Boolean Searching – Basic Principals
Boolean operators form the basis of database search logic.
- They connect your search words together to either narrow or broaden your set of results
- The three basic boolean operators are: AND, OR, and NOT
Why use Boolean searching?
- To focus a search, particularly when your search contains multiple search terms
- To connect various pieces of information to find exactly what you’re looking for
programmer (title) AND Java (skill)
Note: boolean searches are not case sensitive
Use AND in a search to:
- narrow your results
- tell the database that ALL search terms must be present in the resulting records
- example: Oracle AND Java AND London
The central triangle in the middle of the Venn diagram below represents the “Hits” result set for this search.
It is a small set using AND, the combination of all three search words.
Be aware: In Tracker, the AND is not implied so words and phrases are treated differently.
- For example, Oracle Java automatically treats this as an entire search term and will not imply an AND in between
- Therefore although all your search terms are included in the results, they may not be connected together in the way you want so Oracle AND Java should be used
- So, this search: Oracle Java is translated to: “Oracle Java”
- You can search using phrases to make your results more specific if this is required by enclosing the phrase in double quotes (“)
- example: “Senior Programmer” AND Oracle AND Java
- This way, the phrases show up in the results as you expect them to be alongside single words where not double quotes are required
Use OR in a search to:
- connect two or more similar concepts (synonyms)
- broaden your results, telling the database that ANY of your search terms can be present in the resulting records
- example: Oracle OR Java OR London
All three circles represent the result set for this search. It is a big set because any of those words are valid using the OR operator.
Use NOT in a search to:
- exclude words from your search
- narrow your search, telling the database to ignore concepts that may be implied by your search terms
- example: Oracle NOT Microsoft
TrackerRMS follows commands you type in and return results based on those commands.
Be aware of the logical order in which words are connected when using Boolean operators:
- TrackerRMS recognises AND as the primary operator, and will connect concepts with AND together first
- If you use a combination of AND and OR operators in a search, enclose the words to be “ORed” together in parentheses to logically split them from the AND
- programmer AND (Java OR Oracle)
- (program* OR develop*) AND (Java OR Oracle)
- “Senior Programmer” AND (Java OR Oracle) AND London AND NOT Microsoft