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Google Would Beat Bing At Jeopardy, Says Wolfram 138

Posted by timothy
from the but-thanks-for-bing-there-for-us dept.
destinyland writes "Stephen Wolfram, the physicist behind the Wolfram Alpha 'answer engine,' believes that Google would beat Bing in any contest based on questions from Jeopardy. 'Wolfram took a sample of Jeopardy clues and fed them into search engines,' explains one technology blog. 'When it came to the first page, Google got 69 percent correct, just beating Ask with 68 percent and Bing on 63 percent. ... To put that into context, the average human contestant gets 60 percent of answers correct, while champion Ken Jennings has a record of 79 percent.' Interestingly, Wikipedia came in last, scoring 23%, though they may have more to do with how Wikipedia handles searches. In two weeks, IBM's Watson computer will compete on Jeopardy against two of the show's all-time human champions."
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Google Would Beat Bing At Jeopardy, Says Wolfram

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  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @06:05PM (#35051056)

    For the past few weeks I've switched over to Bing as my primary search engine.

    Overall it works OK, but there have been a number of instances where Google has produced some dramatically better search results, as it in found something related to what I was looking for at all, on the first page. I've only gone over to look at Google when it seemed like the Bing results were not what I was expecting, but it has been interesting to find there still is a pretty large quality gap as I was thinking it might have been closed by now.

    • Why did you switch?

      I use Bing at work by accident when I type something into the address bar for IE 6 that triggers a search. That is pretty much it. (We are blocked from changing the search engine otherwise I wouldn't even see it then. Heck, I can't even change the menus in start menu, but that is a whole other complaint.)

      I find Google results a whole lot better for me - but I imagine that is because Google has profiled me and knows how to tailor the results to suite me.

      • Why did you switch?

        That's exactly what I was wondering. If Google is dramatically better, even in some instances, then why switch?

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @07:09PM (#35051522)

        I switched for two reasons:

        1) Because I wanted to see if other search engines could work as well

        2) Primarily, because I differ too greatly with Google at this point philosophically on the killing of the video tag under the guise to move to an open codec, and I wanted to reduce support of Googles revenue stream, even if only a tiny fraction they will never notice - it just makes me feel better.

        Mostly it doesn't matter much, but there are a few times a week at least I have to turn back to Google.

        • by SadButTrue (848439) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @11:23PM (#35053072) Homepage

          I switched for two reasons:

          1) Because I wanted to see if other search engines could work as well

          2) Primarily, because I differ too greatly with Google at this point philosophically on the killing of the video tag under the guise to move to an open codec, and I wanted to reduce support of Googles revenue stream, even if only a tiny fraction they will never notice - it just makes me feel better.

          Mostly it doesn't matter much, but there are a few times a week at least I have to turn back to Google.

          I couldn't agree more. The way google is forcing Apple and Microsoft to not support the open and non patent encumbered WebM makes me sick. It is amazing to me how many sheeple still support evil google over the icon of fair market practices that is Microsoft.

          • But what about http://www.startpage.com/ [startpage.com] ? the have a pretty good privacy policy, that's a sell point over Google's.

          • by DrXym (126579)
            I couldn't agree more. The way google is forcing Apple and Microsoft to not support the open and non patent encumbered WebM makes me sick. It is amazing to me how many sheeple still support evil google over the icon of fair market practices that is Microsoft.

            I very much doubt Google are doing it for altruistic reasons but rather as a way to stick it to Microsoft, Apple and MPEG-LA by dumping an industry standard format for one which they control. Not only will they control one of the largest content sourc

        • Dude, I hope you are a very clever troll.

          microsoft AND apple are trying to kill the video tag with the patent-encumbered h.264. Google is saving it by offering WebM. ALL BROWSERS except for microsoft's explorer and apple's safari support Google's move. You can say whatever you want about Google regarding any other aspect, but in this case, they are doing the right thing.

          • by Jaggo (1045148)

            ... ALL BROWSERS except for microsoft's explorer and apple's safari support Google's move. ...

            lol. You mean, FF, Opera and Chrome support Google's move? ;)

          • microsoft AND apple are trying to kill the video tag with the patent-encumbered h.264. Google is saving it by offering WebM. ALL BROWSERS except for microsoft's explorer and apple's safari support Google's move. You can say whatever you want about Google regarding any other aspect, but in this case, they are doing the right thing.

