So Much for A Quiet Launch

May 8, 2009
The Wolfram|Alpha Launch Team
Posted by

As part of our testing, for a short time yesterday we opened up access to a small test cluster that was being used for load testing. Within minutes, thousands of people discovered this and started exploring Wolfram|Alpha.

People connected to the Wolfram|Alpha test cluster from all over the world


(We recognize Cape Town, Delhi, Tokyo, Lima, Rio de Janeiro… We’re not quite so sure about the spot in the heart of the Australian desert.)

In any case, we’re continuing our final preparations. We plan to launch late next week, with the official date now set for May 18.

Thanks for all of your encouragement!


I AM DYING TO USE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Just kidding about selling my soul. I’m not that Faustian. But other than that . . .)
OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Bill Coyne May 8, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Why don`t you let us testing until official launch ? :) Is was so amazing ,but it worked only for a short time … :( i was so fustrated…. but is good to know that you let us know the launch date !!! I can`t wait ! Expectations are quite big in Romania for the launch of Wolfram Alpha !

Posted by Ionut Danet May 8, 2009 at 2:03 pm

you must have put it online for short segments throughout the day… i wouldn’t expect both north america and europe to be so packed and still have a reasonable amount in south asia and australia… unless people stay up all night refreshing the page in anticipation of a secret launch!

Posted by Mohammad Shahab May 8, 2009 at 2:10 pm

I have an excellent idea for you, please contact me if you are interested.

Best regards.

Alberto Patat

Posted by Alberto May 8, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I would like to hear your idea, Mr. Patat.

    Posted by Matt May 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Dear Friends
Well, we have to expect soon after to see a serious improvement in the way people deal with every day matters.
Of course we all know that nothing will substitute reasoning and mathematical thinking.
I wish I had the chance to begin developing a sophisticated application as a part of the team as volunteer.
May be internet will make it possible.

Posted by Reza Besharati May 8, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    No Reza,

    I don’t think Wolfram Alpha is only about improving the way people deal with every day matters.

    I think it has more to do with achieving the Truth, that is, said Thomas Aquinas, ad-equation between the thing and the intellect (adaequatio rei et intellectus).

    A lot will depend, I think, on whether the various sources from which the 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.

    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.

    “Mathematica”, the symbolic language which Dr Stephen Wolfram created, would allow the user to express complex computational processes in a fluid, intuitive way, thereby calculating answers instead of just returning search results.

    Posted by Ivo Cerckel May 8, 2009 at 8:17 pm

      Dear Ivo
      What I am trying to say is that Wolfram Alpha will pave the way toward people being more concerned about facts not information which leads them to those facts.
      Likewise Mathematica itself ,which was developed to leave the task of intuitive mathematical reasoning more at hand for non genius people also possible.
      I am greatly sympathetic regarding what Dr. Wolfram is doing since I wish someday people from my home country will be able to be part of the equation too.
      I will believe in this till the end of life.
      And I this this will be a giant leap to be more close to unified way of harnessing the knowledge which were accumulated by human being during the last five centuries of so.

      Posted by Reza Besharati May 9, 2009 at 4:13 pm

        Dear Reza,

        Wolfram Alpha can answer questions like how high is Mt Everest, what is the fish production in Italy, and what was the weather in London on the day John F Kennedy was killed. But because it relies on verified data in its system rather than an ad hoc search of the internet, there are BIG GAPS IN ITS KNOWLEDGE, especially in pop culture and information that frequently changes, such as film showings. (1)

        The engine answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from STRUCTURED data. (2)

        Let’s see how the “structurers” of these data have filled the gaps.

        It seems to me that they have had a wide freedom to fill these gaps. Perhaps, they even abused that freedom. I don’t say they did abuse it. Lemme see!

        Best regards,

        “Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for …”
        (John Lennon)

        Inventor unveils Internet’s big, new knowledge engine
        9 May 2009, 1022 hrs IST, AGENCIES

        Wolfram Alpha Computational Knowledge Engine
        Sunday, May 10, 2009

        Posted by Ivo Cerckel May 10, 2009 at 6:27 am

From all of the all the red dots around the world, looks like you will be adding lots of Dell and Cisco equipment sooner than expected. Amazing interest. Wanted to be in the test group, but alas….maybe I’ll get to use it next week? Meanwhile, will a listing of all the various data sources and tables be available? That would help us predetermine and define our queries. And will the output reports show the date of the last upload of actual data sources used in individual calculations and answers? With a project like this, there should be no such thing as too much information. Thanks, looking forward to the launch.

