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WolframAlpha, Your research resource tool.

Sep14

Written by:
2009/09/14 10:07 AM RssIcon

wolframalphaFour Months ago, around about May, Wolfram|Alpha launched as a search engine for structured data. Wolfram Alpha, founded by Stephen Wolfram, is designed around good old-fashioned computing. Of course, other search engines have been computing for years. But WolframAlpha is slightly different. It’s young and ambitious and I suspect will go a long way.

Wolfram Alpha's main aim is to make knowledge and facts available to everyone and is presented in the simplest manner possible.

The answer computing capability of this engine has been applauded all over the internet and many leading websites touted it as the next Google or the Google killer. This I doubt very much, as the two are so very different in their approach and appeal. It’s like comparing a screwdriver to a hammer.

WolframAlpha already draws on more than two decades of work on the technical computing application Mathematica, the flagship product of Wolfram Research. The application is well-known in academic circles, where it is used to perform complex calculations, manipulate data and create graphs and visualisations, but the average internet user is probably not aware of it.

Alpha doesn't search the web; it queries and performs calculations on about 10 trillion pieces of mathematical, geometric, financial, chemical, historical and astronomical data. The data sets are curated by Wolfram Research and have been available in Mathematica

WolframAlpha-GDP-South-Africa

WolframAlpha is not perfect and still needs a lot of work. However, I believe it will get there. The guys at WolframAlpha haven't just sat back and hoped WolframAlpha will take off. No, they've been hard at work attempting to improve upon their search offering.

Most of the work has centred around two things:

  • Things that searchers want that Wolfram|Alpha doesn't know yet
  • Questions that Wolfram|Alpha doesn't understand (aka linguistics)

Here's what else the WolframAlpha team has been up to - all of this since launch:

  • Codebase has grown by a staggering 52%--adding well over 2 million lines of Mathematica code.
  • Classified 54,233 of feedbacks as bugs or suggestions. Of these, 31,006 are now in the implementation queue, consolidated to about 5800 to-do items.
  • 3,907 people who have submitted bugs have been told they've been fixed.
  • To-do list has grown from 250 per week to 600 per week.

Here is a demo video and the full version video you can watch and understand what WolframAlpha can do.

Why don’t you give WolframAlpha a quick whirl and let us know your thoughts.

Related Reading:

WolframAlpha, Your research resource tool.

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Re: WolframAlpha, Your research resource tool.

I did use it a few times when it first came out, must try again now and see how it's going.

By Mike CJ on  2009/09/14 04:58 PM
 
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