If you were to use a standard Web search engine and search for the word "sap," it is likely that most of the results would pertain to a particular software vendor whose products are used for enterprise resource planning (ERP) and business intelligence (BI).However, let's assume that you are a high school student doing a science report on maple syrup. You are less interested in tracking inventory and more interested in how maple tree sap is used to make food products. Or, perhaps you are not interested in ERP or in botany, but rather in nineteenth-century police equipment. In fact, there are a number of other areas of interest that use the "sap" character string. In any of these cases, in order to garner appropriate references, you would have to add phrases (such as "tree" for the maple syrup, or "blackjack" for the police weaponry) to try to weed out inappropriate results.

By providing additional phrases, you hope to limit the search to those pages whose information reflects the co-occurrence of the different words. By doing so, you are transcending the boundary between syntactic searching and semantic searching. Syntactic searching is based on finding all references embedding a particular string of characters bounded by white space ­– no meaning is implied at all. By providing two (or more) character strings, you are asserting a meaningful relationship between the concepts associated with those character strings, even though the distinction is irrelevant to the search engine. This simple introduction of meaning into the search can significantly narrow the results to those that are relevant, which ultimately improves the searching experience.

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