Posted by Bob D. May 8, 2009 at 2:13 pm

The town in the centre of Australia is Alice Springs.
Clearly there’s a need for Wolfram/Alpha to be given ways to input pictoral data ;)

Posted by Leo Morgan May 8, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    The dot is not in the center so not Alice Springs. Looks more like opal towns: mintabie or coober pedy.

    Posted by Mike May 8, 2009 at 4:25 pm

I’ve been checking it a couple of times a day and I must have missed it. It must have not been opened for very long. My first question will be when will the Moon break from orbit? This is based on the fact the moon is slowly moving farther away each year.

Posted by Ron May 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm

You did cause quite a fuss. You do deserve it though. Best of luck.

PS. If Google makes an offer, accept it.

Posted by reg4c May 8, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Well actually I wouldn’t accept it- Wolfram Alpha is a great hope at stopping the supremacy of Google! But I suppose if the terms were such that Google’s ownership wouldn’t inflict upon the quality and maintenance of WA…

    Posted by Robo May 9, 2009 at 7:21 am

I disagree, do not sale out to Google. Both companies will be better of being separate.
But Google should index Alpha’s inquiries and offer Alpha links when appropriate.

Posted by Ron May 8, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I also wanted to be a part of this test group. Could someone from W|A respond to my email like the automated response promised, please?

Posted by Sarah N. May 8, 2009 at 4:45 pm

When will it go beta?

Posted by Ricardo Almeida May 8, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Aahh,,how wonderful it is to be able to wolframize stuffs! Brilliant piece of work indeed!

Posted by mogli May 8, 2009 at 6:57 pm

May 18th! That’s Mount St. Helens Day!!

Posted by Joey C. May 8, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Do I have read something similar in an Asimov`s novel?

A super engine of search and rearch called “— ®—”?

Posted by Antonio May 8, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Yes, Multivac, it appears in some stories.

    Posted by igo May 10, 2009 at 3:10 am

Spanish support or translating?

Interested about educational applications and pedagogy.

Posted by Antonio May 8, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    They said that they are not planning a translation yet. It is a lot of work just in one language. Look at it as an opportunity to teach children the importance of learning English :D

    (I’m Spanish too, by the way).

    Posted by igo May 10, 2009 at 3:12 am

I was using it for like 20 mins!!

Posted by Adam May 8, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Looking forward to testing out the results from this promising endeavour. Glad to see friendly competition on the search engine market.

Posted by Mark May 8, 2009 at 8:32 pm

i guess im the only one from my country phil who has interest in this,, oh well what the heck

Posted by melvin May 8, 2009 at 8:42 pm

How many people in the test? There is at least one other person on it from Christchurch, New Zealand.

Posted by Jason B May 8, 2009 at 9:32 pm

im waiting to try this out, as i heard so much about it lol
by the way, im struggling to understand your UTMs, mr wolfram lolz

Posted by Alan May 8, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Hello Team,

I want test, If you want sent me an access link

See you,

Posted by Gabriel Medina May 8, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Could you please add a translation search feature to Wolfram Alpha? I could not find a search engine doing that.

Posted by Alichar May 9, 2009 at 2:58 am

Oh yeah!

Posted by Claudio Ceci May 9, 2009 at 3:10 am

Greetings everybody,
I am working in a company of more than 60.000 employees, and can not wait to see this roling.
Please keep in your initial list of very much interested gents.

Posted by Hamed Al-Ghamdi May 9, 2009 at 3:22 am

We’re not quite so sure about the spot in the heart of the Australian desert….
wasn’t me

Posted by John Doe May 9, 2009 at 3:23 am

Message to Alpha Team or PR : could we see at least,a little bit more activity on WolframAlpha Blog ?? Maybe 2 or 3 posts/day ?? More news,some screenshots,reviews,opinions,some videos…give us something until May 18 !! :) We are hungry for news about Wolfram|Alpha !!! Feed us !!! :))
Sorry for the pressure that we put on you,that we don`t have patience….but the ideea on Wolfram|Alpha could do for us is simply….a stroke of genius! Keep up with the good work,guys !!! We love you! :)

Posted by Ionut Danet May 9, 2009 at 3:40 am

    Totally agree with each Ionut Danet’s word!!!!

    Posted by Cuva May 9, 2009 at 11:37 pm

i wonder, how it manipulates the linguistic part of our input…can you post any info about that?

Posted by G.omikron May 9, 2009 at 4:06 am

What’s the thing with the interesting outputs? It doesn’t work..

Posted by Oliver May 9, 2009 at 4:39 am

    Hi Oliver,
    Once the site is live on the 18th, we’ll have the input and output boxes working.

