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Meet the Lady Behind the Origins of Search Engines

The reason why we have the convenience of searching anything that we can possible think of online is due to the work of the Cambridge professor of computers and information, Karen Sparck Jones, who basically taught computers how to understand human language.

A self-taught programmer with a focus on natural language processing, and an advocate for women in the field, Sparck Jones also foreshadowed by decades Silicon Valley’s current reckoning, warning about the risks of technology being led by computer scientists who were not attuned to its social implications.
Sparck Jones’s seminal 1972 paper in the Journal of Documentation laid the groundwork for the modern search engine. In it, she combined statistics with linguistics — an unusual approach at the time — to establish formulas that embodied principles for how computers could interpret relationships between words.

Know more about her extraordinary life and work on the New York Times.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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