Wolfram|Alpha: a new computational knowledge engine

A new Web tool, Wolfram | Alpha,  went live on 18th May. It is described as a computational knowledge engine, rather than a search engine like Google. It aims to bring back answers to queries rather than a list of links to websites.

The website states “Wolfram|Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.”

For example:

  • enter France, and it will bring back lots of information and stats related to France.
  • enter France restaurants and it responds “Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input.”

More example searches can be found on the website. It is the brainchild of a British physicist Stephen Wolfram.

The BBC covers it is more detail in its article here, and a summary of responses from the media so far can be found here.

Resourceshelf has a very useful round-up of its features here:
http://www.resourceshelf.com/2009/05/17/fast-facts-anyone-a-brief-users-guide-to-wolframalpha/

Another interesting review here by Nova Spivak:
http://www.twine.com/item/122mz8lz9-4c/wolfram-alpha-is-coming-and-it-could-be-as-important-as-google

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