with it if it was on their todo lists (1. get more coffee 2. stare at Natalie Portman pix 3. post First Post/In soviet russia on /. 4. develop novel and innovative ranking algo 5. stare at Natalie Portman pix .....)

Is this an example of a "good" software patent?

Re:Novel and innovative? (1)

saddino (183491) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395696)

No, but IMHO this is an example of a valid software patent. The fact is, a "decent developer" didn't come up with this idea and methodology -- or at least, didn't come up with it and patent it before Google's Krishna Bharat did.

Re:Novel and innovative? (2, Insightful)

Kevin Stevens (227724) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395741)

I definitely think so. I mean other search engines have yet to implement it effectively, even though they know in a broad sense how it works (IE they rank pages based on links to the page). I think the 'easily implementable' test can be executed as follows: do you know how to do this? Or if youre not a programmer type, could one of your programmer friends implement this? This is an entire system google developed, not some inanely simple idea some marketing guy thought he was a genius for thinking of (people like to buy things by clicking on as few pages as possible). I feel this is an excellent example of what a software patent should be, especially since the trickiness is in the implementation, as well as the idea.

Response Interesting (1)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395638)

While this is a bit more of a relevant patent than Amazon's 1-Click it's still a bit vague (are most patents?). Of course Google is part of the Good Guys(TM) so let's see how the general /. reacts. Oh, and here's search results for 'Google patent' on Google news [google.com] .

Re:Response Interesting (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395749)

Do you realise that the Google search you link to, shows your comment as the top result? Its a Google loop!

Re: Response Interesting (1)

Corvaith (538529) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395779)

There are a lot of ways of ranking pages, though--of determining which bits of the web are relevant for a certain search term. Every engine has a different way of doing it. This is the area where patents are beneficial; if a place wants to use Google's work, they can pay for it, or else they can come up with their own (perhaps better) method of ranking.

This is as opposed to the patents for things which are either (a) blindingly obvious, or (b) were invented and used long before the patenting company actually got around to it, like trying to patent using a web page to sell something. That's just dumb.

I mean, some people don't like the patent system in general, and that's fine. But at least this one isn't completely mind-numbingly idiotic.

It's official! Netcraft confirms! (-1, Redundant)

borgdows (599861) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395644)

Google is evil!

The nature of the beast (2, Interesting)

the_burton (147439) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395649)

I think that as time goes on, a companies ability to operate without the necessary business operations like patents will diminish. I guess what it comes down to is that if they want to stay at the top, then they have to have patents to protect their IP. Does it mean that some of google's shiny armour will be tarnished? Yes it does, especially in the eyes of all the geeks out there who see patents as the Great Evil. However, the company will remain in business for quite some time, allowing them to keep operating business as usual. So far, business as usual is good enough for me.

Re:The nature of the beast (4, Insightful)

tetro (545711) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395785)

Patents aren't technically evil. It's just the way they're used.

Hmm.. (5, Insightful)

Astin (177479) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395652)

Wow.. an internet patent that might actually make sense. It's not "A method to search through an index of web pages for relevant links to a user request for specific information." But the improvement on it. And it's generally accepted that Google DID improve web searching tremendously and have a unique method of doing it. Of course, this means it will be struck down immediately by some small company that gets a broader patent (see above) and sues them.

hmm (2, Insightful)

oZZoZZ (627043) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395653)

mixed feelings here, I'm sure for everyone. No one is happy when ridicolous patents are filed, but is this a ridicolous patent?

An invention is something new, or an improvement on an existing invention. Google's algorithm is an improvement on an existing invention. However in order to obtain a patent, there must be no prior art and it must be non-obvious. I don't necessarily beleive that the later two fit in this case.

The description of this patent seems more general than it needs to be, so I'm sure prior art can be found to fit the general description of this patent.

Is not so bad... (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395654)

at least we can still use <a href="http://www.google.com/technology/pigeonrank. html">PidgeonRank (tm)</a> without the risk of a lawsuit.

At least the patent is not so about a "common sense" technology (at least, not was in '96), and I don't think that google will sue the other search engines that refines a little the PageRank concept (like i.e. <a href="http://teoma.com">Teoma</a>) but to avoid someone else patent this or something very related.

Sad day for computer scientists (3, Insightful)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395656)

Back when Page and his Stanford pal created Google, they had planned to just simply create a really snazzy and useful research project. From day one and for a couple years, they assured everyone that they would never sell-out and their algorithms and code would remain in the public view.

