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The Intelligent Web: Search, smart algorithms, and big data [Hardcover]

Gautam Shroff

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Book Description

28 Nov 2013
As we use the Web for social networking, shopping, and news, we leave a personal trail. These days, linger over a Web page selling lamps, and they will turn up at the advertising margins as you move around the Internet, reminding you, tempting you to make that purchase. Search engines such as Google can now look deep into the data on the Web to pull out instances of the words you are looking for. And there are pages that collect and assess information to give you a snapshot of changing political opinion. These are just basic examples of the growth of "Web intelligence", as increasingly sophisticated algorithms operate on the vast and growing amount of data on the Web, sifting, selecting, comparing, aggregating, correcting; following simple but powerful rules to decide what matters. While original optimism for Artificial Intelligence declined, this new kind of machine intelligence is emerging as the Web grows ever larger and more interconnected.

Gautam Shroff takes us on a journey through the computer science of search, natural language, text mining, machine learning, swarm computing, and semantic reasoning, from Watson to self-driving cars. This machine intelligence may even mimic at a basic level what happens in the brain.

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[a]udiences will be amply rewarded with a very satisfying understanding of advanced computer science concepts and applications. Undoubtedly a splendid book for all levels of readers ... [h]ighly recommended. (CHOICE)

About the Author

Gautam Shroff is Vice President & Chief Scientist, Tata Consultancy Services and head of the TCS Innovation Lab in Delhi, India. He occasionally teaches in an adjunct capacity at the IIT Delhi and IIIT Delhi, as well as online via Coursera. Prior to joining TCS in 1998, Shroff had been on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA and thereafter of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India. He has also held visiting positions at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA, and at Argonne National Labs in Chicago. Shroff has published over 30 research papers in the areas of computational mathematics, parallel computing, distributed systems, software architecture, software engineering, and information fusion. He has also written a book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting summary of today's Artificial Intelligence trends 10 Jan 2014
By Izzy - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Don’t be fooled by the book’s title. This is not a book about how the World Wide Web will be intelligent, but about how intelligence, artificial intelligence specifically, will emerge from the web. In very knowledgeable way, Mr. Shroff takes us into a journey describing an amalgamation of algorithms and technologies that, in combination, have the potential to deliver at least a “weak AI” promise. While the book would have benefited by additional copy-edits (the detailed explanations are often hard to follow due to lack of specific examples), its main value of the work is that it delivers an coherent perspective about how various technologies (Bayes Theorem, Semantic Web, Sparse Memories, Machine Learning, Neural Networks, etc.) in combination with the explosive growth of data (structured or otherwise) from the Internet opens up a path to solving the AI puzzle. Don't expect to learn from this book how technologies such as Sparse Distributed Memory (SDM) work, but at least you will learn there is such a thing and what it applies to. Overall, the book is engrossing thanks to its many anecdotes, and always interesting—a highly recommended reading.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Intelligent Web: search, smart algorithms, and big data 12 April 2014
By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter - Published on
There have been many recent successes in the field of artificial intelligence. Some, like the 2011 success of IBM’s computer Watson beating champion human players in the popular TV show Jeopardy!, are ‘grandstanding’. Others are seemingly less obvious, but no less impressive for that. Face recognition, a task normally associated with humans and a few ‘higher-animals’, is now incorporated as routine by Facebook and Google’s Picasa. The ability to recognise speech is not far behind, as any user of the Siri feature on Apple iPhones can attest to. The point to note is that artificial intelligence technologies are becoming more important, more inconspicuous and an integral part of mainstream computing.

In The Intelligent Web, Gautam Shroff successfully argues that many of the recent successes have come through the deployment of many known but disparate techniques working together. He further argues that these advances have come about by this deployment being on large volumes of ‘big data’; all of which has been made possible , and indeed driven by the internet and the world wide web. In other words, Shroff argues, rather than ‘traditional’ artificial intelligence, these successes are best described as ‘web intelligence’. Semantic arguments aside, Shroff presents his case logically and convincingly.

