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Re: Re: Text search within a documentation page?

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  • Subject: [mg90879] Re: [mg90865] Re: Text search within a documentation page?
  • From: Murray Eisenberg <murray at>
  • Date: Sun, 27 Jul 2008 02:33:03 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: Mathematics & Statistics, Univ. of Mass./Amherst
  • References: <g670lq$s3a$> <g69fvk$ii1$> <g6c9dg$c12$> <>
  • Reply-to: murray at

This is the same sort of issue one faces with, say, a Google search -- 
except that in Google one can use has additional parameters
  to narrow down the domain, time, etc.

I was going to say that Google also allows AND, OR, and NOT whereas the 
Mathematica Documentation Center Search does not.  But I discovered to 
my surprise that these connectives work in the latter, too!  For example:

   plot AND NOT Sin

does NOT list the reference page for Plot (at least among the first 150 
items in the result that I examined).  And

   plot OR EllipticF

returns pages for both "plot" and "EllipticF".

So perhaps some drilling down can be accomplished by adding some AND or 
AND NOT phrase to the end of the item in the search bar after you get 
too long a list of results.

Does Mathematica do a full-text search already?  If not, the search does 
seem often to pick up quite a few instances of a supplied phrase within 
the body of pages whose links are returned.

AES wrote:
> ... The real question, it seems to me, is, what good _at all_ are these 
> online Search Pages?  If you search on a term, you frequently get Search 
> Result pages that contain 100s to 1000s of links, extending over many 
> 10s of further screenfuls or pages.  
> How can one proceed further at that point?  Is there any way to drill 
> down further into these very long Search Result lists _efficiently_?  If 
> they were structured as one immensely long page, one could at least both 
> rapidly page down using the Page Down key, to scan all the entries, or 
> more efficiently jump down to relevant entries using the Find command -- 
> but I don't find any way to do either of these.
> Notes to WRI's documentation people...:
> 2)  As someone who does a fair amount of searching in documentation, I 
> make every effort to capture on my own HD PDF files of the full manuals 
> or books about software I use (or other technologies or subjects I'm 
> studying; and then often find that the most efficient way to search for 
> information on some topic is just to open one of these documents and do 
> a pure linear full text search in Acrobat.
> This is very often much better than going to the index of the document.  
> Indexes can be helpful on paper, much less helpful on screen: too much 
> awkward jumping back and forth between index and main text.  And even 
> with good intentions, doing a good job of indexing is hard.  With the 
> linear text search you may have to divert your attention to something 
> else for a few moments, while Acrobat grinds its way through a 500-page 
> manual --  but when you get a "hit", you're very often "there" (at the 
> info you want), or have seredipitously learned something useful related 
> to your search.

Murray Eisenberg                     murray at
Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
Lederle Graduate Research Tower      phone 413 549-1020 (H)
University of Massachusetts                413 545-2859 (W)
710 North Pleasant Street            fax   413 545-1801
Amherst, MA 01003-9305

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