The brilliant work of a UNSW PhD researcher, which was snapped up by internet search behemoth Google, is now helping millions of people conduct more useful and relevant searches on the web.
Ori Allon, now an employee of Google working at the company's California headquarters, developed the Orion search engine tool as part of his PhD research at the School of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) in 2005.
Google was so impressed that in 2006 it bought the rights to Orion through UNSW's commercialisation arm, NewSouth Innovations, and hired Mr Allon. This week the company announced the implementation of the software in its market-leading search engine.
Orion makes web searching easier by offering related search terms that the user may find useful to enhance their search and by displaying expanded text extracts in results, removing the need to click through to new web pages.
Mr Allon, a senior engineer with Google's search quality team, has described the advantage delivered by the related search terms function as giving "an expert search without having an expert's knowledge".
In an announcement on its official blog, Google said the technology "can better understand associations and concepts related to your search".
CSE's Dr Eric Martin, who supervised Mr Allon's PhD, said it was very rewarding to see Orion integrated into Google's main search page.
"What we see on Google today is pretty much what Ori's prototype displayed and that's great," he said.
"Obviously there has been further development since Ori went to Google but what was most impressive about this work is that he could impress Google with what he developed in just one year."
Mr Allon is due to return to UNSW to have his PhD conferred in April.
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