            Right thing is relative. End users want things like:

            1) Battery live in their mobile devices. Hardware decoding helps quite a bit here.
            2) Ability to watch FLASH video without running FLASH (see #1 above, re: battery life). That most Flash video is streaming h.264, has a lot to do with why so many sites were able to easily flip on a tag for Webkit based browsers on mobile platforms.

            I left out things like codec quality, patent issues, ideology, etc... I just don't care as an end user. No really, we don'

        • by satuon (1822492)

          If you abandon Google search because of how they handle their browser (or Youtube?), then why aren't you abandoning Bing because of Microsoft Windows, IE, or the doc format?

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          I don't know which browser you use but I use Firefox. In the top right corner you have a customisable search box when making use of the pull down you can have more than one search engine immediately accessible.

          The ones I currently use are Google, Google Maps, AOL, ASK, IMDB, Wiktionary, Wikipedia, Creative Commons and Mozilla add-ons . Google might be the default, top of the list but in truth I readily swap between them to get the best search results based upon the topic type in question.

          I can guarante

      • by Nikker (749551)
        How do you know if Google is better if you don't try the other guys? Maybe we should call the Flat Earth Society in on this one?
    • by Elbereth (58257)

      Not in my experience.

      First of all, Google tries to fix my query for me. I HATE that. I know exactly what I want to search for, and I don't want Google second-guessing me. It's gotten so bad that I can't search for anything without putting it in quotes, because Google will return entirely spurious results (e.g., I search for intel drivers, and I get three pages worth of intelligence tests from stupid quiz sites). Bing doesn't do that. If I search for intel, it only returns results for pages that include

      • I agree with a number of points you raise, except for the fixing - I find the fixing correcting misspellings far more often than it's searching for something I didn't want, and it's easy enough to click on the correction links.

        But for the points you bring up I do agree with - spammy results - I don't think Bing fares any better. Do you use it as your primary search? I don't think it really matters that Bing is new as they all use similar algorithms to build search results, and Bing is getting the same ann

        • The problem with correction is that it's not even borderline intelligent. I've been doing something of a personal project creating artist description stubs for obscure demosceners on last.fm, so I've been running into this a lot lately. I'll type in an artist name like 'Cyanid' which Google thinks I must mean 'Cyanide' except that's not the whole search string, which will be like 'Cyanid "person's name"' and Google will search for 'Cyanide "person's name"' and display 0 results. But when I tell it, no, I
      • by MoeDrippins (769977) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @07:44PM (#35051828)

        > e.g., I search for intel drivers, and I get three pages worth of intelligence tests from stupid quiz sites)

        I'm going to have to call shenanigans on at least one point; I just did a search for "intel drivers" (no quotes), and the entire first page was ... Intel Drivers related.

        Here's a screenshot: http://img508.imageshack.us/img508/1377/20110130184253.png [imageshack.us]

      • "I search for intel drivers, and I get three pages worth of intelligence tests from stupid quiz sites"

        O RLY? [google.com]

      • How much is the salary for a Microsoft shill?

        Your points make no sense and actually don't stand up at all to any testing. As has been stated, basic search for "intel drivers", sans the quotes, gives... intel drivers. It all stinks of a shill post as you're somehow claiming MS has never violated people's privacy, maybe use a better search engine and you'll find examples of them doing so.

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @08:59PM (#35052280)

      I differ too greatly with Google at this point philosophically on the killing of the video tag under the guise to move to an open codec,

      I often vote with my wallet, too. I was a NY Giants fan until I witnessed a parking attendant hit a squirrel with his truck. I was appalled by such animal cruelty, and have since switched my allegiance to the Philadelphia Eagles.

      • by Leebert (1694) *

        This analogy will be completely lost on the audience here.

        (Hint to the American football ignorant: Michael Vick)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by delvsional (745684)

        I often vote with my wallet, too. I was a NY Giants fan until I witnessed a parking attendant hit a squirrel with his truck. I was appalled by such animal cruelty, and have since switched my allegiance to the Philadelphia Eagles.

        This is slashdot god dammit. I don't give a rats ass about baseball.