However, things changed, and they quickly hopped onto the dot-com bandwagon. With this privatization, they closed all their notebooks and journals and stopped teaching others how to implement a great webcrawler and search ranking system.

They made out well, but I feel that the CS community lost a great number of resources. I'm proud of Google and I use it a lot, but I just wish they'd have remained a bit more loyal to the open source community that they started off with.

If it weren't for open BSD code and free database software, Google wouldn't exist today. Don't forget that.

Re:Sad day for computer scientists (4, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395840)

With this privatization, they closed all their notebooks and journals and stopped teaching others how to implement a great webcrawler and search ranking system.

Troll.

The upside to patenting (at least in theory) is that Google no longer has to keep its IP secret, in fear that someone else will copy them. If you're so curious, why don't you request a copy of their patent yourself, and review it.

Re:Sad day for computer scientists (1)

jdclucidly (520630) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395857)

...and business continues to act like business. I can't say I didn't expect this. After all, it was Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the great tycoons, that said, "The public be damned! I'm working for my stockholders!"

Did anyone really expect Google to take the moral high ground?

patent schmatent (0, Troll)

djupedal (584558) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395658)

If it takes a patented search engine to link pages, we're all in big trouble. No one can improve on basic relevance, and claiming first dibs or mine is bigger than yours holds little promise over something we already call 'indexing'. Might as well patent the act of walking as a means of mobility.

This is just another misuse of the system in search of fatter wallets.

patent !=evil (1)

danitor (600348) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395661)

remeber, kids:

patents !=evil.

certain uses of patents =evil.

Re:patent !=evil - No Kidding .. check this out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395695)

http://www.google.ca/apis/download.html

The Google API available for download as a zip is 666 Kilobytes !!!

Slashdot hypocrites... (4, Insightful)

jwriney (16598) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395662)

Aaaagh! Patents are bad! Patents are bad!

(Psst - hey, Google's getting one.)

Uh, well, (grumble) I guess that's okay then, er...

Bring on the wave of apologists.

--riney, Karmakaze

i thought (1)

Meeble (633260) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395665)

I thought a decent portion of the page ranking statistics came from stats collected from the google toolbar [google.com] ?

anyhow from what I've seen if you take a site like slashdot that has thousands of outgoing links, your page ranking is going to bloat possibly higher than what it actually is from the referrers that end up being logged.

Well..... (1)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395668)

At least Google patented something that is really tangible and specific, and not some vague explination of a process or transaction that people have been doing for the past 10 years (like Amazon's "discussing an item" patent).

This patent targets a specific algorythim which Google arguably invented (I don't know whether they did or not, but seeing as how no other search engine has ever come close to their power, I bet that they have).

So? (1)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395670)

This isn't one of those overly broad patents where every search engine is covered. Patent descriptions are conjunctive; to infringe, you need to infringe on every term. So building a search engine based on $FACTOR is okay, as long as $FACTOR is not "page interlinking".

And if you try to fool.. (3, Informative)

Frank of Earth (126705) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395679)

..google, you will feel their wrath [wsj.com]

patent articles on slashdot (1)

rbolkey (74093) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395681)

This may possibly be the first patent article on slashdot that won't have a general lament about the state of the uspo, if at least one of few.

Slashdot patents dupe stories! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395686)

yup, it's a dupe [slashdot.org]

Not entirely unexpected, but... (4, Insightful)

Tet (2721) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395700)

I'm in two minds about this. Should Google get a patent for this? Google have innovated here, and thus the patent is a valid way to reward the effort they put in to designing the system, in exchange for the idea entering the public domain after the patent expires. While the duration of patents in IT related areas needs to be drastically shortened if they're to serve their original purpose, I'm not inherrently opposed to patents like this. The question then becomes, is it sufficiently obvious to anyone in the field that it shouldn't be patentable? Well, it's a tough call. The fact is that no one had done anything like that before Google. If it was so obvious, why not? My personal view is that it's obvious enough that if Google hadn't done it, someone else would have done within a couple of years. So while I don't think the patent should have been granted, I don't think it's as cut and dry a matter as it may at first appear...

The future of Google with this algorithm (2, Insightful)

MondoMor (262881) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395701)

Thanks to blogging, the web is filling up with more and more, shall we say, "crap"?

If "what's popular" is "what's important" according to Google, then how long will it take for the mountains of interlinked banality to make that method useless (or at least make more informative search results harder to find in all the noise).

Don't get me wrong -- I like Google's system, and it's an oustanding site. I just worry about the world's ever-shallowing and more self-referential culture, and its effects on the future.

