WolframAlpha has been generating a low-frequency buzz lately. A lot of people might have heard it’s coming but still have no idea what it is. A lot of people hear that it’s a new search engine, but it’s more than that. Still others, have not heard about it at all.
What is WolframAlpha and why is it worth getting excited?
According to Wolfram’s blog, WolframAlpha is a computational knowledge engine. What does that mean?
First, WolframAlpha is built off of Mathematica, so it can compute the normal results that you’d get back into meaningful data or the comparisons that you are requesting. You can read more about how WolframAlpha takes advantage of the power of Mathematica with this WolframAlpha blog article.
Secondly, WolframAlpha appears to have very high-level language or natural language abilities. That means you can talk to it just like you’d talk to another human. Instead of having to format your query, use special commands, or even code you can just state your inquiry and WolframAlpha will parse it down to get your answer.
The biggest difference (and welcome change) for WolframAlpha is that it provides answers versus pages. With WA, you’ll get facts and calculations versus pages with related content that might answer your questions.
“You said something about mad scientists. What about us, I mean, them?”
WolframAlpha pulls a lot of information from a lot of places and puts it at your fingertips. Research on the Internet is easy and authoritative again. The resource is indicated at the bottom of every result.
It’s not just for mad scientists, but for everybody that does any sort of research. Many search queries in Google and Yahoo! will count as research perfectly suited (if not, more suited) for WolframAlpha. Librarians, journalists, scientists, mathematicians, students, and many more groups of people should add WolframAlpha to their repertoire of tools at their disposal. This is a search engine uncommercialized and tailor
See it in Action
Watch a very interesting screencast with Stephen Wolfram, to see all of the types of information WolframAlpha can pull up and make useful. This thing does it all! From worldwide facts to chemistry to genetics to even a crossword solver!
Of course, we’ll have to see how it handles traditional “problematic” math numbers.
WolframAlpha will be made available publicly in a matter of minutes and will undergo infrastructure testing throughout the weekend. On Monday, if everything goes well, it is expected to officially launch. There are rumors about a paid, professional version going around, but I haven’t found anything to base these rumors on.
This is an unbiased article. I do not work for Wolfram Research, Inc. (although I wouldn’t mind doing so, they are based in the same town I live in… email@example.com, just in case).
Check out WolframAlpha as it launches tonight and see the live webcast of the launch itself.
Update: Check it out before the launch.