Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th May 2009 22:29 UTC
Web 2.0 The data search and computation engine Wolfram Alpha has gone live. The web-based application, which is billed as a 'computational knowledge engine', went live for testing on Friday and was officially launched on Monday. "Fifty years ago, when computers were young, people assumed that they'd be able to ask a computer any factual question, and have it compute the answer," Stephen Wolfram, the founder and chief executive of Wolfram Research, said in a statement. "I'm happy to say that we've successfully built a system that delivers knowledge from a simple input field, giving access to a huge system, with trillions of pieces of curated data and millions of lines of algorithms."
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Comment by merkoth
by merkoth on Mon 18th May 2009 23:52 UTC
Member since:

What an amazing piece of software! Sure, it needs a lot of work, but as a software developer myself, I just can't imagine the amount of work that has been put into this project. Still, it doesn't show my birthday as something relevant, which should be fixed ASAP ;-)

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by merkoth
by Brunis on Tue 19th May 2009 06:18 UTC in reply to "Comment by merkoth"
Brunis Member since:

Still, it doesn't show my birthday as something relevant, which should be fixed ASAP ;-)

like what? a very important moment in time? ;)

Reply Score: 1

by JrezIN on Tue 19th May 2009 14:09 UTC
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It's really disappointing... not really the software features, but how much limited it is... all output is "protected" in image format, so you can't actually use them (and they don't load most of the time now...).

search add-ons to browsers/homepages can't really do anything besides moving you to a WA's web page (no web2.0 cookie for you!)..., in the end I'm really disappointed that even if the software looks very interesting and promising (besides different outputs for the same input, probably duo these "protections"), but the user experience looks like the last concerning for them... makes it kind useless...

Reply Score: 3

RE: disappointing
by evert on Tue 19th May 2009 17:38 UTC in reply to "disappointing"
evert Member since:

Agreed. But I just found out that you can download the search results as PDF. And in the PDF, the text is real text.

Reply Score: 2

RE: disappointing
by navaraf on Tue 19th May 2009 20:00 UTC in reply to "disappointing"
navaraf Member since:

It offers the same data as plain text that is copyable when you click on an image or a table.

Of course it would be preferable to use SVG and MathML to present it in the first place, but maybe that will come in future too.

Reply Score: 1

not impressed... so far
by crossbones on Tue 19th May 2009 19:29 UTC
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perhaps i am using it wrong, but it dosen't seem to really work for me. It seems like it will only have a response to highly expected inquiries. 'the USA GDP' will yield a result but try finding out economic stats for USSR in the 80s are. I also tried to get it to tell me how to make cookies- another failure. I really hope that this is just a taste of whats to come, else wise its a POS flop.

Reply Score: 1

RE: not impressed... so far
by navaraf on Tue 19th May 2009 20:10 UTC in reply to "not impressed... so far"
navaraf Member since:

The USSR GDP is missing in their database, but it's not much of a wonder, since only objectively verifiable data are supposed to be there.

I also tried to get it to tell me how to make cookies- another failure.

That's what Google is for. This isn't supposed to replace Google, it applies known algorithms to objectively verifiable data where queries are entered as natural sentence (possibly with some additional assumptions). It can tell you what the cookie is made of and it knows more than 20 cookie types, but it can't tell you how to make it.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Jondice
by Jondice on Wed 20th May 2009 08:47 UTC
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not good

Reply Score: 1

No precursors?
by wannabe geek on Wed 20th May 2009 15:15 UTC
wannabe geek
Member since:

From the Wolfram FAQ:

What is the closest precursor to Wolfram|Alpha?

In concept, perhaps Leibniz's characteristica universalis from the late 1600s—or the science-fiction computers of the 1960s. Technologically, many pieces of Wolfram|Alpha have precursors, but the ambitious scope of the whole project is believed to be unique.

Oh, come on. What about Cyc?

Reply Score: 2