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New Carnegie Mellon Software Tool Automatically Organizes Web Search Results Into Meaningful Groups of Information, Makes It easier to Find What You Want

BY Byron Spice - Thu, 2001-03-08 12:00  Printer-friendly version

PITTSBURGH--Vivisimo, a new software system developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers that quickly and automatically groups Web search results into easily browsed clusters of related information, has been ranked a top tier search engine tool by ZD Net, a key online resource for information about new technology.(www.zdnet.com/searchiq)

Vivisimo, which means very lively and clever in Spanish, was developed by a team of faculty, post-docs and students in Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Department. The technology is based on a specially developed algorithm to group or cluster textual documents. The Vivísimo software queries various search engines, extracts the relevant documents (titles, URLs, and short descriptions), groups them based on this summarized information and finally displays them in hierarchical categories in the style of Windows Explorer.

Last summer, the team spun the technology out of the university and formed Vivisimo, Inc. The new company has received funding from Innovation Works, a Southwestern Pennsylvania development foundation. In addition, the National Science Foundation awarded a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research Grant to the company earlier this year.

" Vivisimo's 'just-in-time' software technology helps to make sense of the many hundreds of citations returned by search engines exploring the Web," explains Carnegie Mellon Senior Research Computer Scientist and Vivisimo co-founder Raul Valdes-Perez. "Just before a user receives a long, tedious list of search results, Vivisimo groups them into a PC-folders-style hierarchy that can be comfortably browsed."

Company officials believe that regardless of progress in other areas of information technology, people will always have more information than they will want to look at. So "just-in-time" grouping serves an important need as a time-saver and tedium-reducer.

Valdes-Perez says Vivisimo's free public Web site-http://www.vivisimo.com--works with several of the major search engines, including Yahoo, Altavista, MSN and Lycos. It also can access government sites such as FirstGov.gov, which compiles information from all federal agencies, PubMed, which reports medical information, and many corporate sites.

"Engineers have tried to improve the ranking of Web search results," says Vivisimo chief scientist and co-founder Jerome Pesenti. "But ranked lists are not God-given representations and they don't give a big picture of what's there. By grouping the results, Vivisimo lets you explore on your own. You don't have to create a long query for fear of being overloaded with information."

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Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 | bspice [atsymbol] cs ~replace-with-a-dot~ cmu ~replace-with-a-dot~ edu