What Shroff argues is that the cumulative use of artificial intelligence techniques at web scale can result in behaviour that exhibits the very basic feature of human intelligence, to; ‘put two and two together’ or ‘connect the dots’. In the book he dissects the ability to connect the dots. He argue, quite convincingly, that this ability is composed of looking and experiencing the world around us, next is to listen to what is important and discard the irrelevant, then to connect different facts and derive new conclusions. Then is the ability to to make predictions about the future and finally go put these to good use to correct and control our actions.

The bulk of the book is chapters devoted to each of these steps. Shroff accomplishes this with great diligence and intelligence. each chapter is replete with explanation and useful, if not energising, examples. the epilogue acknowledges that tricky question regarding any discourse on artificial intelligence, ‘where do the goals come from?” “Obviously the answer” says Shroff, “is from us. The web intelligence systems themselves do not generate their overarching goals; these are built in, by their creators, i.e., us.”

The missing ingredient between these ‘artificial intelligence’ systems and us, as ‘natural intelligence’ systems is purpose. Shroff in his epilogue poses the thought that for the web intelligence systems of today to cross the chasm, integrate these six elements and become a mind is an achievable scientific task worthy of the effort. As he presents the problem it seems far more close than it did in Turing’s time, when even the possible path was mere whimsy.

At the same time this book is about the ‘weak’ artificial intelligence. Shroff avoids the deep philosophical waters of strong artificial intelligence; whether or not machines can be conscious or ‘truly intelligent’. The tenuous links are there for the reader to make if they choose. As presented by Shroff these links are more tenuous than the very worthwhile and entertaining Wetware: a computer in every living cell by Dennis Bray. Where Bray provocatively engages in the debate about the computational capabilities of protein networks (not too dissimilar from an electronic web network).

Despite the success of his arguments there is a certain cumbersome feel to Shroff’s writing. In the prologue of his book Shroff says how he “grew up reading and being deeply influenced by the popular science books of George Gamow” and “I hope to entertain and elucidate, in the spirit of Gamow.” This rather lofty goal Shroff does fall short on. This book requires attention and diligence to read. It does not effortlessly tackle a complex subject with the insightful ramble of Bray in Wetware, for example. It is worth the effort, but I doubt it will be remembered with the same ‘affection’ as, for example, Gamow’s Mr Tomkins in Wonderland.

This review was first published here: [...]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars 24 Aug 2014
By dkafle - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you have taken the course, no need to buy the book.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book in essay style! 29 Dec 2013
By Tinniam V Ganesh - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was slightly surprised by the book's essay style of content. Personally, I was expecting a technical book having done the author's course in Coursera. A couple of equations thrown in here & there, would have 'explained away' some of the wordier explanations. Overall, a great book, written lucidly, with several examples and technological references. In any case well worth the buy!
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Knowledge on Intelligent Web: explained in Simplest Language: Must Read: Must Buy 12 Mar 2014
By Prof. Sugata Sanyal - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
This book: the Intelligent Web: Search, Smart Algorithms and Big Data by Dr. Gautam Shroff is a book of a different class. I started reading it, and got engrossed by realizing that a very difficult subject (topics spanning fundamental issues : Look, Listen, Learn, Connect, Predict and Correct) has been made so easy by Dr. Shroff. When we think that the person handling these is a human being, it sounds simple, not so, when we re-think that it is being handled by a computer. I had read that it is tough to explain complex issues in a simple manner. Dr. Shroff has proved it in this book. I would suggest a quick read to start with, and then the reader should follow it up, chapter by chapter, to get the insight on each issues. The Intelligent Web is emerging still,
not an established stuff. This book will urge the scientists and engineers and even knowledge seekers to read for learning what is a Intelligent Web and it has 131 references which will help the reader to add to the knowledge base on these topics. I strongly suggest this book be used by all who want to know about this topic.

Prof. Sugata Sanyal, Research Advisor, Tata Consultancy Services, India
Honorary Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, India
Adjunct Professor, Indian Institute of Technology,Kharagpur, India
Member, School of Computing and Informatics' "Brain Trust", Univ. of Louisiana,USA
Professor(Retired):Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (1973-2012), India
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