Thursday, December 16, 2010

Google Books Ngram Viewer -- Chess Searches

Google launched a new service today called Google Books Ngram Viewer.  It allows you to see how the frequency of different words changes over time in the millions of books that Google has scanned and digitized.

You can graph the trends for a single word or compare different words.  For example, the following diagram compares the frequency of the terms "chess" and "baseball" between 1800 and 2008:
It shows that references to chess have remained fairly steady, while references to baseball climbed dramatically around 1880-1920, held steady until 1970, took off again until just past 2000, and then declined in the last few years.

Here is another example, comparing references to "checkmate" and "touchdown":

I also ran some searches involving the names of chess world champions, realizing that I would have to avoid champions with common names, because they would produce too many "hits" that were actually references to somebody else.

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