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Google get’s Cuil; the return of Anna Patterson

Some interesting news broke yesterday (on Search Engine Land) that I thought was worth noting here. While, on the surface, it probably means very little to the average search geek, to me this is huge.

According to the article, it seems that Anna Patterson has re-emerged at Google. Still not excited? Ok, a little background;

  • Anna was once a Googler that left to start the (failed) search engine Cuil.
  • She was previously responsible for large scale engine infrastructure
  • She was the main architect of the phrase based IR series of patents.

That last one? This is what has me all giddy. Over the years Google has published a wide variety of patents relating to semantic analysis, but none had the scope and breadth of the series (of 9 patents) on phrase based indexing and retrieval. Why does that get me going? Because it was one of the most full featured semantic analysis approaches I’ve seen.

What’s this mean?

One can’t help but consider that this means Google must have truly seen value in Anna. Not only does she specialize in large scale engines, but brings these semantic golden nuggets to the table.

We also, not to beat up on a wounded equine, but it once more highlights why we can’t take approaches such as LDA to heart as THE method of choice as far as semantic analysis at Google is concerned (for more see; Google Rankings and LDA ). If you’re on the LDA bandwagon, you may want to re-consider that.

More on PaIR;





  1. simo December 16, 2010

    hard to say how much a single person can influence the way things are going, the news is cool anyway, means they both have some fast-fail/fast-learning tech 😉

  2. Doc December 17, 2010

    I agree that it’s probably indicative of the direction that Google is going in. You don’t hear about a lot of people leaving the ‘Plex and returning. Keep watching for new patents, and let us know if some new semantic stuff is submitted, eh?

  3. Bill Slawski December 17, 2010

    I was really excited to hear the news of Anna Patterson’s return to Google as well. The Phrase-Based indexing patents presented one of the most interesting frameworks for search that I’ve seen in Google’s patents.

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