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Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Powerset Search Tool Could Challenge Google

Powerset on Sunday unveiled tools for searching Wikipedia that use conversational phrasing instead of keywords, marking the first step of its challenge to established Web search services such as Google.

Powerset, which can be found at, looks beyond words to try to understand conceptual relationships that get closer to what a user may be searching for. It analyzes each sentence and whole documents to do so.

Powerset's technology breaks down the meaning of words and sentences into related concepts, freeing users from always needing to type the exact words they want to find.

The Silicon Valley start-up is offering a way of searching millions of entries in Wikipedia's online encyclopedia, helping users find detailed answers to questions rather than isolated links that require further research.

"Instead of being limited to keywords, Powerset allows users to enter keywords, phrases, or questions", wrote Powerset at its blog. "Instead of just showing a list of blue links, Powerset gives you more accurate search results, often answering questions directly, and aggregates information from across multiple articles."

Powerset is looking to leapfrog the current generation of services that rely on keyword searches such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and

While the new search tool is still a far cry from letting users search the World Wide Web, Powerset is using Wikipedia as a trial showcase for how its technology can be used to search a vast number of other websites using natural language phrases or questions.

Powerset plans eventually to make money selling advertising alongside its search services.

Although it is likely to take years for Powerset to be able to search the Web on the scale Google now does using statistical ranking techniques, the tool might become an actual "Google-killer" if a company like Microsoft incorporated it into their search technologies. But this would require Microsoft to move towards the aqcuisition of Powerset.Recently, Microsoft backed off a $44 billion bid for Yahoo to create a formidable rival to Google in Web search and online advertising.

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