Contemporary Issues in Computer Science

Google Query Completion as Social Science Research



1.     Do the following experiment at least three times:


a.     Choose your favorite search engine.  Write down which one you have chosen.

b.     Using the search engine that you chose in part a, begin typing a query and watch to see the completions that are suggested to you.  Write them down.

c.     What have you just learned about what other people are thinking?


Choose queries that will tell you something about contemporary culture.  For example, typing “quadr” and seeing that the top suggestion is “quadratic formula” isn’t what we’re looking for.  Typing, “What actors” and seeing what comes up is more interesting.


You may have to try more than three things to get results that tell you something about our shared view of the world.  Write down the three most interesting ones you did.


It may amuse you also to try playing the game: 



2.     Read the following article, which you can get from the New York Times directly:


or from the class website:


3.     Repeat step 1, using some of the examples from the article to give you ideas.  Write down the three most interesting things that you tried.  If you want to use a different search engine, that’s fine.  Just tell us which one you are using.


For parts 1 and 3 you’ll turn in a list.  Each entry in the list will be:


·       The search engine that you used.

·       The partial query that you typed.

·       The ordered list of completions that you were shown.

·       Your answer to question (c).  This can be one or two sentences.


You should come to class prepared to tell us some of the examples that you tried.


See the Homeworks section of the Class Policies page for further instructions on how to complete this and other homework assignments.