The Kabbalah of Google’s New Hummingbird Algorithm


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By Yonatan Gordon

No, its not a new version of Google Glass for Hummingbirds (although Pentagon researchers did make a robotic hummingbird).  Instead, Google is changing the way we discover things through search (again) by pairing strings of words into concepts. While they aren’t going into too many specifics (you can see the Forbes article), this is the basic idea. We don’t think in words, and neither should our algorithms.

So if you’re interested in this topic, and searched “Google Pentagon Hummingbird,” you’re going to see links to both “Google Pentagon” and “Google Hummingbird” related content. But there’s a greater thing happening here, something that is rapidly shaping the way we view information, or sift through big data, or sort through questions and answers on Quora. What’s that? That the more questions, words, concepts, topics, or ideas that you categorize (Google’s Knowledge Graph is now up to 570 million!), the more you need to figure out the interaction between them.

But the truth is, this topic is not something new. The best thing I could offer you today, is to refer you back again to the Rabbi Ginsburgh’s seminar at UC Berkeley in 2005, where he lays the foundation for creating a computer programming language according to the Hebrew letters.

According to Hebrew grammar, Hebrew words can be reduced to a two-letter roots; then from there into an array of ten concepts called a partzuf in Kabbalah.

Probably the clearest article from the site that explains this idea in practice, is the article about Quora called “The Question Behind the Quora Brand Concept.” There I give some examples how every question, has ten main categories of answers; which in turn connect to other sets of questions and answers.

If you are still interested, “BlackBerry, BlackBerry Everywhere.” is also a good article to read.

Ultimately, the best thing would be to develop that 2005 seminar into an actual programming language. Because of the open source and open API nature of computing today, implementing this even on a small scale to start, seems very doable.

If anyone is interested in taking these ideas further, please contact me. Again, although the class was given eight years ago now, it seems clear that this is the direction that many leading companies (not just Google) are now headed.


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