Thursday, February 03, 2005

What is Google ?

Google is a popular Web search engine that says it offers search access to over three million Web documents in over 30 languages. Almost half of Google's over 150 million searches a day are said to originate from U.S. locations; the rest come from places as far-flung as Antarctica and Ghana. During its peak traffic hours between six a.m. and noon PST, Google processes over 2,000 user searches per second. The central component of Google searching is its trademarked PageRank technology that rates Web pages for usefulness and lists result links accordingly. This works a bit like a Web page popularity contest: the more frequently a page turns up in response to a search query, the more highly it will be ranked and, consequently, the more prominently it will be placed in future search results.

Google's roots go back to 1995 when two graduate students, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, met at Stanford University. In 1996, Brin and Page collaborated on a research project that was to eventually become the Google search engine. BackRub, as it was called then (because of its analysis of back links), stirred up interest in the university research community, but didn't garner any offers from the major portal vendors. Those were early days in terms of mass searching of the Internet; one of the CEOs who turned them away said that users don't really care about search abilities. Undaunted, the founders scrounged up enough funding to get started, and in September of 1998 began operations from a garage-based office in Menlo Park, California. In December of that same year, PC Magazine listed Google as one of its Top 100 Web Sites and Search Engines for 1998.

The site's name is word-play inspired by googol, the term that describes the very large number of 10 to the 100th power (which works out to 1 followed by 100 zeroes), which apparently suggested the large number of Web pages that the search engine has indexed. Although as yet somewhat short of a googol, Google's capabilities are nevertheless impressive. According to an earlier estimate (when they could search 2 billion Web pages), Google says that the pages searched would create a 110-mile high pile of paper if they were printed out. Google's headquarters, now in Palo Alto, are known as the Googleplex and its over 270 employees as Googlers. Among the other terms inspired by the euphonious name are Googling (Google-specific egosurfing) and Googlewhacking (a sport in which the user attempts to elicit a single result from a search). Google offers user interfaces for a wide variety of languages, including not only Bengali, Malay, Malayalam, Indonesian, Welsh, Latin, Hungarian, Nepali, and Telugu, but also Elmer Fudd, Bork Bork Bork, Klingon, Hacker, and Pig Latin.

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