Back to Courses

Search Engines

There's a lot of data out there, learn how to search it effectively.

The Web has billions of pages containing trillions of words, yet when you type a query into the search box, the program works for just a fraction of a second, and usually picks out just the information you wanted. How is this possible?

In this course you will explore the core ideas behind search engine technology. Some of these ideas predate computers by thousands of years. In addition to learning how search engines are built and queried, you will also create your own simple search index, and learn techniques for making search run faster on that index.



Concepts and

  1. 1

    Big Search

    Search engines are powerful, but the ideas behind them don't need to be mysterious.

    1. Searching the Whole World

      The first step to understanding search engines is understanding the scale of the problem.

    2. Four Thousand Years of Search Engines

      The ideas that drive massive internet search engines are actually pretty ancient.

    3. Crawling the Web

      Before you search the web, a search engine has to figure out what's out there.

  2. 2

    Effective Search

    Puzzle your way towards understanding the hidden power of search engines.

    1. Included with
      Brilliant Premium

      Searching with Sherlock Holmes

      In this chapter, you'll be using a simple search engine that searches Sherlock Holmes stories.

    2. Included with
      Brilliant Premium

      Word Search

      A search engines limited to single-word searches requires you to use your powers of deduction.

    3. Included with
      Brilliant Premium

      Many Words at Once

      Using the AND operator in searchers allows for much more powerful queries.

    4. Included with
      Brilliant Premium

      Exact Phrases

      Exact phrase search is a powerful tool on both Google and our Sherlock searcher.

  3. 3

    Implementing Search

    To understand how big search engines work, there's nothing better than building your own!

    1. Included with
      Brilliant Premium

      Introducing Indexes

      The "one weird trick" of computer science that makes search engines work.

    2. Included with
      Brilliant Premium

      Building an Index

      Start with the smallest of search engines in order to understand the biggest ones.

    3. Included with
      Brilliant Premium

      An Algorithm for Indexing

      The same process can build a search engine with sticky notes or with powerful computers!

    4. Included with
      Brilliant Premium

      Word Search with an Index

      A search index makes it extremely easy to handle single-word search queries. Is it worth the effort?