A mathematical technique for studying disorder in quantum systems could improve internet keyword searches. It is able to spot significant patterns in web pages and text documents, and may even be adaptable to analysing the human genome.
Standard keyword searching compares word frequencies in one document with the frequencies in a standard corpus of text from many sources. If a word in the document occurs more frequently than average, it is considered important.
The new method gauges the importance of words in a document based on where they appear, rather than simply on how often they occur. "You should be able to detect an intrinsic property of a book without the need to compare it with different books," says Pedro Carpena, a physicist at the University of Malaga in Spain.
Read about it here in the New Scientist on-line (5 April, 2009):