Monday, 11 February 2013

Bug found in Google search systems, impossible search term with porn as result

"What does "-4^(1/4)" mean and why is it connected to porn?" is what a user of Google asked on Quora, a question & answer website. The Google user searched for "-4^(1/4)", and suprisingly, porn showed up as a result with safesearch off. When safesearch is on, it shows no results. Jeremy Hoffman, Google software engineer, replied to this question last friday.

"Hi, I'm a Google search engineer. Anon User and Nicholas Moyne did some excellent analysis. As a web search query, [-4^(1/4)] is interpreted like [-4 "1 4"], as in "Find me pages which contain a 1 next to a 4, but which do not contain a 4." This should return zero results, because it is impossible to satisfy both requirements. However, we have uncovered a bug that causes some web pages to "match" these contradictory queries. Since these are the only results that "match" the query, they are the results that get shown. We are working on a bug fix. Thanks to the Quora community for bringing this to our attention."

This is what the software engineer replied to the matter. It seems that a bug is causing porn results to show up when something 'impossible' is searched for. The bug is currently being fixed, and Jeremy Hoffman thanked the users of the website for exposing the bug.


1 comment:

  1. I think one time I got bored and did put in random words to see what wouldn't cause porn to come up. It's nice to know that even when you search for something impossible, it comes up. If you ask me they shouldn't fix it, it's one of the worlds few constants.