Mathematicians beat pornographers! April 16, 2009Posted by David Speyer in math life.
For years, whenever I ran a web search for something involving LaTeX, I would throw the word “typesetting” into the search terms in order to screen out the p-o-r-n. I just checked, and this is no longer necessary: Even without safesearch, the first three pages of google hits on “latex” contain only one allusion to the material’s use in fetish wear — and only three references to the rubber material at all.
It is great that google now thinks I am more likely to care about quality typesetting than about rubber clad women. But I wonder whether this is smart behavior on google’s part. It seems to me that a really smart search engine would realize that people searching for “latex” fall into three or four distinct camps — mathematicians, materials scientists, fetishists, and perhaps some group I’m not thinking of — and offer me a few hits focused on each group. And that, in turn, made me wonder how I would design an algorithm to do such clustering. Any ideas?