NSF grant helps UT Arlington researchers build better search engines

News Release — 2 November 2010


Media contact: Herb Booth, (817) 272-7075, hbooth@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - Two UT Arlington computer science engineering faculty are developing a new Internet search engine that treats the Web more like a massive database.

Chengkai Li and Gautam Das, both Department of Computer Science and Engineering faculty, have won a three-year, $499,713 National Science Foundation grant to develop a new search engine that uses simple queries to address complex information needs. Their system allows searches involving multiple entities and assesses how entities are related.

“The beauty of this is that you can combine the simplicity of keyword search and the expressiveness of database query to find fascinating entities,” Li said.

With existing search engines, a person looking for information about businesses started by UT Arlington graduates would have to break down their task into several separate searches, read many result pages and manually synthesize the information, Li said.

“Our system would allow us to simply write a database-style query that specifies what to do instead of the grueling details of how to do it,” Li said. “The system automatically processes the query and obtains answers, saving us from the painful steps of searching, reading, and re-searching.”

Das said the search engine would be able to look at entity types such as UT Arlington graduates and startup businesses and relate them to each other.

The goal of the project is to make queries more successful and accessible to common users, Li said.

“You shouldn’t have to be able to know some computer language to perform a comprehensive, but pointed search that yields results you can use,” Li said.

See the project web page at http://idir.uta.edu/erq for a demonstration.

The work by Li and Das is representative of the research under way at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive undergraduate and graduate institution of nearly 33,000 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.


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