Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Search Engines gone wild!

I was curious if my monograph Bounded Queries in Recursion Theory was still available so I went to amazon.com and typed in `William Gasarch'. It had 40 hits. (Move over Stephen King!) I have only written one book, so how is this possible. Here are some of the hits.
  1. Bounded Queries in Recursion Theory by Gasarch and Martin. This hit makes sense.
  2. Handbook of Discrete and Combinatorial Mathematics edited by I have a 4-page chapter on computability. Does this hit make sense? If I say NO then I have to say say how long a book chapter has to be before it makes sense to have a hit. So I'll say YES.
  3. The Complexity Theory Companion by Hemaspaandra and Ogiwara. I was acknowledged in the acknowledgments. Is this hit deserved? NO! (I got quite a few more of these types of hits, some for proceedings where one article acknolwedged me.)
  4. An Introduction to Quantum Computing by Pittenger. This book is in the same series as my Bounded Queries books, so the back of the book has a list of all the books in this series. Hence I got a hit. This is nuts!

amazon needs to fix its search engines to be LESS good. ~


  1. As long as the hits are sorted by relevance I don't see the problem.

  2. For a theory blog, it'd be nice to see the fact that soda results were announced... better late than never.

  3. Anon 2 and other readers: If you want SODA or some
    other conference list-of-papers
    or Call-for-paper or
    whatnot announced here
    you should EMAIL me and
    I'll probably do it ASAP.

    Anon 2: Why didn't you also
    include in your comment
    the following:



  4. For a theory blog, it'd be nice to see the fact that soda results were announced... better late than never.

    Speaking of SODA, have you looked at this paper?


    This sort of work is very interesting because it is about constructing a human algorithm, making it tolerant to human errors.

    We need more research like this, particularly with all the web 2.0 social apps and focus on human computation.

  5. Amazon's search function used to be amazing (five years ago, say). It would nearly always find exactly what I wanted with very little input. Now, I can type in the exact title and author of a book (or the exact title and "DVD" for a DVD), and it still won't be able to find it. I don't know how they broke it so badly.

  6. Who is Amir Michail?

    I get the feeling you're going from blog to blog trying to start lengthy conversations in comments section so you can extract some quotes from a cloud of opinions on a topic you're writing/researching about.

    You're like a human spam-bot.

  7. Bill has (inadvertently) blasted open my life's secret. Do the same Amazon search on "Ken Regan" and you'll find that I've:

    () prepped Ken Burns on baseball history---stuff I got from Lance Fortnow, actually---and visuals.

    () co-authored with Oprah.

    () been involved with "The Bridges of Madison County" (I tried to sneak in a visit to Jack Lutz but there wasn't time).

    () designed art posters of my mom's favorite 1960's singers.

    And lots of etc.....NOT!! :-) But if you want me to take photos of Complexity'08, it's still a 5-figure fee :-).

    Seriously, search Amazon with my full first name and, weirdly, a bunch of my old Buffalo TRs come up, plus a similar ack. in Hemaspaandra-Ogihara...

  8. ...then on the 3rd page I see my most important book items (chapter and paper credits) at the end. So what exactly does determine the sorting order?

  9. Amir Michail runs the recently-launched "Mindrosity" blog, and develops and blogs for Web 2.0. The paper he referenced might interest some readers of this blog who work on ranking, e.g. Lane Hemaspaandra or D. Sivakumar. It also has a small overlap in ideaspace (max-likelihood inference) with my own stat. testing of chess-cheating allegations. It's fine to post a spec-query as a short flyer, even one 90% likely to meet silence---and better to try again elsewhere than to put more posts in the same thread.

    Plus I can say Amir---I posted a concrete example in your "Justin TV" item, did you see it?

  10. Thanks, Ken, that was a great thing to start my day with. But next time you're in a movie, be sure to visit us here at the middle-of-nowhere theory lab. We'll make an extra trailer available for you. Hell, I've put a down payment on my own double-wide already.

  11. Try searching for "William Gasarch" on Google books instead (books.google.com); it seems to give much more relevant results.