Wolfram Alpha Is Live - gHacks Tech News

Wolfram Alpha Is Live

There has been a lot of talk about this new search engine by Wolfram which many called a Google killer.

The strange thing was that this happened without anyone being able to test the search engine. It finally is available now on the Internet, and anyone interested in the search engine may use it to find out how well it performs, and how it compares against other popular search engines.

The start page of the search engine lists a search form, and a hint at what it does, and what it does not do ("Enter what you want to calculate or know about").

The very same page lists examples of what Wolfram Alpha can do. If you click on math for instance, you are taken to the mathematics examples page that lists functions that are supported by the search engine. You do find basic arithmetic functions there, but also advanced functions like solving equations, computing an integral, or getting information on famous math problems.

Wolfram Alpha

wolfram alpha

The functionality of Wolfram Alpha was described in the following way on the initial homepage of the search engine:

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.

It highlights the core difference between Wolfram Alpha and classic search engines such as Google Search or Bing.  The goal of Wolfram|Alpha is not to index as many pages as possible. It clearly states that they want to collect and curate objective data only which limits the search range drastically.

It shines when it comes to search queries like "weather berlin germany june 3, 1988", "next solar ecplipse" or "us deficit" although it largely depends on how the search request is entered.

A search for "current us deficit" for example will not yield any results at all while the "us deficit" query will display results.

The search engine is in alpha stage and it is very likely that it will improve over time.

Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels. Our goal is to accept completely free-form input, and to serve as a knowledge engine that generates powerful results and presents them with maximum clarity.

Wolfram|Alpha is an ambitious, long-term intellectual endeavor that we intend will deliver increasing capabilities over the years and decades to come. With a world-class team and participation from top outside experts in countless fields, our goal is to create something that will stand as a major milestone of 21st century intellectual achievement.

Verdict

It is a Google Killer? No, definitely not. It does however provide better results than other search engines for results that can be computed mathematically, or are based on facts.

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    Comments

    1. Martin said on May 16, 2009 at 1:46 pm
      Reply

      The search engine is experiencing a heavy load currently.

    2. Ivo Cerckel said on May 16, 2009 at 2:09 pm
      Reply

      “It clearly states that they want to collect and curate objective data only which limits the search range drastically”

      What’s objective?

      Yes, logic is an arcane science.

      Censorship is not even a science, think.

      Truth is ad-equation between the thing and the intellect (adaequatio rei et intellectus), said Thomas Aquinas.

      A lot will depend, I think, on whether the various sources from which the search engine will calculate the results and give the answers will have been filtered,
      that is,
      whether some sites will have been blocked, like Google does,
      or whether the intellect will be allowed to be freely led to the conclusions to which its inferences lead the intellect.

      “It clearly states that they want to collect and curate objective data only which limits the search range drastically”

      When they arrive at so-called evidences, most people substitute reasoning with faith or belief.

      Will the engine also do that, thereby refusing to think mathematically or rather refusing to think logically?

      Next question is of course: How come the conclusions of the intellect, such as E=MC2, are applicable in or to reality? I don’t yet know the answer to that question but I am “only” 47 years old. And who knows, Wolfram Alpha may have the answer.

      “It clearly states that they want to collect and curate objective data only which limits the search range drastically”

    3. MKR said on May 16, 2009 at 3:19 pm
      Reply

      “What’s objective?”

      A = 2l + 2w is objective.

      “How much area is too much?” is subjective.

    4. Ivo Cerckel said on May 16, 2009 at 4:00 pm
      Reply

      Tax is theft, is that objective or subjective?

      No,
      the thief does not come back periodically,
      nor does he pretend to be stealing in the public interest

    5. MKR said on May 16, 2009 at 4:05 pm
      Reply

      I don’t think that’s the sort of question this thing is meant to answer. It provides output from data based on a query. The objectivity depends on the methods used in the research that produced the data.

    6. Ivo Cerckel said on May 16, 2009 at 4:10 pm
      Reply

      Check your data.

    7. MKR said on May 16, 2009 at 4:21 pm
      Reply

      Are you trying to make a point?

    8. Ivo Cerckel said on May 16, 2009 at 4:22 pm
      Reply

      Do you think life is a joke?

    9. MKR said on May 16, 2009 at 4:23 pm
      Reply

      You’re either phenomenally dense or some sort of spambot.

    10. archer said on May 16, 2009 at 7:57 pm
      Reply

      search “future shock”:
      wolfram; zero results,
      google; 177,000,000 results

    11. archer said on May 16, 2009 at 7:59 pm
      Reply

      edit feature appears to be broken. couldn’t correct my typo from futrue to future

    12. MKR said on May 16, 2009 at 8:00 pm
      Reply

      archer, don’t forget that feedback box down at the bottom. If you find a failure and think it should return something, tell them. :)

    13. Ivo Cerckel said on May 17, 2009 at 12:41 am
      Reply

      MKR ,

      I am a refugee from Belgium.

      I entered “Belgium”.

      Here’s part of what I got:
      languages | Dutch (40%) | French (35%) | Walloon (9.7%) | Vlaams (9.2%) | Limburgisch (5.2%)

      Yes, it’s been nine years that I had to flee from there,
      but the latter three languages simply do NOT exist.
      Yes, some (most?) people who speak Dutch say they speak Vlaams.
      Some others (French speakers) may say they speak Walloon.
      But you will be very hard pressed to meet somebody, except a student perhaps, who says she speaks Limburgisch.
      But my information is nine years old, of course.
      And I am either phenomenally dense or some sort of spambot.

      I don’t accept Wolfram Alpha as a source.

      This is not curating data.
      This is creating data.

      The engine does not even mention that the official (not just spoken like Vlaams, Walloon and … Limburgisch) language of six villages in Belgium is German.

      But I am either phenomenally dense or some sort of spambot.

    14. archer said on May 17, 2009 at 4:43 am
      Reply

      thanks. it actually worked fine. just have to reload the page to see the edit changes.

    15. MKR said on May 17, 2009 at 2:12 pm
      Reply

      Ivo, I’m going to assume your English comprehension is just not very good. You have completely missed my point.

    16. Roman ShaRP said on May 19, 2009 at 5:20 pm
      Reply

      1) It doesn’t understand some languages at all (Russian, for example)
      2) But it gave pretty good forecast for on the “weather in Kiev” inquiry

      So – I’m agree with you:
      It is a Google Killer? No, definitely not. It does however provide better results than other search engines for results that can be computed mathematically.

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