I’m not a math guy (as my previous post demonstrates) – but I still found this explanation of how Google spell checks searches to be very interesting. I guess because at the core, this is a logic problem, and not a math problem. Logic I am pretty good at.
Even if you aren’t a programmer try to read this and just get a feeling for what’s going on “out there on the Internet” when you do something, like search. It’s really amazing the Internet works as well as it does, considering the complexity.
In the past week, two friends (Dean and Bill) independently told me they were amazed at how Google does spelling correction so well and quickly. Type in a search like [speling] and Google comes back in 0.1 seconds or so with Did you mean: spelling. (Yahoo and Microsoft are similar.) What surprised me is that I thought Dean and Bill, being highly accomplished engineers and mathematicians, would have good intuitions about statistical language processing problems such as spelling correction. But they didn’t, and come to think of it, there’s no reason they should: it was my expectations that were faulty, not their knowledge.