    Posted by The PR Team May 9, 2009 at 8:34 am

      Over the time you should generate a huge output gallery, so that other search engines can index them, and increase the traffic to WA.

      Posted by Tom May 9, 2009 at 8:48 am

Hi there,
It’s very exciting to me. I missed to test the system when you opened up it for public. Are you planning to do it once more before you finally open it on 18 May.

It’s really very hard to wait. :-)

Thanks and Congrats!

Posted by Aakash May 9, 2009 at 6:27 am

You should consider hiring some marketing/creative people to market Wolfram Alpha. For one, get a better, smaller name and stop talking about math, it scares the common man ;-)

Posted by NunoH May 9, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Math is what it’s all about. ;)

    Posted by Djordje May 9, 2009 at 10:25 am

It all sounds quite interesting. Am looking forward to the 18th.

Posted by robert wentworth May 9, 2009 at 10:12 am

Interesting; let’s see.

Posted by robert wentworth May 9, 2009 at 10:15 am

I’m curious to see how WA handles the stock market. Successfully calculating probabilities in that field would certainly increase its popularity.

Posted by Tom May 9, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Probability theory has less applicability to stock market price prediction than most people might imagine.

    To be sure, market inefficiencies do sometimes occur and speculators find them with the aid of mathematics, and for a time exploit them, but in so doing they erase those inefficiencies. As a result, there is an endemic tendency towards increasing unpredictability, approaching limits set by the going rate of profit for large scale trading.

    Probability theory is naturally blind without access to the relevant facts. Nobody knows what everybody else is going to do, nor their exact circumstances, and yet these hidden factors indirectly determine prices through the mechanism of exchange.

    The price system is a distributed, information-carrying, cost discovery process. It is by far the most complex system on Earth, integrating and harmonizing the goal-directed actions of billions of individuals.

    Can you find an overlooked profit opportunity with Wolfram|Alpha?

    Welcome to the gold rush!

    Posted by Kim May 10, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Wolfram Alpha is Awesome! I got a chance to try it by myself, and in my opinion this system is something really unbelievable. Off course its have some bugs, but I think they will fix it until release day.

Posted by Gintar Sakas May 9, 2009 at 11:54 am

Por fin alguien que le hace la competencia al grande Google…. ya quiero jugar con el…

Posted by Amin May 9, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Apropos of ‘So much for a quiet launch’ – I think you will find that red dot in the middle of Australia probably emanates from Woomera in South Australia and a 61,0000 sq km aerospace test facility as well as being the location for testing the UK’s Atomic Bomb experiments in the 1950s. Wonder why they are interested in mathematics?!

Posted by Rodney Jenkins May 9, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Why the wait :-) It’s like giving away candy and you’re not allowed to touch or eat it :-)
We will wait till the 18th of May I’ll guess ;-D

Posted by Erwin Penders May 9, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I am waiting this engine with impatience…

Posted by Cuva May 9, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    You are not alone.This may be a great engine computing site.

    Posted by sule May 9, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Is the Search Engine “IDIOT PROOF”

Will it have answers to the question posted for …
1. to test the search engine
2. genuinely asked questions
3. Will that break any IPRs

Hope to see more substance on 18th May…

Posted by Vijay Badgeri May 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    This is not a search engine , i belief wolfram alpha would fuction more like an
    Engine computing site.

    Posted by sule May 9, 2009 at 6:22 pm

we are waiting for this explosion,and i hope to get involved in this evolution

Posted by czar gemin May 9, 2009 at 1:32 pm

“We are pleased to let you know that you are one of the people we’re able to invite to preview Wolfram|Alpha.”

I just wanted to register the fact that I am previewing W|A and so far so good!

Henri LeGrand

Posted by TheBigHenry May 9, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Simply can’t wait for this new and extraordinary tool. Thank you.

Posted by FRB May 9, 2009 at 2:21 pm


one small question: how are you going to create revenue from this service ?


Posted by Fred May 9, 2009 at 7:11 pm


Posted by 郭涛 May 9, 2009 at 8:17 pm

eager to test this wolframalfa and to see the difference between the results by google and stephen’s wolframalfa. looking forward to use this as early as possible.

Posted by anigalla May 9, 2009 at 10:08 pm

hey all,

I had a question for those of you who either have had a chance, or have a chance, to use wolfram alpha:

How good is it at handling discrete data?

For example, say I wanted to look at the trend in refrigerators (or wind turbines or solar panels). Does wolfram alpha have the data (and the ability) to handle data that has quite a few discrete characteristics and forms various analyses on them?