Although this might be an unpopular opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395707)

I think that what Google did is so novel that they should be granted a patent.

Software patents (4, Informative)

killmenow (184444) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395713)

I find it interesting that because it's google, some /.-ers are saying essentially "good for them!" But at the heart of it, it makes no difference who it is or what their intention is.

Kids, software patents are bad, mm-kay... [mit.edu]

Before long... (1)

rocket_w (574235) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395717)

...they will be interested in patenting web content next. I can see it now, "No really, we are the ones who came up with the idea that websites could have 'information'."

This should be a good thing (1)

lordcorusa (591938) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395719)

This should be a good thing. Google has genuinely improved the concept of the search engine, but their methods have been fairly secretive. Now with this patent protecting them, aren't they required to fully disclose those methods?

Algorithm now public? (4, Interesting)

terrencefw (605681) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395725)

I thought Google's searching/ranking tehcnology was a closely-guarded trade secret, to make sure that people weren't able to engineer their rankings sucessfully.

Now that they've patented their technology, surely that means that it's open to public scrutiny and therefore abuse as people exploit it's shortcomings.

Terminology Bullshitting (1)

millwall (622730) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395735)

"...methods and technology for providing search results in response to an ambiguous search query."

"...methodology and technology for delivering search results that use analysis of Web page usage."

I think the next patent they will file will be for "Web Ranking Terminology Bullshitting".

HA! That's not a Noif, THIS is a Noif! (1)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395737)

I have just finished applying for the patent on *searching* Google. I believe my solution to 'searching a database of links for answers to particular questions' is irrefutable, completely new, and strangely compelling. You may send your licensing checks to:

teamhasnoi
100 teamhasnoi Road
teamhasnoiville, MN 55000

Thanks.

You can't patent knowledge (2, Insightful)

BobRooney (602821) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395745)

Don't get me wrong, google does a great job is easily my favorite search engine. However, does it bother anyone else that they are trying to patent an algorithm? Patents are for specific devices/solutions to problems, not methodologies for solving said problems. An algorithm is an idea; a mathematical or verbal expression of understanding. As such there should never be a patent granted because it could never be enforced. In order to enforce a patented idea you need to control how people think. (ah the 1984 references) Short of mind control, you cant stop people from sharing an idea or using it themselves, or modifying it for the betterment of such an idea.

Re:You can't patent knowledge (1)

saddino (183491) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395856)

I think you're a bit confused. Patents aren't supposed to stop others from "thinking" about an idea or "sharing" an idea. Patents are supposed to protect your particular implementation of an idea from being copied. Algorithms are patentable (see GIF compression, MP3 en/decoding, etc.) and Google is simply protecting theirs. Think about Google's algorithm all you want -- share it with anyone you want, but don't use the exact same algorithm when you decide to create your own search engine. That's all.

Inktomi were doing this before google existed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395746)

Inktomi *so* have prior art on this. It's interesting to note that they are however owned by Yahoo now - who also own a big slice of google..

THEN PUT THE CODE IN THE PATENT NOTICE!!! (0, Flamebait)

Booie Paog (640418) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395755)

not placing source in software patents goes against what patents were made for. and let me guess, after 20 years, they'll extend it ? BULLSH*T. does ANYONE know of lawmakers/senators that are out to rehaul the patent system ? ANYONE ?

mixed emotions (0, Troll)

sootman (158191) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395758)

google, hooray! er, I mean, patents, boooo! dammit, I just don't know *how* to feel.

Sad News ... Fred Rodgers dead at 74 (-1, Offtopic)

Lethyos (408045) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395766)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - star of Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood and community advocate Fred Rodgers was found dead in his Pittsburgh home this morning [washingtonpost.com] . There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his television show, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Re:Sad News ... Fred Rodgers dead at 74 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395826)

off topic maybe, but at least it's true
im not sure how this should be modded? troll?

Outcomes? (1)

boer (653809) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395767)

So what will come of this? Less choices for users?

Good thing with these software patents is that eventually we will have one and only corpotation for every specific service, and users don't have to pore over hard choices.

Please remind me how I should feel... (1)

jvl001 (229079) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395781)

I can no longer keep /. patent opinion straight. Should I be happy or outraged?

Hold on a minute (0, Troll)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395783)

I'm not how to react, so let me think this out.

OK, Google is good b/c they have such a useful search site and it's really fast and reliable.

But, patents are bad b/c they generally are overextended into the realm of "natural augmentation" that existing systems would eventually become in the future. So, I guess Google is bad.

Wait, though, how would I survive without Google's Image Search or Cacheing system. Clearly they're good.

