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search engine

Search engines are programs that search documents for specified keywords and returns a list of the documents where the keywords were found. A search engine is really a general class of programs, however, the term is often used to specifically describe systems like Google, Bing and Yahoo! Search that enable users to search for documents on the World Wide Web.

Web Search Engines

Typically, Web search engines work by sending out a spider to fetch as many documents as possible. Another program, called an indexer, then reads these documents and creates an index based on the words contained in each document. Each search engine uses a proprietary algorithm to create its indices such that, ideally, only meaningful results are returned for each query.

See How Web Search Engines Work in the Did You Know...? section of Webopedia.
Also see "Web Search Engines & Directories" in the Quick Reference section of Webopedia.







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