      • by Phoghat (1288088)
        What's going too happen when a Philly parking attendant shoots down an Eagle?
    • I am only using Bing on my Android phone right now, by choice. My mobile phone based searches are different from my home-based searches. I often need to find a restaurant. With Bing and my GPS active, I could simply type in a restaurant by name, and Bing would accurately return the restaurant I was looking for with a dial option as well as listings of several other restaurants in the area. Bing's video searches seems better than what Google provides, and the new way Google Images is presented really is a dr
    • by Cylix (55374) *

      If Wolfram and Heart are backing Google then my money is on those guys.

      The do no evil slogan has been clearly thrown out the window at this point.

    • by Gulthek (12570)

      If you're looking for a new search engine I've found myself supremely happy with DuckDuckGo (http://duckduckgo.com/). Great results, snappy interface, !bang searches: it's great. The !bang syntax was what really hooked me. I used to spend a lot of time making custom site searches for my browser ("wa query" to search Wolfram|Alpha, etc.). With DDG that's all inherent: "!wa query" sends query straight to W|A.

  • I wonder if Google and Ask utilize some form of question parsing in their searches. After all, a name like "Ask.com" simply begs for users to type their searches in the form of a question, and I wouldn't be surprised if many Google searches are typed that way too.
    • by mobets (101759)

      That is what Ask.com was designed and optimized for. That was supposed to be their competitive advantage.

      • That is what Ask.com was designed and optimized for. That was supposed to be their competitive advantage.

        I still kinda miss Jeeves, myself.

  • Standard Deviation? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kensai7 (1005287) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @06:08PM (#35051078)

    Aren't these percentages too close to be meaningful? Of course it depends on the sample, but I think unless we get an all-winning AI it's interesting but nothing really special.

    • Aren't these percentages too close to be meaningful? Of course it depends on the sample, but I think unless we get an all-winning AI it's interesting but nothing really special.

      That was my thought as well - 68 vs 63% - basically a draw.

    • by Phoghat (1288088)
      In February, Jennings and another champion play against the Watson computer. We'll see who wins and how fast it does it. I don't know if Watson is internet connected or not.
      • by technomom (444378)
        Watson is not connected to the internet. Remember that Watson has to come up with its responses in 5 seconds so it cannot rely on the internet for responsiveness.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @06:08PM (#35051080)

    Wikipedia would KICK *SS in the "Anime" category!

    • Ooh, a troll mod - I didn't realize Jimmy Wales had time to hang out on Slashdot!

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There's really no reason to censor as benign a word as "ass". If somebody here can't take that, they shouldn't be on the internet in the first place.

  • So how does Wolfram's own creation Wolfram Alpha do in comparison against the other search giants?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I can only assume you've never used Wolfram Alpha, if you had you'd know it would score somewhere in the area of 0%

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Alpha is not a search engine.
    • Re:Let's do a test. (Score:4, Informative)

      by nathan.fulton (1160807) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @06:41PM (#35051342) Journal
      This post is now the top result on Bing. Win.

      Aside: Thees type of tests -- where you ask questions specific ways and gauge results -- are really useful if you'd like to do some experimentation with different search engines and avoid "bias." When I first tried Bing, I was astounded at how terrible it was. But my search results improved significantly when I stopped using "Google idioms," phrases that I know from past trial/error are very likely to get me a certain type of result from Google.

      Switching search engines for a week is an interesting introspective exercise.
      • Except .. lets be honest. Bing is probably self-preferential in any search result whereas I don't think Google probably cares since they're already #1.

        The guy in second place is always the loudest advocate of why they should 'really' be in first place and the current state of things (reality) is just a misunderstanding.

      • by Jaktar (975138)

        Yeah, Bing just won that one.

        It really is too bad you can't just use both engines at the same time.
        http://www.bing-vs-google.com/?q=slashdot [bing-vs-google.com]

      • (...) my search results improved significantly when I stopped using "Google idioms," phrases that I know from past trial/error are very likely to get me a certain type of result from Google.

        Can you elaborate? I really don't know what sort of idioms you mean. The only ones I use are the likes of "site:stackoverflow.com".

