Iterative ranking methods predate Google's PageRank algorithm for ranking the importance of Web pages by nearly 60 years, according to "PageRank: Stand on the shoulders of giants," a new study by University of Udine computer scientist Massimo Franceschet. He says economist Wassily W. Leontief discussed an iterative method for ranking industries in a 1941 paper, and Leontief would receive the Nobel Prize for economics for his research in this area in 1973.
In 1965, sociologist Charles Hubbell published an iterative method for ranking people, and scientists Gabriel Pinski and Francis Narin used a circular approach for ranking journals in 1976. In their own paper, Google's Sergey Brin and Larry Page referenced Cornell University computer scientist Jon Kleinberg, who developed the Hypertext Induced Topic Search algorithm for optimizing Web information retrieval.
Google's search engine brings a "popularity contest" style to determining the quality of an item, which has created a debate in academic circles about the evaluation of research papers. "Expert evaluation, the judgment given by peer experts, is intrinsic, subjective, deep, slow and expensive," Franceschet writes. "By contract, network evaluation, the assessment gauged [by] exploiting network topology, is extrinsic, democratic, superficial, fast and low-cost."
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