Newly-granted Google patent sheds light on how the search engine sees entities

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big fan of reading Google patents — or, when I’m feeling lazy, reading Bill Slawski’s analysis of them over on his blog, SEO By The Sea.
I also have a particular interest in those involving entities, as they are (to me at least) the ones that are defining the problems Google is trying to solve. As machine learning evolves, entities represent how search engines increasingly are viewing the world.
Before we dig into this latest Google patent, which was granted on December 22, 2016, let’s first define an entity to make sure we’re all on the same page. According to the patent, the definition is as follows:
[A]n entity is a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable. For example, an entity may be a person, place, item, idea, abstract concept, concrete element, other suitable thing, or any combination thereof.
To keep things simple, you can casually think of an entity

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