Search Methods – Elimination

Search Methods – Elimination


Have you ever played the Milton Bradley game “Guess Who?” before? The idea is that you select a character card from among a set of 24 total characters. Then your opponent asks you questions about the person you chose:

  • Are they wearing a hat?
  • Do they have brown hair?
  • Is it a woman?

The two players trade off asking the questions to one another. Each question allows you (as the player asking the question) to start eliminating people from the available group of characters on your flip board (which contains all characters).

When we look at the shopping experience (or more accurately, the discovery process of finding new components when a part number is not known), it starts to look similar. We ask ourselves questions and then begin elimination:

  • Is my component an op amp?
  • Can I live with as much as 1 mV of offset voltage?
  • Will an SOIC8 package suffice?

Most part-seekers go through this process using parametric search columns. You select what you think might be relevant and then look at the laundry list of results. Answering these questions starts to bring you closer and closer to the subset of parts that might fit your needs. Once the major criteria are fulfilled, you start to look at “softer” characteristics of individual components:

  • Are the parts available for immediate ordering?
  • Does the price seem to fit the budget of the project?
  • Is there a good app note available?

Note that depending upon the requirements of the project, the timeline and the style of the person searching for components, the “soft” characteristics listed here may be starting criteria.

What does this process look like though if it escapes the parametric selection? What if you could see more data in one place? What does the ultimate search experience look like for you? Please let us know in the comments?

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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  1. Sigh

    I want a parametric search for every component by every manufacturer.

    Even manufacturers’ parametric searches aren’t good enough. They don’t show prices, they don’t include all the parameters. Sometimes they stupidly lump a bunch of important parameters into a plain text “Description” column because they’re too lazy to make new columns for each. I have to make my own spreadsheets to compare CODECs and ADCs and DACs by different manufacturers, for instance.

    It should be wiki-like, where I can edit a part information, show which column from manufacturer A corresponds to a column from manufacturer B and then everyone else can see it that way.

    Parts should be organized by hierarchical categories, so I can go up in the tree and find all parts by all manufacturers that are similar to what I was looking for, but categories should be like tags, with some parts being in multiple categories.

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