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". 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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