A Starter on Google Maths

It was back in 1998 that Brin and Page, two young PhD students studying at the computer department in Stanford created the world’s first algorithm for ranking web pages.  The method has since become known as PageRank and was the start of a hugely successful company you might have heard of called Google.  Their company became an almost overnight success, the students took a leave of absence from Stanford whilst they turned themselves into Billionaires.

So what is PageRank and what does it mean.  The fundamental idea is that every link pointing to a web site is a recommendation as to it’s value.  Basically the more links the more valuable the resource and the more likely to provide information to help the searcher.  Up to this point all the search engines had tried to rank web sites based on what was on  the page.

The problem with this method is that it was very easy to manipulate and often ranked poor quality pages which slotted into the algorithm well.  Using external sources and recommendations was truly a major improvement in the quality of web sites that were selected to appear in Google’s results.

The algorithm behind PageRank is a mathematically elegant and spohisticated solution to a specific problem. In a perfect world these links are votes from the global internet community, only pages that justify these links would have the quality to appear in the search results.

There is an important assumption with this algorithm and one that forms the basic of many of the articles on this Technical site – http://www.changeipaddress.net/british-ip-address/ – that is the random surfer.  It’s one of the assumptions behind PageRank – a person randomly arriving at a web page and clicking on that link is voting in some respects for that site.  The algorithm was quite simplistic then but is developing rapidly.  Now the amount of time a user spend on a site is important, also the less presses of the ’back button’ the better.

Basically the more engaging, useful and interesting a site is the more sueful the site is deemed to be.  Google continues to dominate the ’Search market’ using this technology.

James Bellings

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