    • by Stray7Xi (698337)

      http://www.bing.com/search?q=stephen+wolfram+is+famous+for+this+self+aggrandizing+book

      Your post is now the #1 result on bing for that search. Too bad Bing doesn't have an "I'm feeling lucky" you could have linked to a search that would have taken you directly back to your post.

    • by tal_mud (303383)
      http://www.google.com/search?q=stephen+wolfram+is+famous+for+this+self+aggrandizing+book [google.com]
      http://www.bing.com/search?q=stephen+wolfram+is+famous+for+this+self+aggrandizing+book [bing.com]

      The actual results for this parents search are especially hillarious. Google comes up with a link to the book, Bing comes up with: "Google Would Beat Bing At Jeopardy, Says Wolfram"
    • by technomom (444378)
      Not returned in the form of a question. Watson 1, Google 0, Bing 0.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2011 @06:17PM (#35051154)

    Unless you've got the exact title, you pretty much need to google site:en.wikipedia.org in order to find what you're after. Google and Wikipedia together work great.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      To save typing, "inurl:wikipedia [search terms]" or even "wiki [search terms]" works just as well.

      You can also create [mozilla.org] your own custom search plug-in - pretty simple actually, just an XML file.

      • by satuon (1822492)

        When I want to find a Wikipedia article, I just type some part of the subject in Google. If it doesn't show on first page (this usually happens only if it is commercial-related, because then the first page is a bunch of SEO-optimized sites), I add 'wiki' at the end and voilà!

    • This. Sort of. I find just adding "wiki" tends to give the same results. You occasionally get a wiki other than wikipedia, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. E.g. "wiki Bad Wolf [google.com]" gives results at wikipedia, but also at tardis.wikia.com [wikia.com].
    • It's amazing how often Google Suggest has "X wiki" in the list. Typing in "jon stewart", "jon stewart wiki" is the 7th suggestion for me.
  • ...did any of them actually answer in the form of a question?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how many percent of the correct Google answers were wikipedia articles.

  • The comment about Wikipedia seems out of left field. Wikipedia is a site, not a search engine. Presumably, all the search engines regularly return results from Wikipedia as well as many other sources.

    • by joh (27088)

      Nevertheless Wikipedia search totally sucks. It's even case sensitive, so searching for an article with the wrong case yields no hits and when you then search for article content you hit it right away and get redirected to the article with the title you were searching for in the first place. This is really idiotic.

      • Agreed, I'm not the best speller in the world, and Wikipedia won't give me anything remotely close to what I'm looking for, even if I'm a letter off. I find myself seaching Wikipedia via Google more often (site:wikipedia.org) because the search results are just plain better.
    • What got me was the quote, "Interestingly, Wikipedia came in last, scoring 23%, though they may have more to do with how Wikipedia handles searches". As if the score of Bing and Google doesn't have anything to do with how they handle searches.
    • The comment about Wikipedia seems out of left field. Wikipedia is a site, not a search engine.

      Wikipedia has site-specific search built in. You can certainly compare how often you get a result of any particular quality you are looking for from Wikipedia's search as from Google's main search engine. Obviously, the universe over which Google's search engine operates includes Wikipedia, but this kind of comparison isn't a comparison of the universe over which the engine searches but the combination of that universe with the utility of the algorithms in identifying relevant answers to particular kinds of

  • A lot of my searches on Bing (at least math related ones) turn up Wolfram Alpha featured results at the top. What does this say about your own search engine, Mr. Wolfram?
  • by Seumas (6865) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @06:34PM (#35051300)

    Which would win at Wheel of Fortune?

    • It would suck to play against a computer on Wheel of Fortune. For one, they'd never hit the Bankrupt spot on the wheel since they could precisely calibrate their spins, and second, they'd solve the puzzles that no one else could possibly figure out. I can see it now:

      <standard four bell sound that signifies the start of the round>
      Pat Sajak: The category is "Before and After". Robot, start us off.
      Robot: <spins wheel and lands exactly where it wants>
      Pat: $2000 for each letter.
      Robot: I will take a T

      • There's no $2000 space (only $2500) and the person who starts each round rotates as the game progresses. Also, I'm remembering the sound as having 3 tones instead of four, but maybe I'm wrong there. Forgive the nitpicks though; your comment was hilarious :).
        • by treeves (963993)

          You remembered wrong. I believe it is C (up to) F (up to) Bflat (down to) G (or equivalent in another key).
          I'm embarrassed to admit I've watched that show, but only because it comes on right after Jeopardy!

