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WolframAlpha – Stunning when it can return results

There is a lot of buzz on the internet about Wolfram Alpha. It is an old concept with a stunning development: take knowledge and make it computable with computer algorithms. Difficult, but possible.

I do not intend to explain what Wolfram Alpha is – it is worth a look for anybody. What I need to point out before you check it out is that is no magic wand, yet. There are lots of things it cannot tell you because it was not designed, and many it should, but still cannot.

Queries often need to be reworded, specially when dealing with maths and facts. A search about ‘voltage controlled oscillators’ brings up the rather more than acceptably frequent “Wolfram Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input”. The query ‘fastest man on earth’ should be easily computable as the current 100m Olympic sprint champion (Usain Bolt), but Wolfram Alpha is not sure. Google, though, brings you good results.

But let that not put you off. When it brings results, they are awesome. See them to believe. There are plenty of sample queries on the Wolfram Alpha home page.

It is still a phenomenal achievement, and will be more so when Google pulls off something similar with Google Squared. And THAT should be a sight to behold – all of Google’s info converted to knowledge.

But for what it’s worth, Wolfram will always be known as the pioneer of the idea. And Wolfram Alpha is worth a look.

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