Sunday, April 03, 2016

Synonyms for the Term Search Engine

The term Search Engine is a simile which can mislead us. It makes us think that there's a machine that makes answers. Actually the computer does not search answers - it searches matches between the words we typed and the words in its index, which had been prepared in advance. If there is a match the match becomes the answer.

Search and Find are opposites, but the term Search Engine has no antonym, no opposite.

The unity of the opposites Search and Find is information. Sometimes we type the information (words) "Prime Minister of Israel" and we get the result: "Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel". The same words (Prime Minister of Israel) appear in the question and in the answer. When Prophet Isaiah said: "for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (11:9) he prophesized about the unity of the opposites, since the sea is made of water which is both the content of the sea and its coverage.

The academic Synonym for Search Engine is Information retrieval (IR). The term Information retrieval is not a simile. It seems more accurate and down to earth, but its premise is that the information is there and we only have to find it. And what if there's no answer to our question? Search may end up with no result, but for Retrieval there must be some result, since no result means that this piece of Information can not be retrieved.

Searchers can get answers from browsing. Researchers noticed already at the first years of the WWW the need to differniate searching from browsing since "Web search aids are variously referred to as catalogs, directories, indexes, search engines, or Web databases... [but] a search engine should at least allow users to compose their own search queries rather than simply follow pre-specified search paths or hierarchy as in the case of... Yahoo Directory" [1]

There are many synonyms for the term search. A group of  such synonyms includes chase pursuit hunt and fishing. These are similes directing our attention to the work and hassle frustration enthusiasm and satisfaction involved in finding needed information. Frustration and satisfaction are very important tests for the relevancy of the results of a Search Engine.

The word question is actually a synonym for the term search. Interestingly the word question comes from the word quest which was used in the romanic period  to denote adventures of knights such as the search for the Holy Grail.

Synonyms for question are ask and seek.  Some synonyms for question and answer appear densly in  Matthew/7-7: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you".

a research involves searching again and again, more and more, entering a query and refining it. It is a long adventure which ends after all the questions were answered, all possible places were checked, and there are no stones unturned.

Gesenius suggests that Chapes, the Hebrew word for search, is similar perhaps to Chafar, digged. synonyms for Chapes, the Hebrew word for search, are Charash (ploughed) and Tar (looked for) from which stems Tayar which maybe influenced the English word Tourist. 

[1]  Chu, Heting, and Marilyn Rosenthal. "Search engines for the World Wide Web: A comparative study and evaluation methodology." PROCEEDINGS OF THE ANNUAL MEETING-AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE. Vol. 33. 1996. 

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