          • Yes, you're right, it's definitely 4 chimes. I played around on the piano for a minute and the closest I could come was C, D, B, G (perhaps transposed). If it weren't for Jeopardy! afterward I probably wouldn't watch it either :).
            • by treeves (963993)

              OK, I had to find out, so I found a clip from 1995 on YouTube (that's the latest a quick search turned up) and the chime sound occurs at 2:02 [youtube.com] in, and it's definitely C Eflat (not F!) Bflat G, so we were both wrong, but in the ballpark!
                Assuming it hasn't changed since 1995...

              • Hah! I agree, C, E flat, B flat, G. It's strange that we both got the E flat wrong. I was remembering it more or less in major instead of minor.
    • by monkyyy (1901940)

      wolfram, it can do single words with blanks, for cro__wo_ds

      • It always annoyed me that they didn't add in multiple word processing and the ability to say which letters have been guessed. Really, what kind of programmer just stops at a single word hangman solver? I'd feel terrible coding that.
  • by rossdee (243626) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @06:43PM (#35051360)

    I thought Wolfram was called Tungsten in America?

  • It's not really very interesting whether the facts needed to give an answer are contained in the first page of Google or Bing search results. The difficulty is in understanding what the clue is actually asking, and answering in a way that isolates the relevant information (in the form of a question, of course). And doing so very quickly, even when there is often clever use of language going on. The difference between an "average human" at 60% and Ken Jennings at 79% is huge! And it's not just about how
    • Agreed. That's why I'm looking forward to Watson's performance on Jeopardy. I saw a little clip on Wired I believe and was really quite impressed.
  • ..."We sampled randomly from the 200,000 or so Jeopardy clues that have been aired." let me guess the search text included site:j-archive.com how about you do the test without aired questions :)
  • Comparing the stats of search engines on every question to humans who only try to answer questions of their choosing, is misleading. Ken Jennings 79% success was on a self-selected subset of questions he thought he could answer correctly.
  • by gQuigs (913879) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @07:50PM (#35051860) Homepage

    I'm using Duck Duck Go [duckduckgo.com] more and more. I wonder how it would fare in this comparison... especially because I find it the best way to search Wikipedia.

    It also happens to be great for privacy and a lack of a tracking [slashdot.org].

    • by thijsh (910751)
      I can second this recommendation, Duck Duck Go saves me a lot of trouble when searching and is exactly what once made Google great... basic.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What is Bing?

    • by treeves (963993)

      A singer (Crosby). Also a variety of cherry (not as good as Rainier but pretty good).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Having the correct answer show up in the first document is hardly Watson-like. It still requires a person to plow through the document and find an answer and then determine if it's right or wrong.

    Of course none of these search engines nor Wolfram could play Jeopardy. It's one thing to try to come up with the exact specific answer that Jeopardy demands. You also have to have a good sense of when you know the correct answer and when you don't so you know when to try to buzz in. If you buzz in on every questi

    • by technomom (444378)
      Moreover, it can answer in real time. Most people don't have a grasp for how big a deal this is they are asked to do the following exercise: Sit down in front of a tv with a laptop connected to Bing or Google and watch Jeopardy. See if you can find the answer on these search engine to each question in the 5 seconds required using just the browser. Remember: If you're answering on your own, or making any leaps in logic from what the Search engine returns, your giving Google or Bing the benefit of you
  • I remember installing windows on computers when Bing was somewhat new . I tried finding security essentials with it a few times, and always had to switch to Google because it usually was never in the first few pages of results. You'd figure an MS branded search would be able to find MS Products.....could never find Word, Excel or Powerpoint viewer either.... maybe it was just the free products, since "Buy Office" always came up first.

  • The difference between the IBM system and Google or Bing is that Watson can return the answer in question form in part because it can parse out the question in the first place, including puns and other wordplay. Google and Bing both suck at that. Try using Bing with this actual Jeopardy question on for size: "It figures that the writer of 'The Last of the Mohicans' died in this town" You have to at least drill into one of the answers returned to get to the actual answer (one of the results returned i

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