Rochester Institute of Technology

To develop a mathematically-aware search engine for popular use by both students and experts

  • Amount $470,458
  • City Rochester, NY
  • Investigator Richard Zanibbi
  • Year 2017
  • Program Digital Technology
  • Sub-program Scholarly Communication

A “math aware” search engine is exactly what it sounds like, a search engine that speaks and understands the language of mathematics. It would be able to locate not only words on pages, but to identify and recognize mathematical symbols, expressions, equations, formulas, and theorems. This is harder than it sounds, since common mathematical symbols can take on special meanings depending on the context in which they appear. This grant funds work by computer scientists Richard Zanibbi and Lee Giles to create an easy to use, fully math aware search engine. Zanibbi and Giles plan to develop state-of-the-art methods for extracting, indexing and retrieving math in documents; develop algorithms for the recognition of handwritten math and math captured in images; and implement these in a user-friendly interface with helpful features like autocompletion of common queries. The new engine will then be tested on Wikipedia and on CiteSeerX, an open-source repository of academic papers. The completed search engine, if successful, would vastly expand the possibilities of discovered for amateur and professional mathematicians alike, with numerous applications in both research and education.

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