Phrase identification in search engines

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I'm looking for ways to increase the relevance of an information
retrieval system by automatically forming phrases from entered
keywords: e.g. if the user enters John Doe (without quotes), instead
of searching for John AND Doe, the system should be able to see that
John Doe is a name, and then search for "John Doe" (or even for
"J. Doe", "Doe John", and so on). This should work also for place
names and common nouns (like "apple pie"). I could use named entity
recognition methods, but I'd like to know if I can find documentation
on this topic (I didn't find anything with Google) or if efficient
methods have been implemented.


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