Wolfram Alpha

I’ve been doing this job (teaching IT management, not blogging) for so long that I first heard of Google when a student told me about this (then very new) wonderful search engine. Since then, at least one student per year has told me about another wonderful new search engine and none of them are household names. Cuil was last year’s novelty, and Vivisimo, the company that created a search engine called Clusty, was another from a few years ago.

So it’ll be interesting to see what happens to Wolfram Alpha, described at http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/mar/09/search-engine-google

It’s now attracted the attention of the BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2009/05/does_wolfram_work.html – note the point made by several commenters that, whatever it is, it isn’t a search engine that’ll put Google out of business

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2 Responses to “Wolfram Alpha”

  1. Saivignesh Says:

    Hi Martin,

    I had used “Wolfram Research, Mathematics v 5.0”, the ‘Wolfram Alpha’ is nothing much different from it. The scope has widen from mathematical operations such as calculus, algebra to Business Statistics (eg:- IBM apple).

    What I understood from the articles and the comment was the wolfram alpha would definitely bring a different dimension to search engine. In google, the principle of learning (Concept of Artificial Intelligence) is used which looks on several databases or servers and provides a wide range of results. This is subjected to the input we give and as a part of the learning process it learns what the user wants and refine the results as per the users needs.

    But I guess it is different in Alpha where it works with a couple of algorithms. The concept of learning and a user centered system is absolutely nil the user needs to learn the way to communicate with the system. People have always used google because it is simple and the alpha is quite a different thing which people are not used of. This would be a major failure of Alpha only because it is different. Over a period of developement, google and alpha would be like windows and linux.

    Wolfram Alpha will not actually serve the purpose of a search engine because, it just brings the application such as Mathematica online for users in a wide scope. To conclude, Alpha will not supersede Google but will be a good competitor.

  2. martinrich Says:

    I think the BBC dot.life piece possibly does Wolfram Alpha a disservice by suggesting that it’s useful as a way of finding out general knowledge/trivia . In direct contrast to the doctor participating in the BBC piece, who got answers to his dughter’s questions about Tutankhamun from Wolfram Alpha, I failed to get an answer to a simple but obscure trivia question from my son: what was the first country in Africa to change its name on independence?

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