An Update on Search Classes

Daniel Tunkelang
2 min readMar 12, 2024

In 2022, Grant Ingersoll and I launched our first four-week Search with Machine Learning class on Uplimit, then called Corise. I still have a special place in my heart for the over 100 students who braved our debut cohort and were patient with us as we worked through the logistics of teaching an intense course that combined theoretical concepts, practical advice, and a fair amount of hands-on coding.

Over the next couple of years, we split the class into two classes over six weeks, introducing a two-week Search Fundamentals class and adding more material to the machine learning class to satisfy students’ craving for more content about embeddings and neural retrieval. We also added two new classes: Grant created an engineering-focused class with his colleague Dave Anderson, while I created a non-coding class for product managers.

Although consulting has been my day job for the past several years, I have found teaching these classes to be extremely gratifying, especially when I was able to see our hundreds of students apply what they learned in their daily work — and even use their newfound skills to obtain new jobs.

So it is with a heavy heart that I announce that Grant and I are hitting pause on our classes. We have observed that many search professionals and would-be search professionals have shifted their interest away from studying conceptual foundations and towards applying cutting-edge methods like LLMs and RAG. Indeed, our colleague — and former student — Chris Sanchez teaches a popular class on building advanced RAG applications. That makes it hard to assemble a critical mass of students to sign up for classes that, while practical, emphasize conceptual foundations.

That said, I hope that search professionals and would-be search professionals will continue to study those conceptual foundations. I commend the use of the latest and greatest solution methods, but it is critically important to understand the problem space before jumping to solutions. In my experience as a search consultant, I have found that many engineers and product managers fail to do so, especially when they are excited to use state-of-the-art technology.

I recognize that, as someone who has worked in this field for over two decades, I risk becoming the old man complaining about kids these days. The search industry has undergone massive, transformative change in the past few years, and I am excited to have played my small part in that transformation. Still, some things do not change. Conceptual foundations still matter, and understanding problems is a prerequisite for solving them.

Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to explore the variety of great classes on Uplimit (including Chris’s class on building advanced RAG applications!), and I will continue to share my knowledge through my consulting and public writing. I hope that these continue to prove useful. Because, for all that is changing and will continue to change, search is fundamental.