Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Law Search Engines

Logo of Westlaw.Image via Wikipedia
Westlaw and Lexis provide searching capabilities to law students at a cost provided through tuition. Usually there is one database over another that a student will prefer. If cost is an issue, there are a number of search engines that will provide similar results
  • , this legal search engine is free, but mainly focuses on federal and state of New York materials.
  • , this site is another cost free search engine, but has a general focus on federal cases and statutes.
  • , this is a site that provides state and county codes for all states and counties in the U.S.
  • , the basic search engines are a great way to begin a search and gather key terms.

There are also alternatives to search engines like Westlaw and Lexis that cost a fraction of the Westlaw or Lexis price. For instance; , this site is very similar to West and Lexis but runs for about 160 a month. Also, , is the national law library website and provides federal and state caes for around 80 a month. Finally, , is the a similar version of "itislaw" and runs for about 15 a month.

These are not the only sites on the web and favoritism to one site over another is merely my opinion. Keep Searching.
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Search Engines

screenshot of then OSL Desktop Search engines ...Image via Wikipedia
A search engine finds information for its database by accepting listings sent in by authors wanting exposure, or by getting the information from their "Web crawlers," "spiders," or "robots," programs that roam the Internet storing links to and information about each page they visit. Web crawler programs are a subset of "software agents," programs with an unusual degree of autonomy which perform tasks for the user.

According to The WWW Robot Page, these agents normally start with a historical list of links, such as server lists, and lists of the most popular or best sites, and follow the links on these pages to find more links to add to the database.[1]

A meta-search engine is a search tool that sends user requests to several other search engines and/or databases and aggregates the results into a single list or displays them according to their source. Meta search engines enable users to enter search criteria once and access several search engines simultaneously. Meta search engines operate on the premise that the Web is too large for any one search engine to index it all and that more comprehensive search results can be obtained by combining the results from several search engines. This also may save the user from having to use multiple search engines separately.[2]

A subject directory is a catalog of sites collected and organized by humans. Subject directories are often called subject "trees" because they start with a few main categories and then branch out into subcategories, topics, and subtopics.
Because directories cover only a small fraction of the pages available on the Web, they are most effective for finding general information on popular or scholarly subjects.[3]

[1] How search engines work?
[2] Meta search engine
[3] Subject Directories

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Differences between Search Engines

                                Image via Wikipedia

a chart to describe the search engine marketDifferences between Search Engines

A search engine is a web application developed to hunt for specific keywords and group them according to relevance; search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are the most popular. Search engines are used by end-users to at least accomplish a specific research purpose or find information that will fulfill their web queries (i.e., what is a search engine?).

How search engines get the data? The first step is for search engines is to hunt for information through an automated process known as spidering. These spiders are commonly called bots, robots, or web-crawlers that are complex computer algorithms such as Googlebot that will continuously patrol the internet and fetch new information to be stored onto web-servers.

Architecture of a Web crawler.Not all spiders are equally intelligent, but they all have one common purpose: (1) they crawl and collect website content; (2) they determine a websites location; (3) they determine the popularity of the website; (4) they record the characteristics of website; and (5) they rank the websites.

A website has a specific architectural structure for holding information and the majority will have the following information in which a web-crawler will collect and store for its purposes (1) (not all inclusive): 

Title tag
Textual content (body)
JavaScript/CSS externalized
Meta tag
Alt attributes on all images
IP address
Meta keywords tag
Qualified links
File types / Image names
Heading tag(s)
Site map
Contact information
Strong/bold tags
Text navigation
Web analytics
In the second step, search engines have to index the data it has collected in order to make it usable and retrievable. Indexing is the process of taking the spider's raw data and categorizing it, removing duplicate information, and generally organizing it all into an accessible structure – that is, a directory and sub-directory of folders and files with referential integrity; it's the same concept used in managing data of Relational Database Management Systems (RDMS).

Finally, for each web query by an end-user, the search engine applies an algorithm that evaluates many parametric and non-parametric criteria of a website that will generate an intelligent decision of which listings to display and in what order. These algorithms are computations that involve mathematics such as Statistics, Bayesian Networks, and Clustering in order to produce a particular web query outcome and collectively, these mathematical algorithms are known as, Data-Mining Techniques.

(1) "How Google Works - Google Guide,"

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