Google, a highly popular search engine known for its speed and accuracy, traces its beginnings to 1998, when Stanford University Computer Science graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin undertook a research project. Little did they realize they will eventually devise a unique approach to solving one of the biggest challenges in the computing world – retrieving relevant information from a vast accumulation of data, or what may be more precisely described as a disorganized clutter of database which, nonetheless, can be navigated and scrutinized.
For the founders of the company that embodied the mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible” the spate of recognition has been unabatable. Over time, Page and Brin’s college research project would evolve into a real company offering a service that was in great demand. Google has immensely changed the computer and media landscapes over the past decade. Google today is perceived as a maverick company and “one of the most disruptive forces in the business world ” (Weisman, 2006, p. C5). The impact of Google’s introduction of numerous search products, from Google Maps to Google News to Google Calendar was immense and far-reaching. “The company is doing more than building its consumer base. It's also building an alternative environment for software, advertising, and Internet content that is challenging the business models and eroding the revenue of everyone from publishers to software makers to Internet service providers” .
Brin and Page, in describing the anatomy of a large-scale hypertextual web search engine as part of the Computer Science Department of Stanford University in California, underscored the challenges of creating a search engine which scales even to today’s web: Fast crawling technology is needed to gather the web documents and keep them up to date. Storage space must be used efficiently to store indices and, optionally, the documents themselves. The indexing system must process hundreds of gigabytes of data efficiently. Queries must be handled quickly, at a rate of hundreds to thousands per second.
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These tasks are becoming increasingly difficult as the Web grows. However, hardware performance and cost have improved dramatically to partially offset the difficulty. There are, however, several notable exceptions to this progress such as disk seek time and operating system robustness. Brin and Page also articulated that, aside from offering the best quality search results, Google is designed to scale. They explained: In designing Google, we have considered both the rate of growth of the Web and technological changes. Google is designed to scale well to extremely large data sets. It makes efficient use of storage space to store the index.
Its data structures are optimized for fast and efficient access… In implementing Google, we have seen bottlenecks in CPU, memory access, memory capacity, disk seeks, disk throughput, disk capacity, and network IO. Google has evolved to overcome a number of these bottlenecks during various operations. Google's major data structures make efficient use of available storage space. Furthermore, the crawling, indexing, and sorting operations are efficient enough to be able to build an index of a substantial portion of the web. The Google website cites that at the Googleplex, the company headquarters in Mountain View, California, enhancements were added, including the Google Directory (based on Netscape’s Open Directory Project) and the ability to search via wireless devices. In the ensuing months, partnership deals were sealed. Soon, the wireless search was facilitated. The Google milestones in the company website likewise lists the introduction of AdWords, a self-service ad program that could be activated online with a credit card in a matter of minutes; and the Google Toolbar, an innovative browser plug-in that made it possible to use Google search without visiting the Google homepage.
Other Google highlights mentioned in the company website include the beta launch of Google Catalog Search. It enabled Google users to search and browse more than 1,100 mail order catalogs that used to be available only in print. In February of 2002, the Google Search Appliance, a plug-and-play search solution, was introduced. Google’s web application programming interfaces (APIs) enabled software programs to query Google directly. Google Compute, which was newly added to the Google Toolbarm used idle cycles on users’ computers to help solve computation-intensive scientific problems Version 2.0 of the Google Toolbar and the Google Deskbar were also eventually released. Indeed, Google has been successful in reshaping the worlds of Internet search, advertising and publishing. Today, it continues to soar. It “claims the lion’s share of the $40 billion spent yearly in online advertising, a market slated to double in the next two years. Google’s dominance in the field is based on a combination of strong tech, simple interface and self-sustaining momentum”.
- Brin, S. ; Page, L. (n. d. ) The anatomy of a large-scale hypertextual web search engine. Retrieved February 15, 2008, from http://infolab. stanford. edu/~backrub/google. html
- Google. com. (2007). Google milestones. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from http://www. google. com/corporate/history. html
- Levy, S. (2008, February). Yahooligans at the Window. Newsweek, 15 (6), p. 33.
- Weisman, R. (2006, May 29). Why Google makes everyone else nervous. The Boston Globe, p. C5.
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