Search engines are at the heart of the digital world. We interact with them on the outside, using search engines to find information, products, and more. But they do even more unseen work behind the firewall, processing event logs, serving as schemaless databases, etc.
So it often surprises me how little attention search gets compared to adjacent disciplines like recommender systems and machine learning generally. People who haven’t worked on search often underestimate its depth as a subject, and people who work in adjacent disciplines often oversimplify it, e.g., treating search as a recommender system with the query as a one of many features.
I recognize that not everyone shares my passion for search. But I suspect that many folks would be more excited about search if they understood it better, and millions would benefit from that understanding. That’s why Grant Ingersoll and I have been dedicating ourselves to teaching not only a course on “Search with Machine Learning” but also one on “Search Fundamentals”. Both of us have done our share of helping companies improve their search applications, as well as writing about it; but we know that teaching is the best way to ensure that folks learn what we know, apply it, and improve on it.
We also bring a perspective that is heavily seasoned by practical experience. Much of what we teach reflects that perspective:
- Ranking and relevance are related but distinct concepts.
- Query understanding and content understanding are just as important, if not more so, than ranking.
- Search combines information retrieval with information science — the latter of which used to be called library science.
- Neural retrieval is exciting, but it’s not the only way to apply AI to search applications. Indeed, it might better to start with query understanding.
Whether you work in search already or are just thinking about it, I hope I’ve at least inspired your curiosity. If you’re curious enough to spend a few weeks in one of our intensive, hands-on classes, Grant and I would love to have you.
Our next 2-week “Search Fundamentals” class starts on June 6th, and our next 4-week “Search with Machine Learning” class starts on June 20th. And you can get a discount on registration with the code DG10SEARCH.
Even if you can’t attend one of those classes, I hope you’ll take a bit of time to learn more about search. It’s amazing subject, fundamental to the present and future of our digital age. I hope that’s enough to tempt you!