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Where are All Those Hits Coming from?

There are a zillion reasons why different Bible programs may return different results when we run the exact same search. One of them is the way the search engine counts the hits that are being found. For instance, in an AND-type search we could assume that the total number of hits will match the number of search terms (e.g., what AND are AND you AND doing would amount to 4 hits). However, not being an exact search (i.e., the literal string "what are you doing"), there can be more than one occurrence of any of those words in a given verse. This would be the case, for example, in Exodus 18:14 (NIV). The result would then be 7 hits (or matches, if you like - even though we would still have the same 4 different forms). But there is another way of counting, and that is computing hits by permutation. In such case, that verse in Exodus would only return 6 hits (i.e., all the possible combinations of each search term found in the verse). To put it another way, you multiply the number of hits of each separate word and get the amount of permutions.

So, next time you run a search, make sure you know how hits are counted or else you may be in for a little surprise. And how are you supposed to know? Well, THEY should tell you. This is just one of the reasons why user manuals should be really comprehensive.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 6, 2004 6:29 PM.

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