Take refrigerators – each model of refrigerator has an average price (per year), a capacity in cubic feet, energy consumption facts, mean time to failure, region of manufacture etc, sales per year, and probably about another 200 discrete quantifiable characteristics. I would like to say find trends in performance year over year, or see how price may affect sales. Is wolfram alpha good at these types of queries, eg:

refrigerator efficiency history california
refrigerator price vs refrigerator efficiency per year

etc. etc. etc. I’d think that consumers would want this quite a bit to do comparative shopping..



Posted by Ed Peschko May 9, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Are there going to be any easter eggs? Like, say, a rigorous solution to one of the outstanding Hilbert problems?

Posted by Rob May 10, 2009 at 12:01 am

The next great search engine in the world!

Posted by 墨尔本 May 10, 2009 at 12:39 am
Posted by Iddo May 10, 2009 at 1:07 am

“Within minutes, thousands of people discovered this and started exploring Wolfram|Alpha.”

And Google indexed the site, too.

Do this Google search:

Follow the links to the cached pages in the search result, and the pages that were available when the site was crawled can be examined.

Mike D.

Posted by Mike Doherty May 10, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Great work, it’s timing is crucial to the pandemic spreading throughout the world at a steady rate. (see:

    My wife is at the heart of the WHO’s efforts to get all laboratories around the world up, running and more importantly, test in such a way that resources do not run out at critical stages during a pandemic.

    The current H1N1 Influenza spread is now not the issue, its the possible re-emergence of this virus plus a possible H3N5 pandemic that is now the concern.

    To accomplish the important testing phases of viral outbreaks, monitoring accurate demographical information will be crucial. I need to know urgently whether Wolfram will be able to provide such information to labs with specific demographics for each country by launch , and if not by when.

    I am also approaching Google with the same request.

    Once we have the information my wife will formalize the use of the search engine that can provide this data by including the specifics in the standard laboratory sampling process procedures under pandemic conditions.

    I would appreciate it if you could contact me per e mail so that I can be more specific regarding the data required

    My point of view is that data availability in proper format will save a lot of lives, hence this approach.

    Thanks and looking forward to the launch.

    Posted by Andre May 11, 2009 at 5:38 am

Thanks for the preview. I wrote this blog post review of Wolfram/Alpha. Key West News as curated by Wolfram/Alpha.

Posted by Eric Logan May 10, 2009 at 2:56 am

I would expect your servers to get hammered initially due to the pent up demand and the time interested parties have had to consider searches they would like to run immediately, then the wave of tyre kickers will arrive once the news orgs, twitter, etc start spreading the word, volume will be massive due to the better than Google hype but most of their searches are likely to be trivial, then the academics that are not already aware will get to grips with it so I can see a pretty drawn out traffic spike coming your way. You might even see some malicious DDoS traffic if someone thinks it would be ‘fun’ to try and take you offline early on. Then it might settle down or it might just keep growing…

Good luck!

Posted by Stuart May 10, 2009 at 3:52 am

To me Wolfram Alpha seems to be a perfect introduction of Chapter 13 of NKS book connected to PCE of Chapter 12.

I got a chance to preview it last night. Of course, it requires lots of improvements but having witnessed Google’s evolution, I am confident W-A will create a big niche for itself.

The best thing that WA does and search engine doesn’t is it makes one addicted (like social networking sites) to use it. At least it made me one.

Eager to see it evolving.

Posted by Gaurav May 10, 2009 at 4:19 am

after this project, it is very defficult to imagine the future of internet after 20 years or 50 !!

Posted by mohamed said May 10, 2009 at 5:57 am

[quote] We recognize Cape Town, Delhi, Tokyo, Lima, Rio de Janeiro…[/quote]
And there is Bangalore too! :-)

Posted by Rithish May 10, 2009 at 11:18 pm

I wouuld like to frame a query concerning the interaction between gasoline and hydrogen at combustion. Specifically, I want to know how much hydrogen is necessary to make gasoline burn completely in a closed system, such as a car. How would I frame a query like that?

Posted by Joe Shea May 11, 2009 at 1:25 am

That “spot in the heart of the Australian desert” is probably Ayers Rock. The city, not the rock itself, of course.

Posted by Steve May 11, 2009 at 5:14 am

Автор, делайте пожалуйста регулярные обновления статей на вашем сайте… А то в последнее время что-то с этим туго…

Posted by Григорий May 11, 2009 at 5:18 am

Please be open so we can improve search engine optimization for our business purpose.

Posted by mybonie May 11, 2009 at 5:41 am

“We’re not quite so sure about the spot in the heart of the Australian desert.” Alice Springs?

