Award for New Google-Style Search Engine

June 15, 2012
School of Engineering, Coimbatore

Amrita alumnus Santhosh Kumar Balakrishnan recently won an award from Google for building a Google-style search engine from scratch.


Santhosh graduated from Amrita’s Coimbatore campus in 2007, with a BTech degree in Computer Science and Engineering. Currently pursuing his masters’ degree in Algorithms, Database and Software Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, he teamed up with class-mates Dhruv Arya, Saurabh Garg and Chetan Singh for the winning project.

The students titled their winning search engine, Hitchhiker. It included special search capabilities for the visually challenged; herein the user could perform the search entirely with spoken commands.

The search engine also featured page previews and included a safe search option to filter out any unwanted results.


The students built this search engine as part of their Internet and Web Systems class, taught by Professor Andreas Haeberlen. “This project incorporated several exciting practical assignments that supplemented the theory we learned in class,” Santhosh shared.

Santhosh explained more about his cloud–based search engine, Hitchhiker.

“Hitchhiker consists of a scalable distributed crawler that runs on Amazon cloud computing platform instances. It uses FreePastry an open-source implementation of peer-to-peer applications, for coordination, an indexer and a PageRank engine that is based on Elastic MapReduce and a web frontend,” he said.

Each member of the team won a Google Nexus S mobile phone as the prize.

Reminiscing about his time in Amrita University, Santhosh shared, “Amrita truly has a world-class curriculum. Here at Pennsylvania, for many of my classes, the books used were familiar to me, as I had encountered them earlier during my BTech studies at Amrita.”

“Thus I definitely had an advantage over other students in my class. I would say that the lessons learned and the knowledge gained during my BTech studies were what motivated me for wanting to do an MS,” he added.

His advice to his juniors and budding engineers, currently enrolled in BTech programs: If you wish to learn more in the field of computer science, obtaining an MS (Master of Science) degree is the best way.

Amrita congratulates Santhosh for his achievements and wishes him the best of luck so that he may continue to excel.


On Cloud Nine

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