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The CERN Search Engine

Dmitry S. Nikitov and Per Hagen , IT/IS

The CERN Search Engine is the service that allows users to search the huge amount of information stored inside the CERN Intranet.

The CERN Intranet today consists of roughly 700 000 documents generated by numerous applications. The Search Engine is able to index and search documents in popular formats: HTML, XML, PDF, Microsoft Office documents (PowerPoint, Word). Indexing is independent of platform because the server is using the standard Internet protocols.

In addition to the collection of CERN documents in the Intranet, the Search Engine is providing full-text search of the impressive collection of scientific documents in the CERN Document Server. Furthermore, a few experiments are using the service for private information.

The Search Engine serves today over 1000 queries per day and more than 200 queries/hour during working hours. You can use either the Simple or the Advanced Search forms for complex criteria, like "date"-searches, without having to learn the search syntax.

The Search Engine has been serving CERN for several years and showed itself as a reliable and stable service. However, as time is passing, software and hardware needs some maintenance to make it up-to-date.

The CERN Search Engine is based upon Inktomi Enterprise Search®. The company name changed from Infoseek to Inktomi in 2000.

What has been done

We have tested and configured version 4.2.

The current version we are using is 4.0.8. The changes in the new version 4.2 are mainly bug-fixes, security-fixes and of cosmetic nature.

We have taken the opportunity to make design changes to the search page and update the links

The new service will run on the well-known port 80 while the old service is running on port 8765. Using the standard port 80 solves the problem that some external sites cannot reach the search service due to firewalls. It is planned to redirect the old port 8765 after the old service ceases to exist such that the old URL is still operational.

We have dropped the support for Topics on the search page in the new service. We have instead provided a link to the CERN Index on the CERN Home page.

What's next

The current service will continue to run during a transition period towards the end of the year.

Web site owners registered in our central database will be notified by email about the new service. A notice about the change, and a link to the new service, will be added to the search page.

Web authors are encouraged to update pages to reflect the use of the new URL.

The current service is located at http://wwwsearch:8765/

The new service is located at

Some search examples

The following short examples should give the reader some idea how to search. See the online help for complete description.

The search syntax is Inktomi's Natural Language.

Syntax Explanation
word Search for documents containing a word. Example: higgs
"word1 word2" Search for a term of adjacent words.
Example: "higgs boson"
Albert Einstein Use uppercase (capital) letters to identify proper names. This is equivalent to the term "Albert Einstein"
W3C Uppercase matches only exact case. That is, W3C does not match w3C w3c W3c. lowercase matches both cases.
term1 term2 this or that. Search must satisfy at least one criteria.
Example: "top quark" "beauty quark"
+term this and that. Search must satisfy several criteria.
Example: +lepton +"Higgs boson"
-term should not. Try to exclude given terms.
Example: +"proton decay" -SUSY -"super symmetry"

Upgrade Plans

All details concerning the upgrade of the central CERN search engine are available at URL:

For matters related to this article please contact the author.

Vol. XXXVI, issue no 3

Last Updated on Fri Dec 07 14:18:28 CET 2001.
Copyright © CERN 2001 -- European Organization for Nuclear Research