Arranging records in a search result to be provided in...

Data processing: database and file management or data structures – Database design – Data structure types

Reexamination Certificate

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Details

C707S793000, C707S793000, C707S793000, C707S793000, C707S793000

Reexamination Certificate

active

06415281

ABSTRACT:

TECHNICAL FIELD
This invention relates generally to systems and methods for the provision of information as search results in response to a data inquiry. More particularly, this invention relates to systems and methods for arranging the records of search results into ordered records to be included in the search results provided in response to a data inquiry of a database.
BACKGROUND
Let's change the rules of baseball. Let's provide that the players on each of the teams must be played at random. In other words, let's eliminate a baseball manager's right to decide the line-up of his or her team.
What general effect would this rule change have on a game? It would turn baseball even further from a game of strategy and tactics to a game of chance. What effect would this rule change have on the manager? By eliminating the manager's right to decide the line-up of his or her team, the manager is robbed of one category of his or her tactical inputs into the game. The manager becomes even less of a master or mistress with respect to the outcome of the game. What effect would this rule change have on the team owner? By eliminating the manager's right to decide the line-up of his or her team, the team owner does not have to consider the manager's skill in setting a line-up when hiring or firing a manager. But like the manager, the team owner is faced with even less certainty of a winning ball club. What effect would this rule change have on the baseball fan? By eliminating the manager's right to decide the line-up of his or her team, the fan does not know who is coming to the plate until the last minute. At times, a particular player's appearance at the plate may be a pleasant, welcome and hoped for surprise. But at others, another player's appearance at the plate may foreshadow an unhappy result in the ballgame. Like the manager and the team owner, under this new rule, the baseball fan arrives at the ball park with a lot less certainty regarding the pending outcome of the ballgame.
Our disturbance of the rules of baseball is sure to have left many readers uncomfortable. Like the baseball manager, we like to set the line-up of our team. Many of us prefer to have tactical and strategic input into events that take place in our lives. By this input, we may control or at least have some control of these events so as to maximize the advantages. For example, we may arrange the tasks of our workday so as to more efficiently or economically derive advantages from the workday. But in many areas, the line-up is not set and information or other occurrences are thrown at us at random.
An area in which information is often provided at random to the user is in the area of information retrieval. For example, assume that a user is using a computer system to search a database for certain information. The user formulates a data inquiry and transmits it to the system. After the system conducts the search of the database, the information that was found during the search is provided as search results to the user in response to the data inquiry. Typically, search results include more than one piece of information which we refer to herein as a record. Thus, the user is typically provided with more than one record in the search results.
Generally, the records in search results are provided in random order to the user. This oxymoron, “random order”, denotes that each record is provided to the user without regard to the other records in the search results. Further, random order also may denote that each record is provided to the user without regard to factors that may relate to the user, the data inquiry, the database, the other records in the search results as well as without regard to other factors. In some cases, the records of search results may be provided in an alphabetical order, which is considered generally to be a sub-set of random order. Alphabetical order is considered to be such a sub-set of random order because alphabetical order is generally not based on some relationship factor linking the records. Rather, alphabetical order or an alphabetical relationship amongst the records is based on the happenstance of use of a term and a particular letter of the alphabet associated with that term. The term(s) used to alphabetize the records in the search results may be arbitrarily and randomly chosen. Thus, the term “random order” is used herein to include alphabetical order of records in search results. To return to our baseball analogy, when the records of search results are provided in random order, it is like playing the members of a baseball team at random. This random order may include playing the members of the baseball team in alphabetical order based on their first names, last names, nicknames, hometowns, etc.
As noted, the records in search results may be provided in random order by the service provider of the search results. In the event of such provision of records in random order, the search provider is like the baseball manager under the new rules of baseball. The search provider loses tactical and strategic input into the “game” of providing search results. The service provider lacks control that otherwise could be used to provide search results in some advantageous tactical or strategic manner.
This lack of control may affect the service provider's ability to retain or attract clients. A client is distinguished herein from a user. A client of a service provider generally is defined herein to be an entity that supplies the service provider with information that may be used in the service provider's database. A client may pay or otherwise remunerate the service provider to use the client's information in the database, and in particular, in the search results that are provided to users making database inquiries. For example, the service provider may maintain and provide search results from a database such as a classified advertising database. In this example, a client may be an entity that provides information for use in the classified advertising database such as an advertisement. This advertisement may become a record in the classified advertising database.
If the service provider lacks control with respect to the order of records in search results, then the client's information may not make its way into advantageous positions in the search results. Alternatively, the client's information may not make its way often enough to the client's satisfaction into advantageous positions in the search results provided to users by the service provider. The client then is less certain with such a service provider that the client's information will make it into a good position in the “line-up” of records in the search results. In a sense, the client may be likened to the team owner (of information) in our baseball analogy. The client as the team owner may be very interested in the talents of the service provider as the manager in setting the line-up of records of the search results. If the service provider does not have any such talents, or if they are very limited, then the client as the team manager is less certain of a winning line-up that includes the client's information being provided to users. Similarly, if we refer to the classified advertising database example, if the service provider lacks control with respect to the order of advertisements that are provided in search results to a user, then the advertiser's information may not make its way into advantageous positions in the search results. Or, the advertiser's information may not make its way often enough to the advertiser's satisfaction into advantageous position in the search results. The advertiser then may be less willing to advertise with the service provider of the classified advertising directory, or at least be less willing to pay premiums for such advertising services.
The lack of control in providing search results also may affect the service provider's ability to retain or attract users. As noted above,

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