Posted by Y. T. de Jong May 11, 2009 at 7:02 am

well, good luck then guys …

Posted by Jochen May 11, 2009 at 8:27 am

How does it feel to be part of the large sweep of cultural evolution?
I can’t wait til the launch!

Posted by Allison Aller May 11, 2009 at 8:33 am

Being one of those red dots I was quite amazed with Wolfram|Alpha and its ability to locate future events : :-).

Posted by MichielH May 11, 2009 at 9:20 am

I was eager to do some test runs of my own queries after reading a lot of posts on this new search engine. I had earlier requested for an access to Wolfram, but was disappointed that i was not given access :(. But now i’m a bit happy to hear that it will be live for evryone on May 18. i will stay tunned ! for that Day to arrive ;) :)

Posted by krishna May 11, 2009 at 9:22 am

El futuro está aquí

Posted by Alberto May 11, 2009 at 9:28 am

You are doing a great marketing job here guys! I can barely wait until May 2009 to try it out. What day in May is it coming out?

Posted by Matthew Brand May 11, 2009 at 9:49 am

Les deseo mucho exito.
Si quieren contar con colaboración desde Argentina estoy dispuesto a colaborar con Ustedes.

Posted by Marcelo R May 11, 2009 at 10:03 am

curiously waiting for release of Wolfram alpha

Posted by venkat May 11, 2009 at 10:20 am

As you expect an overload perhaps you can appeal to people to make their PCs spare capacity available to the Wolfram Alpha Network.

Posted by Brian Gilbert May 11, 2009 at 10:40 am

well done.i am waiting for it

Posted by web2.0 May 11, 2009 at 10:45 am

Endlich mal eine echte Innovation im Netz!
Bin wirklich schon gespannt.
Fragen über Fragen, die auf Antwort hoffen oder
nie gestellt wurden.
Vielleicht eine neue Sicht auf viele Dinge, aber vermutlich
auch viel Quatsch …:-)

Posted by Hans-Jörg May 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I think the greatest thanks go to Wolfram Alpha team and their leader for the inspiration their effort gives us all. It does so to an extend that the end result is at the moment unbelievably … irrelevant. So, thank you again for the inspiration, for the passionate speeches (available on you tube) and for your awesome endeavour. For those of us who have even the basic understanding of Knowledge Management it is certainly a big (and very positive) surprise that the breakthrough you promise (and we have all anticipated for long now) will come from the area of Computational Knowledge (and not possibly from another area of tacit and not algorithm- based, mainly explicit knowledge). Is geometry the indicator for comprehensible knowledge patterns ? God for ever geometrizes ? I think we live in exciting times that the answer to all that maybe imminent. Anyway I beg your pardon for the long message and will leave you with something intriguing: “Αεί ο Θεός ο Μέγας γεωμετρεί, το κύκλου μήκος ίνα ορίση διαμέτρω, παρήγαγεν αριθμόν απέραντον, καί όν, φεύ, ουδέποτε όλον θνητοί θα εύρωσι”

Posted by Nick May 11, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Ich frage wirklich ob das hier nur ein großer Hype ist, oder wirklich erstnhaft eine Google-Alternative werden kann. Ich warte auf jeden Fall auf den 18. :)

Posted by Christian May 11, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Can hardly wait for the launch…. Want to see how much traffic you guys get hit with on launch day.

On a side note that dot in Pakistan is in the NWFP province (supposedly under control of the Taliban) makes me wonder what they were looking up

Posted by Shahjee May 11, 2009 at 2:53 pm

i cant wait guys!!!

Posted by miguel May 11, 2009 at 2:59 pm

1. A reviewer mentioned that WA guesses if there is an ambiguity in the question. I suggest instead that it returns a dropdown list with the alternatives. If the question for example mentions NY then the dropdown list would contain NY City and NY State. The questioner would select the correct line and his question would be redisplayed including the clarification before WA evaluated it.
2. Allow users to create a profile in which they would include preferences so that WA could take them into account with all their questions.

Posted by Brian Gilbert May 11, 2009 at 3:42 pm

So glad to hear that this has an official launch date. How could you expect to launch something so grand and not have it heralded upon the masses?! The funny thing (and I think wishful thinking upon so many people) is that this is being touted as the next great Google Killer. I think we both know that, wishful thinking aside, this isn’t the case. I wrote up a brief note (with Pix!!) on why I think that WolframAlpha is Not a Google Killer. I would love to hear your thoughts:

Posted by greg May 11, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Hey , you are a genius.Congratulations for Wolfram.

Posted by Javier Sinde May 11, 2009 at 4:23 pm