How Does Google Work?
Google is the world’s most popular search engine, with over 3.5 billion searches processed daily. Google handles this massive amount of data with a series of complex systems, including search algorithms, indexing, aggregation and ranking. The company also has a number of other services such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google Photos and the voice activated virtual digital assistant known as Google Home.
The process begins with a “crawler” crawling web pages and collecting as much information about them as possible, which is then stored in a massive database. The next step is figuring out what each page is about by visiting it, reviewing the content, images and other materials, and trying to find relevance to a user’s search query. Google then compares all of these factors to create the list of results that it sends to users when they type in their query.
This is an enormous task, and one that gets more complicated every day. Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day, and this figure keeps growing year after year. This means that the company’s system needs to locate new data, record what it is about and store it correctly in its database, and then re-categorize and re-arrange this information in less than a second after someone searches for something on Google.
Incorporating in 1998, the company was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were students at Stanford University in California. In the early days, the founders financed the business with $25 million from venture capitalist Andy Bechtolsheim, and by 1999 the firm had received over half a billion searches each day. The trademarked name was also introduced that year, and by the end of the decade the service had grown so much that its users were “googling” everything from their own names to their doppelgangers.
To handle the huge volumes of data, Google built 11 data centers around the globe, each with several hundred thousand interlinked computers. These computers run three proprietary pieces of software: Google File System, Bigtable and MapReduce. Each of these programs performs different tasks, but they are all essential to Google’s success.
The company’s most famous products include its search engine, e-mail and maps. In addition, it has a number of specialized applications such as Google Keep (an electronic notebook) and Google Image search. Other Google services include flight status and package tracking, currency, unit and time conversions, and word definitions.
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, includes several other businesses in a wide range of industries. These include health company Calico, tech industry private equity firm CapitalG, robotics company Intrinsic and the X Development division that develops “moonshot” technologies such as artificial intelligence. It is this latter service that is likely to challenge Google’s dominance in the future, as it aims to provide more relevant answers and tailored experiences to users. As part of this effort, the company is developing a large language model chatbot that has been dubbed a “Google killer”. This bot will be capable of handling questions and conversations in real-time, allowing it to become more like a virtual assistant.