Where Google (and others) Still Fail

A couple of years ago I was looking for information on the AND circuit. Trying to find information on the AND circuit in Google is quite challenging,

Type “AND circuit” sans quotes into Google’s query box and you will get a message telling you that the “AND” operator is unnecessary. In this particular case, it’s very necessary and it’s not an operator.

Try adding some quotes and a natural phrase, let’s try “invented the AND circuit“. The result? The one result? The forum post I linked to in the first paragraph. That post is about two years old.

This is a perfect example of where current algos fall short. Yes I know it’s one example, and what I’m searching for includes a word that Google determines is an operator. But what about word dependencies? Word order? Why can’t Google’s algo determine that if “invented, the, AND and circuit” appear in that order, that what is wanted is information about AND circuits?

Let’s try another search. “tesla AND circuit”. Even worse. No results returned, and it’s hard to imagine that “tesla, AND and circuit” don’t appear in any indexed documents.

So with all the talk about determining meaning from context, it’s pretty apparent that those much vaunted algos aren’t as sophisticated as some would have you believe.

Hakia’s semantic search fails as well. At least Ask gives me a dictionary definition.


  1. You may wish to know that the world’s information is too much for Google or any search engine to retrieve easily. A lot of research must be done to achieve that.

  2. DG

    Clement, I realize a lot of research goes into information retrieval, and Google et al have done quite a bit of research, which is why it surprises me to find that no engines seem to be able to do much with word order to discern context if articles of speech are involved.

  3. Have you tried your searched using the + operator before AND?

    According to google advanced search help:

    “If a common word is essential to getting the results you want, you can include it by putting a “+” sign in front of it. (Be sure to include a space before the “+” sign.)”

  4. DG

    Heya Avantgeek,

    In this case, it doesn’t work, just returns lots of docs with ‘and’ in them but not AND circuit info. Similar to putting quotes around the query.

  5. DG, It just proves that there is need for even much more research/innovation to improve information retrieval.Somehow, I think that it is a feat that is very difficult to achieve. More intelligent and innovative minds have to join the information retrieval research.

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