How Logician George Boole Shaped Content Searchability via “Boolean Search Terms”

George Boole

Did you know that a great deal of the convenience and access to information you enjoy from computer platforms today is in large part thanks to a man who died more than 100 years ago?

George Boole, the English son of a poor shoemaker, was born with an innate sense of math and logic. Through advanced study, Boole created forms of reasoning that ultimately founded a field of mathematical science known as symbolic logic. His forms of Boolean algebra changed the way information was processed, stored, and combined for deeper meaning and utilization. His theories were founded on the idea that basic numerical logic combined with the natural tendencies of the human brain could reap a more organized and productive method of learning.

Kerry Redshaw states that, “With George Boole’s ‘Mathematical Analysis’ and ‘Investigation’, Boolean algebra, sometimes known as Boolean logic, came into being. His two value system, separating arguments into different classes which can then be processed according to the presence or absence of a certain property, enabled any proposition—regardless of the number of individual items – to draw logical conclusions.”

Google Meets Boole

Google may have been created by two graduates of Montessori educational facilities, but the real genius that keeps the monster of searchability working comes from George Boole and his rational explanations of dividing and combining fields of study and interest.  He truly was well ahead of his time.

His combination of math and reasoning presents an integral algorithm that, when utilized correctly, will bring to your front page of search results the metadata that you really need. The nitty gritty details of the systematization are complex, and difficult to learn unless you plan to forge a career in that field. There are, however, some important pieces of this equation that you should know.

Important Boolean Search Terminology

There are three terms that you need to know to get the best searchability from any search engine you encounter. Those terms are as follows:

  • And
  • Or
  • Not

These 8 characters have literally revolutionized the way the Metadata is presented and filtered, and when you learn the best ways to utilize it your paperless searching will be far more effective.  The Venn diagrams on this page by the New York Library can be helpful in illustrating how these small words can make such a big difference.

And

This term should be used to narrow your search field. The example given at the Elmer E. Rasmussen Library page is caribou and reindeer. If you want to find information that only includes comparisons of both animal types, then using ‘And’ between them will help to narrow the search. You will not have to sift through pages about just one or the other. Including the rational narrowing search word AND will ensure that your front page of results brings up only pages that have information on both subjects.

Or

This will be the word you use to maximize your search results.  Instead of narrowing the field to articles and posts that combine information on both topics, you will be given results that cover either of the topics you selected. If you want an abundance of information, then this is the word to use.

Not

There will be some search subjects that tend to be connected in nature, but not in your own purposes. Utilizing the word “not” in your search will help to prevent dealing with the connections you are not looking for. For instance, the minute you hear the term “cats” you will most likely think of “dogs.” For this reason, a search for just cats will often pull up many posts about dogs. By putting “not” in your search, you can weed out all of the superfluous affiliation with the subjects you are not looking for. Obviously, this is a simplistic example, but the utilization can have advanced applications in your research efforts.

eFileCabinet and Boole

Now that you are a little more well-versed in the grandfather of paperless searchability, you need to know how this information can find applications in your own home and office. Companies that deal with Document Management Software (DMS) have search engines built into their systems. In many cases, the DMS will link to the search engine on your existing PC file manager. These engines are built with the same concepts as the massive hubs like Google, but on a smaller scale in order to be utilized on your computer.

Having the same back-end components of storage, logic, and even a dose of AI learning capability, you will be able to use your new knowledge of the Boolean power searching to get what you need from your stored paperless office files. Knowing more about how these methods work can help you to achieve better utilization which can increase your productivity and organization.

By | 2016-12-15T11:59:05+00:00 December 14th, 2015|
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