Well, sure, they're both helpful, but deep down there's an epistemological debate in my heart that simply cannot be hushed. Google is wrong for exploiting free software for their own good and then patenting their creations into privacy and not sharing their own work. Google is bad!

OK, that's fine and good, but the bottom line is that many every day things aren't totally right or just. Cars aren't open source, but how could I get to work without one. So, I guess Google really isn't all that bad.

Today's conclusion: Google is good!

Re:Hold on a minute (1)

Booie Paog (640418) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395849)

google is not all that bad...but software patents should be requiring applicants to include their source.

Timleliness of claiming a patent (1)

halfelf (646037) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395784)

Not really sure when Google first started using this method of web indexing, but it seems to me that at least they are patenting it fairly soon after they came up with it. I also don't know of anyone else with pre-existing examples of this --- unlike 3/4 of the other "web patent" crap that's been claimed by various and sundry organizations...

Will look the other way for Google (1)

IgD (232964) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395793)

Normally I would wine paste a bunch of anti-patent stuff here. However, I really like Google and am willing to give them a pass on this one. They really do provide a good service and have to make money somehow!!!

Re:Will look the other way for Google (2, Insightful)

Booie Paog (640418) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395832)

they can make money, and still put the source code in the patent! software patents disregard the original concept of patents...namely, you have to SHOW what you are patening, including the inner workings of the discovery/invention. if they want a patent, then include the source.

Why not go for it directly? (1)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395801)

Patent graph theory right away!

Prior Art? (3, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395807)

Wouldn't google be... wait... nevermind.

There's a reason I only ever use their search engine now. Well two reasons. One is that about half the time I run searches there, what I'm looking for is the first thing on the list. The second is they are very not obnoxious about their advertising. And I've probably clicked through more google ads than any other banner ads on the net. That's right, I'm much more likely to follow information that looks like it pertains to what I'm looking for right now over some obnoxious Javascript ad (Which usually make me turn Javascript off and reload.)

Very similar to Google's method, I've seen CNN and USA Today run ads disguised as news stories in their tech sections. Unlike google, which clearly marks the ads, CNN and USA Today are simply compromising their journalistic integrity. As if those two words have been put together in a single sentence since Cronkite left the industry.

Where was I? Oh yes. In principle, software patents offend me. Well... and most of the rest of the slashdot population apparently. Being able to patent something that doesn't have a physical presence (Be it programs or math or business processes) is counter-productive. Especially since the patent office seems to rubber stamp every application that hits their desk. Hey. If you don't like it, write a civil nastygram to your congresscritter. Do NOT use the word "Fuck." That tends to turn them off. And in extreme case, get you visits from very grumpy people who seem to have something against doors. We're starting to see some technologically clueful folks in office, so the more people who write, the higher the chance that someone in the know might get the message.

Its a non-obvious invention (3, Insightful)

DeadSea (69598) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395808)

This is one patent that should be granted. It's no one-click shopping patent, it's no "put an e- in front of it" patent. If Google weren't doing it, then I wouldn't have thought to do it myself.

Having a patent on it means that Google will be the only viable search engine for the next twenty years if it chooses not to license the patent. Is that what we really want? I could see four or five years, but twenty years is a good percentage of my lifetime. Google is an innovative company, but who's to say somebody couldn't do it better after a few years by building on the idea. The first implementation almost always sucks compared to clones.

Oh no... (1, Funny)

dghcasp (459766) | more than 11 years ago | (#5395818)

Does this mean we have to hate google now? I don't want to go back to Altavista...

PATENTS AREN'T BAD - POORLY AWARDED PATENTS ARE (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395845)

Let me give you an example from the non-IT world - perfume. You cannot patent a smell/fragrance, but you can patent the formula you use to achieve that fragrance. Which is why there are knock-offs.

The patents we all scream about are those that are comparable to the "fragrance" - patenting the concept of the shopping cart or the concept of transferring multimedia streams over the Internet. The Patent Office violated their own rules when awarding patents like that.

Google didn't patent the concept of a ranking system, they patented the way they do it. And that is a good patent. It patents the formula and not the fragrance.

If someone can figure out how to achieve the same result with a diffrent formula, more power to 'em!

Patent Obsession: Today's UF Topic (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5395846)

What a coincidence. Today's UF topic covers patent obsession. Check it out. [userfriendly.org] Although amazon.com is the target of the joke, it shows how patent-obsessed software companies can be. I'd say it sure does a good job satirizing it. Who knows? Maybe Google will be targeted in tomorrow's strip.
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