Magazine article Information Today

Powerful New Search Tool Available on Internet

Magazine article Information Today

Powerful New Search Tool Available on Internet

Article excerpt

A powerful new software package designed to locate specific information on the Internet has been placed on the international web of computer networks by a team of U.S. researchers.

The software, named Harvest, enables users connected to the Internet to locate and summarize information stored in many different formats on machines around the world. Michael Schwartz, a computer science professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and team leader for the project, said that users can create new collections of information in the process and then put them back out on the Internet for other users.

In addition to making information access easier on the Internet, the Harvest software is designed to ease the strain on servers, or host computers, as well as overall network traffic, according to University of Southern California assistant professor of computer science Peter Danzig, who collaborated on the project.

"For some people, looking for information on the Internet is like being in a foreign country where the language and culture are constantly changing," Schwartz said. "Harvest can help people find the information they need in a confusing and ever-changing environment."

Harvest, which is being made available on the Internet at no charge, has been tested at 60 sites around the world for the past four months. Other team members include the University of Arizona's Udi Manber, Mic Bowman from Transarc Corp., a Pittsburgh software company, and CU-Boulder researcher Darren Hardy.

One of the Harvest test projects involved building a server for the AT&T 800 numbers directory. The information was collected and organized automatically by Harvest from data posted by AT&T on the Internet. The researchers added a powerful search tool to the server, allowing users to find names even if they were misspelled and locate complete 800 numbers by using only partial numbers as a reference. …

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