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Sometimes, when using Google search, you don't immediately get quality results to your query. It is seems that PageRank algorithm gets distracted by widely used keywords that have different meanings and uses. Therefore, you need to spend extra time and possibly use different keywords to refine the search context.

Is there a good reference that addresses the PageRank algorithm's shortcomings? Is there a contextual search algorithm?

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  • to answer your specific question, there are many papers that discuss PageRank mathematically, such as:

    Deeper Inside PageRank, (A. N. Langville and C.D. Meyer), Internet Mathematics (1), 335–400 (2004)

    and in each one you might find discussion of computational and operational issues (computing it faster, using memory more efficiently), but I don't know of any that stand out as addressing shortcomings of -results- specifically.

  • to answer what you're getting at ("why does google not give me what I want without trying?")

    • google search does not equal PageRank (though PR is a major part of it)
    • PageRank itself doesn't address lexical ambiguity
    • Google's additions try to address multiple meanings of words (different meanings under different contexts), and synonyms (other strings that mean the same thing); they're not perfect, but more and more they are being addressed.
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    $\begingroup$ PageRank itself doesn't address lexical ambiguity - Quite. In fact, PR isn't explicitly about search at all, it is about inferring popularity measures. $\endgroup$ – Charles Stewart Sep 3 '10 at 16:56
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Are you talking about semantic search ? In this case you could start from the wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_search. Also, a great ressource on the semantic web is the book A semantic web primer by Antoniou and Van Harmelen, but you can find a lot of related books with a google search.

Also, I am not sure wether this is a relevant question for here.

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There exists topical version of the PageRank and Hits, maybe this could be of interest for you:

Topical Link Analysis for Web Search : http://www.cse.lehigh.edu/~brian/pubs/2006/SIGIR/

Topic-Sensitive PageRank : http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.110.1183&rep=rep1&type=pdf

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