Nigerian Computer Student Seeks to Improve Google’s Search Results
A Nigerian MSc in computing student based in the UK has found a new way to improve the performance of Google’s search results. By the way, Google just launched real-time search after a deal with Twitter.
Using the spare cycles of the computers at the Robert Gordon University’s School of Computing, Maryam Kontagora from Abuja, Nigeria, ran a myriad of concurrent MapReduce jobs to simulate hundreds of users searching and sorting on Google at the same time, ultimately improving the results of these searches.
What is MapReduce?
Introduced by Google in 2004, MapReduce is a programming environment to allow hundreds of computers to work together on gaining results for complicated searches. Thousands of MapReduce jobs are executed on Google’s clusters every day, meaning that lots of the searches we run everyday will be executed by using a MapReduce tool.
When MapReduce was first introduced, it was used to completely regenerate Google’s index of the World Wide Web, and replaced the old ad hoc programs that updated the index and ran the various analyses, according to Wikipedia, the world’s largest free online encyclopedia.
Kontagora’s work describes how to improve benchmarks of the search engine’s MapReduce environment on multiple virtual machines. Interestingly, Kontagora has just been informed that an article based on the findings she has put together for her Masters dissertation has been accepted at a top international conference.
The IEEE International Conference on Complex, Intelligent and Software Intensive Systems (CISIS), to be held at Krakow, in February 2010 will give Maryam Kontagora a forum in which to showcase her findings. According to the international reviewers for the CISIS conference, her article ‘is certainly interesting for the audience and a very good and solid work’.
Maryam explained: “My ultimate career goal is to help advance knowledge in the field of parallel computing and how it may be used to improve the performance of large tasks, like searches that would normally take a long time to execute.”
Dr Horacio Gonzalez-Velez, a lecturer with the School of Computing who is Maryam’s academic supervisor for her dissertation, said: “Maryam has always demonstrated an outstanding ability for computing. She is a very clever young woman with an ability to identify useful connections among concepts that other people miss. Her work is definitely a step in the right direction and will hopefully help us to gain further insights into the performance of parallel computers.”
Professor Ian Allison, Head of the School of Computing added: “This project is an excellent example of how our applied research shapes our teaching. Students get to work with leading edge technologies and ideas. I’m delighted that Maryam will have a chance to discuss her work to an international audience.”
If Maryam’s work is approved, it could be a great contribution to Google’s search result quality. Besides, it will boost Nigeria’s image in the international community. My hope is that someone else won’t be recognized or credited for Maryam’s work in the future. That’ll be a shame!
My guess is that, if her research project falls through, it will greatly inspire other young African computer scientists studying around the world to carry out applied research that could advance knowledge in any field, most especially in web search technology.
This research project could also earn Maryam a Gordon Bell Prize from the IEEE. Interestingly, Phillip Emeagwali won the 1989 prize for his use of the Connection Machine supercomputer. Hopefully, Maryam Kontagora could join the league of the world’s greatest scientists.
Source: Robert Gordon University News
Image Source: Facebook
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