Announces New Search Algorithm “Edison”

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Barry Schwartz posted today at Search Engine Roundtable that he discussed a new social search ranking algorithm, code-named Edison, with Apostolos Gerasoulis, Co-founder of Teoma Technologies, which is owned by the company that runs

The algorithm was disclosed at a Search Engine Strategies Conference on Social Search earlier today. Barry has more details in his post – To Launch New Search Algorithm Code Named Edison.

The choice of name in interesting. has had three different patent applications published in the last three weeks. Barry also covered this news at Search Engine Land in – Goodbye Teoma Algorithm, Hello Edison, Says – which includes an interesting update from Rahul Lahiri, Vice President of Product Management and Search Technology at He references modernized versions of Teoma and DirectHit technologies that they have been using plus additional technology that adds social search influences to search results.

I’ve written about one of these patent applications a couple of weeks ago in Patent Application Discusses Responding to User Queries. Barry started a post at Cre8asite Forums on Edison,’s New Algorithm, and I’ve written more about a newer patent application there – System and method for responding to a user reference query.

I’ve been referring to this latest patent application as “Edison” because two of the listed inventors are from Edison, New Jersey. The earlier patent application only lists one inventor, who is from Princeton, New Jersey. Chances are that if these patent applications are part of this new algorithm, they could play a role in what we see at when we perform a search.

Here are a couple of screenshots from the images in the patent applications. The first is from the older patent application that I wrote about a few weeks ago (which I’ve labeled “Princeton”). The second is from the “Edison” patent application being discussed at Cre8asite Forums.

A User Interface of Another Answer Search Engine from

A User Interface of an Answer Search Engine from

There are a lot of similar ideas in the two patent applications, and the user interfaces presented above aren’t all that different.

There may be additional patent applications from that haven’t been published yet, which may describe completely different approaches than what is covered in these.

I mentioned a third patent application. Its focus is upon detection duplications in images, and it is pretty interesting – Similarity detection and clustering of images

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12 thoughts on “ Announces New Search Algorithm “Edison””

  1. I’m very interested in seeing what direction ASK takes this year. I see this as one of their pivotal moments. They’ve received a ton of press on their UK advertising campaign (lots of it was negative, but free press non the less) and now lots of blogs and people are “rediscovering” ask.

    If they can come get a marketing angle that works and increase the relevancy of their results they may be able to gain market share. Or they might slip even further in which case I’d love to see them go niche. Right now they’re still trying to be everything to all people and compete with google directly by offering essentially the same thing, but with worse relevancy.

  2. Hi Solomon,

    I believe that having some competition amongst the major search engines is good for everyone, and I hope that Ask is able to do well with this effort.

    I do see a lot of good ideas in the latest patent applications, but I’m wondering if they are enough to help the search engine gain some positive ground. I guess we’ll see.

  3. “You already know that it’s a car, and you have a good idea of what’s hidden under the hood, but it can be interesting to pop the latch, and see the moving parts run around some.”

    And sometimes you just want to drive from point A to point B, oblivious to how thinks work, hehe.

    Bill, how many of these patent ideas become reality, as a percentage? Do you have any idea?

  4. Hi Carfeu,

    The advertising in the UK from Ask hasn’t been seen here in the US. The last commercial I’ve seen on television was a very friendly message from Apostolos Gerasoulis.

    Hi Darren,

    I’m not sure that I could even begin to provide a percentage to you. I have seen a good number of patent applications lately that have obviously been rolled out into products from Google or Yahoo or MSN. Others that detail possible algorithms are more difficult to tell with any certainty.

    I wrote about four patent applications today that describe parts of how Google Reader work – which is where your quote comes from. My post last week on how Google handles reviews can be seen in action on Froogle. Likewise a number of recent patent applications that I’ve written about seem to have been implemented with Yahoo’s Podcasting search engine, personalization in Google News, and the verification process in Google’s local business center.

    I also wrote about how Google uses traffic estimations based upon building profiles of web sites last Sunday, and mentioned that the process was a little like the profiling going on in the TV show CSI. This week at SES NY, one of the Google presenters on Click Fraud made a reference to CSI, too (something that Lisa Barone thought was an odd analogy when she wrote about it on the Bruce Clay blog.

    I think that it’s just as interesting to get a sense of the thought processes and assumptions being made in many of these patent applications as it is a sense of the technology that they describe. Regardless of whether the technology becomes reality or not, looking at the motivations and the inspirations behind the technology provides some value and insight into how the search engines work, and what they are pursuing and finding valuable.

  5. It’s war, but is it the right way to battle? is going crazy on its advertisements!

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  7. It’s funny it’s very close to the new profile we’re designing.
    It suppose to come out before the end of the week.
    And we’ve build pages for each database entry.
    Therefore, we have a “club” Lou gehrig that look at lot like the ask one.

    We are all heading the same way …fun.

  8. That is funny. I’m guessing that it’s not so much a matter of heading the same way as it is being responsive to what you think that people want to see.

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