Microsoft Focuses on User Behavior with New Search Research

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 08-07-2006

Search is about more than search-engine algorithms. It also must take into account user click-through and browsing behaviors, if search-result accuracy is to be improved.

That's according to Microsoft researchers, who are set to present details regarding some of the analysis techniques that Microsoft Research is developing to help improve search-result quality. The Microsoft researchers are set to present three papers on this topic at the ACM Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval, or SIGIR, conference Aug. 6-11 in Seattle.

By accurately modeling and interpreting user's search behavior, search engines also can better detect click-spam and deliver more accurate and personalized results, according to the Microsoft researchers.

"It's not just about a little rectangle on a screen," said Susan Dumais, a principal researcher with the Microsoft Research Adaptive Systems & Interaction Group. Dumais, a nine-year Microsoft veteran, is one of the authors of the three aforementioned SIGIR papers. "The algorithm is one part of search, but search is also about the user. And it's not just about Web search—it's also about searching inside a company and on a PC."

Microsoft Research's search work is not purely theoretical. Microsoft announced in January 2006 the formation of LiveLabs, a joint partnership between Microsoft Research and MSN designed to bring search research to commercialization more quickly. (In its latest reorganization, Microsoft announced on August 2 that it was moving LiveLabs to report directly to Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie.)

Microsoft Research's search researchers also have been working with the Windows Live Search and Windows Desktop Search teams, Dumais said. Researchers have been investigating for the past few years how a capability like implicit query—or the embedding of relevant search results directly into applications so that users don't need to pull up a browser and launch a separate query$#151;could fit into Microsoft products such as Outlook.

Read the full story on Microsoft Watch: Microsoft Focuses on User Behavior with New Search Research