Wolfram|Alpha is not a search engine — it’s a computational knowledge engine: it generates output by doing computations from its own internal knowledge base, instead of searching the web and returning links.

It is quite a fascinating tool:

click for video

Hat tip B2

Category: R&D, Web/Tech

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19 Responses to “Wolfram Alpha”

  1. impermanence says:

    No matter how sophisticated technology becomes, it always comes down to: distortion in, distortion out. You can’t improve on the human mind. People just need to learn how to use it. Reality in, ???? out.

  2. swag says:

    I asked a stupid question, but got some pretty good answers –

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=how+much+wood+would+a+woodchuck+chuck

  3. i think jim is on this one says:

    Wolfram Alpha is amazing! It gives you nutritional labels if you enter food, and adjusts based on the quantity. Plus, you can stack ingredients to generate a nutritional label for your whole meal- eg, “1 cup oatmeal + 2 tbsp brown sugar + 0.25 cups raisins + 2 cups coffee” will tell you exactly what you ate for breakfast.

  4. mgnagy says:

    @swag:

    A Chuckload.

  5. VennData says:

    Wolfram is a genius, literally.

  6. Thor says:

    Neat demo – asking it real questions though -

    “What is the Muslim population of France?”

    Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure how to compute an answer from your input

    “How many automobiles were sold in the US in 2008?’

    Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure how to compute an answer from your input

    “Average summer temperature in Phoenix”

    No data available.

    Wow that’s super cool! :P

  7. gloppie says:

    Thanks for this, Barry !

  8. Invictus says:

    Interesting. Will be more interesting still to see how long it takes Google to buy them.

    ~~~

    BR: That was my immediate thought . . .

  9. Thor says:

    Invictus – hah! Good point!

  10. MichaelGat says:

    It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug…

  11. TakBak04 says:

    Very Cool!

    Wonder though if their info can be verified as to how current it is and the source?

    This would be a great help to small businesses everywhere. But, it would cut hiring of part time/full time researchers…so that would be some more job loss due to technology. :-(

    Still…it’s pretty nifty.

  12. hgordon says:

    It’s hit & miss, but can be quite useful -

    “how many employees at goldman sachs”

    Result:
    30067 people (Sunday, November 30, 2008)

    includes nice graph for 2006 through 2009

  13. dsawy says:

    Enter a stock ticker. You’ll see it coughs up some very useful info.

    The kicker for me is that when I entered “arcsin(-2)” I got a result. That’s been one of my favorite questions when I’m interviewing youngsters who think they’re so terribly smart… I used to get all manner of lectures on the range of the sin() function as being “-1..+1″ etc.

    Alpha flips out the correct answer in a blink. Neat stuff.

  14. How do I please a woman?

    Came up with Einstein, Charlemagne and Babe Ruth.

    uhhhh……

    So you have to be a physical genuis? A conquerer or maybe just club them over the head?

  15. solanic says:

    “collateralized debt obligations” = Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure how to compute an answer from your input

    question for you folks:

    if you could have a data base of financial info more transparent – what would the info be ?
    [i'm working on a project]

  16. Deflator Mouse says:

    Daisy, Daisy, give meee yoooouuuurrrrrrrrr annnnnnnnnnsssssssssssswwwwwwwwwwwwerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr dddddddddddddooooooooooooooooooooooooo……………………………….

  17. Maverick1 says:

    I asked: “How long until Google buys Wolfram Alpha?”

    Not the result I wanted:

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=How+long+until+google+buys+wolfram+alpha%3F

    Let’s see if they work on that for leverage with Google/Microsoft/Yahoo

  18. wildebeest says:

    They’ve had a deal with Microsoft since last year. Bing takes some of their results eg.

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=integrate+y^2*cos%28x-y%29^2%2By*sin%28x%29^2+dx

    http://www.bing.com/search?q=integrate+y^2*cos%28x-y%29^2%2By*sin%28x%29^2+dx&form=OSDSRC

    Readers should get a Home Edition copy of Mathematica and play around with it. rrp $295.

  19. ChrisH says:

    Do yourself a favor and ask Wolfram-alpha, “are you skynet?”