Query of the Week: Who proved Fermat’s last theorem?

Sometimes how you say something is just as important as what you say. This is true in life and in searching the Internet. For example, let’s look at the query “who proved Fermat’s last theorem.” Powerset knows you are looking for a “who” and searches for matching sentences that fill in the “who” blank. Other search engines look for specific words, but have no way of knowing about the missing information you’re looking for. In this example, Powerset produces results that highlight passages from wikipedia about proving Fermat’s last theorem. Note that the first result answers the question outright and even identifies the “who”, while other results more loosely match to proving special cases of the theorem. query

When the question is switched from “who” to “when,” Powerset retrieves the matching passages that include a date or time. Notice how the highlighting of the first result changes. This is an example of how different question words can change the shape of the results, and draw the user’s attention directly to the interesting parts. -Scott Prevost, PhD, Director of Product