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Boolean Logic: how to talk to search engines in their own language


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You think in words. The search engine thinks in math. How can you communicate? BOOLEAN! Use Boolean logic to REALLY tell a search engine what you want to know! This presentation will show you how to use AND, OR, and AND and OR in combination.

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Boolean Logic: how to talk to search engines in their own language

  1. 1. Booleanand what it can do for you!
  2. 2. GeorgeBoole•He is a rock star•He did math like Michael did “Thriller”•He invented Boolean LogicThis is
  3. 3. BOOLEAN LOGICis a system that combines terms using AND and OR.Boolean lets you tell a searchengine what you want to know!
  4. 4. How you think How a search engine thinksGeorge Boole, afamousmathematician, was also a greatanimal lover. Doyou think he hadany pets?
  5. 5. If the search enginewere a person, thiswould be an easyproblem – it justspeaks a differentlanguage!How a search engine thinks
  6. 6. Boolean is how you translatebetween your English and thesearch engine’s super-logicalcomputer language!Luckily, you only need toknow two easy words.
  7. 7. ANDProduces only results that include all keywords and conditions.
  8. 8. EVERYTHINGABOUTCATSTHIS is everything on the entireInternet that includes the word CATS.
  9. 9. EVERYTHINGABOUTBOOLETHIS is everything on the entire Internet thatmentions the word BOOLE.
  10. 10. EVERYTHINGABOUTCATSEVERYTHINGABOUTBOOLEHere they are together. Everything CATS and everythingBOOLE.Notice the rather sizeable overlap.Sometimes CATS and BOOLE occur together.HMMMMM.
  11. 11. ONLYstuff aboutCATSANDBOOLEEVERYTHINGABOUTCATSEVERYTHINGABOUTBOOLEWe know that information about Boole’s pet catsmust include both the word “Boole” and the word“cats.”Therefore, the information we want must belocated somewhere in that overlap!
  12. 12. ONLYstuff aboutCATSANDBOOLEBy using AND, we have told the search engine toeliminate any results that do not include BOTHkeywords.Now we have a good chance of finding theinformation we want!
  13. 13. ORProduces results that include every keyword and condition.
  14. 14. EVERYTHINGABOUTCATSHere we have everything about CATSagain.
  15. 15. EVERYTHINGABOUTDOGSAnd what do you know–here’s everything aboutDOGS!
  16. 16. EVERYTHINGABOUTCATSEVERYTHINGABOUTDOGSHere they are together.We don’t want to eliminate either one of these words. Wewant to know about all the cats as well as all the dogs.HMMMMM!
  17. 17. EVERYTHINGABOUTCATSEVERYTHINGABOUTDOGSWhen we ask for CATS OR DOGS, the searchengine knows that we want every result that includesEITHER or BOTH keywords.Now our results include not onlyCATS, but also DOGS!
  18. 18. COMBO!
  19. 19. EVERYTHINGABOUTCATSHere we have – again! – everything aboutCATS.
  20. 20. EVERYTHINGABOUTCATSEVERYTHINGABOUTDOGSAnd now, everything about CATS as well aseverything about DOGS.
  21. 21. EVERYTHINGABOUTCATSEVERYTHINGABOUTDOGSWe know that by using OR, we can includeeverything about all the keywords.
  22. 22. EVERYTHINGABOUTCATSEVERYTHINGABOUTDOGSEVERYTHINGABOUTBOOLEWhat we’re looking for now is information onGeorge Boole’s cats and dogs – in otherwords, BOOLE AND anything about his CATS ORhis DOGS.
  23. 23. EVERYTHINGABOUTCATSEVERYTHINGABOUTDOGSEVERYTHINGABOUTBOOLEThat information will be in the overlap, just like before!Except now, we’re using TWO operators – AND and OR!
  24. 24. This is how we can tell the search engine to give us onlyresults that include the word “BOOLE” at the same time aseither the word “CATS” or the word “DOGS.”Now we’re SURE to find what we’re looking for!BOOLE AND (CATSOR DOGS)
  25. 25. Where is Boolean used?• Google!– Google already puts AND between all of your searchterms, but sometimes you may want to use OR instead– Using OR can supercharge your Goo-fu!– Try the example!• Boole (cats OR dogs)• Any database– Databases usually give you drop-down AND/OR menus– Even easier than the Goo– Access them for free through your public library, school orcollege
  26. 26. Boxford’s DatabasesRemember, you’ll need your card to log in!Academic One-File Lots of good stuff in one neat placeGale Virtual Reference Library Good for quick answersEBSCOhost A bunch of databases, all usefulHeritageQuest Great for looking up your ancestors
  27. 27. CONGRATULATIONS!Now go out and find that stuff!