Sunday, May 11, 2008

Powerset Natural Language Search

Powerset, a company we only remember seeing as conference sponsors, now actually has something working. After receiving an email from them, I tried out several queries. At best, it seems to answer most Wh-questions and certain whole-part relations.

Try out the same query on Google.

1 comment:

Markus said...

Cool, I just tested it and for certain things it's really good. I tested: "Who votes for Hillary Clinton?" (without the quotes). I got links to sites containing

* "New Square had voted almost unanimously for Hillary Clinton" and
* "Limbaugh announced ... to have voters of the Republican Party temporarily cross over to vote Democrat and vote for Hillary Clinton."

I like how, due to their use of parsing, they were able to match my "voted for" with "voted almost unanimously for".

The same query on Google doesn't give anything that directly answers the question, it's more about votes *by* Hillary (in the Congress etc).

If you search with quotes, the Powerset results remain unchanged, while Google finds the relative clauses, such as "Anyone *who votes for Hillary Clinton* is an idiot".

Other questions, like "Where is JHU located?", or "Where is Johns-Hopkins University?" didn't give good results on Powerset though.

It seems it's strong on questions that contain meaningful verbs, such as "When did Gorbachev step down?" In this case, it recognized the similarity of "step down" to "resigned" and returned lots of answers with "resigned" highlighted, two of the first 10 containing the answer "December 25, 1991". Again, Google's results were less useful here. But it will remain my main search engine, of course, because I need more sources than just Wikipedia and I often have fuzzy queries that work best with just a bag of keywords.