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What is a Federated Search?

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  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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A federated search is a computer software approach for querying multiple data sets with a single query request. This is commonly used to access company information on specific data or products. A federated query is relatively simple to implement and provides quick access to multiple data sets in a combined reporting format.

The federated search is one of the most basic methods of accessing data from multiple databases. This saves time because one search query can be automatically executed across many data sets. Most search engines execute a form of federated search across the Internet. These engines can evaluate multiple sources with a single request, making information readily available.

The popular Google® search engine is an example of a federated query that reads unstructured data across the Internet. This federated search engine provides quick results of diverse data sets. Federated queries use special indexing techniques that enable data to be sorted and returned quickly.

Funnelback® is an example of a searching tool that uses federated search. This tool can read both structured and unstructured data contained in multiple databases. This search tool is similar to a standard indexing search engine that reads data based on specific search criteria and returns it in a single, sorted view.

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One of the primary drawbacks to a federated search is the overload of information that is returned from this type of query. When a federated query is executed across multiple sources of data, thousands of records may be returned. This causes too much data to be returned, which make it irrelevant.

A federated search system will typically return thousands of records on a single query. This requires a special business algorithm to return the most relevant data at the top of the list. There are several techniques that can be used for sorting relevant data. These are typically based on data accuracy, usage, and correlation to other relevant information within the data.

Many commercial tools help companies build federated search functions. These tools typically include special software connectors and interfaces that enable the connection of diverse data sets. Integrating these federated search tools requires an expert understanding of databases and data access techniques.

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