Skip to main content

Once upon a time: The 'G' Story





It began with an argument. When he first met Larry Page in the summer of 1995, Sergey Brin was a second-year grad student in the computer science department at Stanford University. Gregarious by nature, Brin had volunteered as a guide of sorts for potential first-years - students who had been admitted, but were still deciding whether to attend. His duties included showing recruits the campus and leading a tour of nearby San Francisco. Page, an engineering major from the University of Michigan, ended up in Brin's group.



It was hardly love at first sight. Walking up and down the city's hills that day, the two clashed incessantly, debating, among other things, the value of various approaches to urban planning. "Sergey is pretty social; he likes meeting people," Page recalls, contrasting that quality with his own reticence. "I thought he was pretty obnoxious. He had really strong opinions about things, and I guess I did, too."




When Page showed up at Stanford a few months later, he selected human-computer interaction pioneer Terry Winograd as his adviser. Soon thereafter he began searching for a topic for his doctoral thesis. It was an important decision. As Page had learned from his father, a computer science professor at Michigan State, a dissertation can frame one's entire academic career. He kicked around 10 or so intriguing ideas, but found himself attracted to the burgeoning World Wide Web.


Page didn't start out looking for a better way to search the Web. Despite the fact that Stanford alumni were getting rich founding Internet companies, Page found the Web interesting primarily for its mathematical characteristics. Each computer was a node, and each link on a Web page was a connection between nodes - a classic graph structure. "Computer scientists love graphs," Page tells me. The World Wide Web, Page theorized, may have been the largest graph ever created, and it was growing at a breakneck pace. Many useful insights lurked in its vertices, awaiting discovery by inquiring graduate students. Winograd agreed, and Page set about pondering the link structure of the Web.


It proved a productive course of study. Page noticed that while it was trivial to follow links from one page to another, it was nontrivial to discover links back. In other words, when you looked at a Web page, you had no idea what pages were linking back to it. This bothered Page. He thought it would be very useful to know who was linking to whom.


Why? To fully understand the answer to that question, a minor detour into the world of academic publishing is in order. For professors - particularly those in the hard sciences like mathematics and chemistry - nothing is as important as getting published. Except, perhaps, being cited.


Fair enough. So what's the point? Well, it was Tim Berners-Lee's desire to improve this system that led him to create the World Wide Web. And it was Larry Page and Sergey Brin's attempts to reverse engineer Berners-Lee's World Wide Web that led to Google. The needle that threads these efforts together is citation - the practice of pointing to other people's work in order to build up your own.


Which brings us back to the original research Page did on such backlinks, a project he came to call BackRub.


At the time Page conceived of BackRub, the Web comprised an estimated 10 million documents, with an untold number of links between them. The computing resources required to crawl such a beast were well beyond the usual bounds of a student project. Unaware of exactly what he was getting into, Page began building out his crawler.


The idea's complexity and scale lured Brin to the job. A polymath who had jumped from project to project without settling on a thesis topic, he found the premise behind BackRub fascinating. "I talked to lots of research groups" around the school, Brin recalls, "and this was the most exciting project, both because it tackled the Web, which represents human knowledge, and because I liked Larry."

Extracts from The Birth of Google, Wired Magazine


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Flickr Hacks:5 Tips get into "Flickr Explore" page!

As you know, Flickr uses an algorithm to choose the best 500 photos every day and post them on Flickr Explore page. This mesmerizing collection is done auto' magic 'ally by an "interestingness algorithm" which rates each photo how good it is. It does by considering lot of factors such as who views, who comments and who favourites a photo. It is not most views, most favourites or most comments. Here's what Flickr says: "There are lots of things that make a photo 'interesting' (or not) in the Flickr. Where the clickthroughs are coming from; who comments on it and when; who marks it as a favorite; its tags and many more things which are constantly changing. Interestingness changes over time, as more and more fantastic photos and stories are added to Flickr." As I tried to crack down this interestingness puzzle, I figured out certain shortcuts by which you can get to the Flickr Explore page. Get this basics straight . Favourites matter m

அவர்களும், நானும்!

அவர்கள்: “என்னங்க... உங்க வீட்டு டிவி ரொம்ப சிறுசா இருக்கு?” நான்: எங்க வீட்ல பெருசா இருக்கிற 170 இன்ச் புத்தக அலமாரி-யை கவனிச்சீங்களா? அவர்கள்: “XYZ (Private School) பள்ளிக்கூடந்தான் (or ABC டீச்சர்தான்) பெஸ்ட் , என் பொண்ணு அங்கதான் படிக்கிறா..நீங்களும் உங்க பையன அங்க சேத்துடுங்களேன்” நான்: ஸ்கூல் பீஸ் கட்டறீங்கன்னா, இப்பவே நாங்க ரெடி!  அவர்கள்: “கார் வேற பழசாயிடுச்சு, வேற வாங்கிடுங்களேன்..” நான்: நீங்க எப்ப அனுமதி கொடுப்பீங்கன்னுதான், பணப்பையோட காத்துக்கிட்டிருந்தோம், தோ கிளம்பிட்டோம்! அவர்கள்: “வாங்கறதுதான் வாங்கறீங்க..புது காராவே வாங்கிடுங்களேன்...”  நான்: நீங்களே ஒண்ணு வாங்கி கொடுத்துடுங்களேன், நன்றியோடு வாங்கிக்கிறோம். கேஷா... கார்டா... ப்ரோ? அவர்கள்: "வெயிட் குறைக்கிறதெல்லாம் பெரிய மேட்டரே இல்ல ப்ரோ...டெய்லி வெறும் வயித்தில 'ஹாட் வாட்டர் + லெமன் ஜூஸ்' 45 நாள் விடாம குடிங்க.. வேற ஒண்ணும் செய்ய தேவையில்லை...சூப்பர்-ஆ ஸ்லிம் ஆயிடுவீங்க" நான்: வெயிட் குறைக்கிறதுக்கு டிப்ஸ் கேட்டனா நான்...? நான்: “உங்க பையனுக்குத் தமிழ் படிக்க சொல்லிக்

60 Most Creative Print Ads (Pictures with Copywriting)

Get to the point Scholz & Friends, Berlin for N24 Komatsu Call the experts for any building challenge Jung von Matt, Hamburg, to promote a short story competition. Lego - won the Grand Prix at Cannes 2006. Imagine... McCann Erickson for Maggi. If only women spent less time cooking. LG&F for Bold, the Belgian Association for Obese Patients Encourage your children to do more sport. HP Australia Recycle computers and printers! DODGE Grab life by the horns For things with an eye for Assembly Tamiya Assembly Toys Threebond super glue: Cup Quick dry. Barb's Harley Davidson Motor Cycles: License Available in "Fast," Balls out" and "License and registration please." Blues Line: Portrait A new face for your hair. O2: Pay & Go African Cafe: Dinner The Africa Café is a restaurant situated in the heart of Cape Town, South Africa. Colgate Dental Floss: Pig Colgate Dental Floss. Absolutly flawless. Slice Woman&