What is Google?

Google is a world-wide search engine people use billions of times each day to find information. When a user enters a query, Google surveys its massive index of web pages to find matches, and delivers the results in descending order of relevance, usually within a fraction of a second. Google’s name is derived from the number googol, a number representing 1 followed by 100 zeros. The company’s founders intended the term to represent their goal of “organizing the world’s knowledge and making it universally accessible and useful.”

Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin with the purpose of developing a search engine that would give users the most relevant results for their queries. The pair used discounted computer parts from Sun Microsystems and their own credit cards to start the company, which they named after the first letter of each of their names, and their dog, Yoshka. Google has grown into a global enterprise that has thousands of employees worldwide and many products and services.

The core Google product is its search engine, which returns a list of matching web pages based on a proprietary algorithm. The ordering of those results is largely determined by a ranking system known as PageRank, which uses a recursive calculation to assign a page importance score to each of its pages. Google also employs a wide range of other secret criteria to rank a page’s relevance, such as the number of other pages that link to it.

In addition to its search engine, Google offers a variety of other services such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Earth, Android, YouTube, and Google Calendar. Google’s tools for students, researchers, and businesspeople include Google Scholar, which provides access to scholarly articles and books, and Google News, which provides customized news feeds based on individual interests.

While Google’s tools are powerful, they do not replace other research methods, such as visiting a library or using an academic database. The most successful research projects often combine a thorough Googling with more traditional sources.

Other products and services of Google include Google Fiber, a fiber-optic Internet service that is available to about 3.1 million people in the United States; Google TV, which provides streaming video services; and Google Play, a store for digital content such as movies, music, books, and apps. The company also offers a cloud storage solution called Google Drive and provides software development tools for its various platforms. Its newest product, Google Glass, is a virtual-reality headset.

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