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Salesforce Launches New COVID-19 search engine


According to Salesforce, the number of scientific papers published on COVID-19 skyrocketed from 29,000 to more than 138,000 between February to May 2020. As people around the world step up to help, the number will continue to grow exponentially, with projections to increase to more than one million by the end of 2020.

Salesforce believes scientists and researchers on the frontline of the pandemic should not have to spend their time digging through thousands of pages of COVID-19 research. So, Salesforce Research introduced COVID-19 Search, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered search engine to equip scientists and researchers with the most relevant COVID-19 research. It is designed to help users sort through the clutter to make complicated research information easier to find.

The tool combines neural semantic search AI and traditional syntactic search AI to help scientists, researchers and others be more efficient with their research by providing a more efficient way to find and filter out information.

Searching scientific publications requires different techniques from traditional keyword-matching search engines. It's critical that a COVID-19 search engine interpret the proper meaning in a given search, going beyond finding results based on the frequency with which words appear in documents. And with long documents, it's valuable to quickly surface relevant passages in search results.

COVID-19 Search addresses this by combining text retrieval and natural language processing (NLP), including semantic search, state-of-the-art question answering, and abstractive summarization to better understand the question and surface the most relevant scientific results.

To train the search engine, the Salesforce researchers split scientific publications into pairs of paragraphs and citations that could be used to train algorithms to determine if the title of a citation was referenced by a paragraph. The same AI can be used to take a query and find paragraphs in a document set that address it.

If an answer is contained in any single document, COVID-19 Search can re-rank the document list to surface the document. With the threat of a second wave of infections, there is a new sense of urgency for ways to help mitigate and cure COVID-19. Humanity needs cures, vaccines, and solutions. And, COVID-19 Search can empower scientists on the front lines to accomplish those tasks faster.

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