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Has anybody tried Wolfram Alpha? Answered

Wolfram Alpha is a new search engine, just gone online.

It bills itself as a computational search engine - you are supposed to use it to find out information, rather than websites that contain information.

It doesn't know what "Instructables" is, but it can keep track of live data, to give you (for instance) up to date GDPs.

Has anybody else tried it?

Do you have any opinions?


UPDATE: It seems folk are generally unimpressed. Hopefully the feedback will help improve the process.


Yeah, it's pretty sweet. It understands math, unlike google or LIVE. (and I don't mean 2+2, I mean y = 2x2 - 3x + 2 sorta stuff. The first engine (and program, for that matter, that understands variables. (does anybody know of any programs that do it properly?)))

I tried it, thought it was pretty cuil. ;-)

Jeeves, that was a bad pun. Wasn't the original idea for Alpha that it would semantically understand complex queries like "what was the phase of the moon when George Bush Sr. was elected" (because it knows dates of elections and phases of the moon on a given date)?

I like it. It certainly can fill a niche. It took a while to get used to entering the information, but I like the fact that the information it has is concise and actually useful. You don't have to wade through dozen's of people's websites to find what you are looking for. For scientific facts, conversions, dictionary/thesaurus, statistics about things like weather etc. its quite good, for all other type of queries there is Google. Try this in wolfram: "answer to life universe and everything"

. It does take some getting used to. I've bookmarked it so I can try it next time Google pukes up thirty million hits with nothing worthwhile. . Not for every search and not for every searcher, but, when it works, it works very well. . > "answer to life universe and everything" . It got that one right. It can't be all bad. :)

It is not for general searches, it is for finding statistical information on topics such as words, letters, names, countries, mathematical equations, molecular structures, dates and other things. Not really for information that is opinionated, just data, somewhat like choose's robot way back when. To make things easier, tell it what you are searching the words as. (as a name, as a date, as a letter etc.) (psst, try searching "Where" you might get creeped out)


9 years ago

I tried it, it is good for researching data, but not much else. It turned my name into a stock for Nathan's Famous hot dogs but it has a few other cool things (search "88 mph", you may need some knowledge of American movies for it) A lot of the time though you have to tel it what to treat the words as, like "a as a word" "Will as a name"or it might choose something else. And if you want to search for ibles, you have to add the .com, then it tells you all of the sites stats. I am pretty impressed though because I had to research for a country today in school and by using it, I found the answers to over half of the things I needed to know in nice and easy to use raw data. The only things it didn't have were physical features and tourist attractions. Until it gets better I give it a 3 due to the fact that it is only for data about things.

Doesn't seem to do well with complex questions, it can't tell me the difference between an atom and an ion, for example. Although a search for "What is the world's tallest building" didn't work, it suggested "Tallest Building". Needs a bit of work on its natural search string interpretation. It is also a bit slow, although the animated effects help with the wait times Also, interestingly, you can't select any of the results, everything is images. Some kind of homework copy-and-paste prevention technique? It is very informative though, a search for orange gives me Nutrition information, as well as links to switch to results for the colour or the city (In Australia, oddly enough), etc. I like it. Now... how long before Google buys them?

Stephen Wolfram will NEVER sell any of his companies, and I'd be surprised if he even takes anything public. Man has a large ego and is a total control freak. To be sure, he can mostly back it up. A friend of mine worked for him for a while on Mathematica, long ago.

Here I would normally say "Okay, how long until Google copies them" but, considering all the media coverage, that would be a bad move right now.

I asked it how to reverse entropy, no idea... Im sure it will work it out before the end of existance..

"What is the melting point of tungsten" - fine.
"What is the mass of a golf ball?" - no
"How many ningies in a galactic pu?" - no
"Density of neutron star" - yes
Questions relating to the death of Kiteman - stumped.

Has some uses certainly.


I tried it again today (doesn't lock up anymore!) - it seems to do best with purely mathematical inputs, so it's at least a good calculator, but seems to be a poor natural language search engine.

Not impressed. I tried several queries in my own field (particle physics) and got nowhere. The best I got was a trivial overview of the B- meson (mass, width, etc.), but no cross-section or branching fraction data (despite all of it being available and searchable at the PDG). It didn't know supersymmetry, string theory, landscape, etc.

I searched "u suck" and some other things and I confuzled it.