CHAPTER 11

Organizing data

Search is an unsolved problem. We have a good 90 to 95% of the solution, but there is a lot to go in the remaining 10%.

Marissa Mayer, President and CEO of Yahoo!Los Angeles Times interview (2008)

IN this age of “big data,” we take search algorithms for granted. Without web search sites that are able to sift through billions of pages in a fraction of a second, the web would be practically useless. Similarly, large data repositories, such as those maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), would be useless without the ability to search for specific information. Even the operating systems on our personal computers now supply integrated search capabilities to help us ...

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