Academia’s quest for the ultimate search tool (C|Net)

By Stefanie Olsen
Story last modified Mon Aug 15 04:00:00 PDT 2005

The University of California at Berkeley is creating an interdisciplinary center for advanced search technologies and is in talks with search giants including Google to join the project, CNET News.com has learned.

The project is one of many efforts at U.S. universities designed to address the explosive growth of Internet search and the complex issues that have arisen in the field.

U.C. Berkeley, birthplace of early search highflier Inktomi and the school where Google CEO Eric Schmidt got his computer science doctoral degree, is bringing together roughly 20 faculty members from various departments to cross-pollinate work on search technology, said Robert Wilensky, the center’s director. The principal areas of focus: privacy, fraud, multimedia search and personalization.

“We want to solve the problems that have been engendered by the success of search,” Wilensky said in an interview. Wilensky is a professor of computer science and information management at Berkeley.

Plans are still being worked out for the center’s physical space, but Wilensky said he hopes designs will be completed within the next few months and the center opened early next year. He also said he’s talking to Google and other search players about membership.

“If you have 20 researchers interested in search, then getting them together where they are cross-fertilizing ideas, you make something bigger than its parts. You can create a nuclear reaction,” he said.

Google declined to comment. (Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET News.com reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.) (more…)

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