We are very grateful to the NLnet foundation for their award designed to our new PeARS project, codename Fruit Fly. We have received funding in the amount of 15,000 EUR under the umbrella of the NGI Zero programme, to support two research assistants.
It is widely believed that Web search engines require immense resources to operate, making it impossible for individuals to explore alternatives to the dominant information retrieval paradigms. [The PeARS project](https://pearsproject.org/) aims at changing this view by providing search tools that can be used by anyone to index and share Web content on specific topics. The focus is specifically on designing algorithms that will run on entry-level hardware, producing compact but semantically rich representations of Web documents. In this project, we will use a cognitively-inspired algorithm to produce queryable representations of Web pages in a highly efficient and transparent manner. The proposed algorithm is a hashing function inspired by the olfactory system of the fruit fly, which has already been used in other computer science applications and is recognised for its simplicity and high efficiency. We will implement and evaluate the algorithm on the task of document retrieval. It will then be integrated into a Web application aimed at supporting the growing practice of 'digital gardening', allowing users to research and categorise Web content related to their interests, without requiring access to centralised search engines.
Update on the project's status can be found on our GitHub Wiki. We will also post news on this blog as we work towards the various goals of the project. A technical introduction to the Fruit Fly Algorithm can be found here.