Vivisimo, which means very lively and clever in Spanish, was developed by a team of faculty, post-docs and students in Carnegie Mellons Computer Science Department. The technology is based on a specially developed algorithm to group or cluster textual documents. The software calls other search engineslike Yahoo! and MSNextracts the relevant information (titles, URLs, and short descriptions), and groups it based on this summarized information. The output is a clear and hierarchical folder structure, allowing users to avoid link overload and to click only on the specific category of information that they need.
Last summer, the team spun the technology out of the university and formed Vivisimo, Inc. The company has received funding from Innovation Works, a Southwestern Pennsylvania development foundation, and earlier this year, the National Science Foundation awarded a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research Grant to the company. Its most recent customer is Aurigin Systems, a California vendor of patent information and navigation tools.
Vivisimos clustering 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, so that results that would otherwise be buried in the list come into easy view.
Better than Google? Vivisimo has hatched an incredible new search engine and sorting tool, stated YIL in its July Webuser column.
Vivisimo 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 grouping serves an important need as a time-saver and tedium-reducer.
As YIL states, In the end, Vivisimos greatest feature is its uncanny ability to track down what youre looking for.
Valdes-Perez says Vivisimos free public Web site http://www.vivisimo.comworks 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, news and university sites, such as Microsoft, CNN and Harvard. All these are seen at http://vivisimo.com/demos/.
Vivisimo has been earning its share of kudos among Internet experts. Earlier this year, ZD Net, a key online resource for information about new technology, said that Vivisimo was in the top tier of search tools that they had reviewed. (www.zdnet.com/searchiq)
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 dont give a big picture of whats there. By grouping the results, Vivisimo lets you explore on your own. You dont have to create a long query for fear of being overloaded with information.