World’s fastest search engine ‘Cuil’ launched

July 28th, 2008 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, July 28 (IANS) Pitched as the world’s latest, largest and swiftest search engine, Cuil was launched Monday with 120 billion pages or ‘thrice’ the volume of the Google index. Described as a ’super-stealth search project’, it has been founded and developed by the highly respected husband-wife duo of Stanford professor Tom Costello and former Google search architect Anna Patterson.

Originally Cuill, pronounced as ‘cool,’ Irish for knowledge, has now been named ‘Cuil’. A report on the web quoting the founders claimed that it is “bigger, faster and better than Google’s flagship search engine in pretty much every way”.

The Internet has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 15 years, speedily outpacing search engines. But Cuil is expected to search more web pages than Google - its nearest competitor - and 10 times as many as the search engine of Microsoft.

Where Cuil scores over rivals is the way it indexes the web and handle queries by users. Both are costly operations, but Cuil claims to have found a way to slash those costs.

A search for dogs, for example, will return category results for “water dogs,” “crossbreed”, “cocker spaniel” and so on. Some of these related terms do not include the term “dog”.

Similarly by clicking on New York, one would get tabbed results for recommended refinements like New York Times, New York City, New York Yankees and so on.

A search for “Harry” would throw up different tabs for “Harry Potter” and “Prince Harry of Wales”. Further, the Harry Potter tab will provide more sub-links devoted to actors, Gryffindor dorm-mates and others associated with the series.

That would permit Cuil’s founders to operate the search engine much more cheaply, even at Google-scale should it ever reach that point. Google incurs an expenditure of a billion dollars every year on running the infrastructure of its search business.

Cuil also works to understand how words are related. Say France - cheese - wine, to get more relevant results. This is a semantic search approach very different from Powerset’s natural language approach.

Powerset uses artificial intelligence to try to grasp what sentences on a website actually mean. Cuil, by comparison, simply tries to categorise and file a web page, even if the category name doesn’t appear on the site.

However, Rafe Needleman, writing on the Cuil homepage, cautioned that “it’s one thing to have a nice interface and show users good results, but the size of the web index that the engine has access to matters a lot as well”.

“Compared with Google’s globe-spanning network of data centres, some literally set up near dams so they can tap hydro power more efficiently, Cuil’s two puny data centres hosting less than 2,000 PCs total will have to run pretty fast to outpace Google’s crawlers.

“As a business proposition, Cuil is obviously a big bet … No other search engine has come close to entering the public consciousness like this. Of course, Cuil doesn’t have to trounce Google on day one. It took Google quite some time to surpass Alta Vista and Yahoo in the search wars.”

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