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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

May 31, 2006 at 10:49 AM

Vinegar and search engines

A team from the University of Washington is one of 12 winners of cash grants from Microsoft of between $35,000 and $50,000. Microsoft received more than 180 applications for its project, which funded academic research to improve technology in Internet search and data mining.

The winners, announced today, included Eytan Adar, Brian Bershad, Steven Gribble and Daniel Weld from the UW. The researchers called their entry “Vinegar: Leading Indicators in Query Logs.” The concept is that when you slice and dice the vast number of queries coming into search engines, you can get a pretty good idea of the “collective consciousness” of Internet users. And that, in turn, can help predict future events.

How does vinegar relate to this? Months before SARS hit mainstream news, the researchers said, people in the Guandong province in China began buying out supplies of white vinegar, a local folk remedy.

The other winners included teams from the Rutgers University, New York University, Lehigh University, IIT Bombay and the universities of Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Melbourne and Kassel.

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