Online Exclusive: Stanford Cheerleaders Want an 'S' and Get 3: Stanford; Students and Search Engines

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Just what is in the water at Stanford University that has students cranking out search engines the way students at other universities crank out empty kegs? The latest in the line of Stanford-student-developed search engines is Kosmix.

Stanford already boasts famous alumni that created Yahoo and Google, the two major players in search engines, and now Kosmix has been unveiled by Stanford alumni Anand Rajarman and Venky Harinarayan.

Not only are these two creators of Kosmix alumni of the same university as Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, they also were classmates! The admissions representatives at Stanford have much to be proud of as Stanford continues to crank out Internet developers that become giants in the industry.

The question on everyone's mind is how Kosmix will fare against Google, though some may be more curious to know whether these four men had study groups together or secretly battled for the golden A in the standard bell curve classes.

Kosmix is working hard to differentiate itself from Google. Google, which already has the lion's share of search engine traffic, probably will pay Kosmix no mind, at least as long as it remains a niche search engine (presently, Kosmix is a category-based search engine for health, politics and travel).

As Kosmix grows, and it undoubtedly will, it may attempt to be David slaying Goliath (Google). Google is famous for having a secret algorithm that determines search engine rankings on a number of factors, the most important of which appears to be the number of relevant sites that link to a particular Web site. The Kosmix algorithm is purported to be more content-based than link-based, which in theory should result in Web sites with more relevant content coming at the top of the rankings, rather than Web sites that have great link campaigns.

The difference between the overall approach of Google and Kosmix adds to an already interesting debate, likely one that kept these four geniuses up at night wondering what should be king on the Internet -- content or links. Though it is unclear how many kegs these four guys tapped together, there is no disputing that they are making their mark on the world through their Internet search engines.

As people sit back and watch what unfolds between these four Stanford alumni, one has to wonder whether a couple other whiz kids are staying up late at night in the Stanford dorms developing the next search engine that will knock both Kosmix and Google from their respective perches. Only time and some Stanford professors know the answer.


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