Stephen Wolfram’s Introduction to Wolfram|Alpha

May 13, 2009
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The Wolfram|Alpha Launch Team
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Building the ultimate computational knowledge engine is a highly ambitious and long-term project. The Wolfram|Alpha that you will get to start exploring next week is really just the beginning. Still, there are a lot of ways that you might use Wolfram|Alpha.

In this screencast, Stephen Wolfram gives a quick introduction and demo of today’s Wolfram|Alpha.

68 Comments

Any program for statistical modeling?

Posted by Nasrin May 13, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Hi Nasrin,
    One of the topics under Examples is “Statistics & Data Analysis.” You will be able to look through the topic once we’re live. Thanks!

    Posted by The PR Team May 13, 2009 at 11:27 am

TX

Posted by Nasrin May 13, 2009 at 10:20 am

The question is how much could Wolfram|Alpha give the exact right answers? And what other languages are supported than English?

Posted by Monir May 13, 2009 at 10:40 am

    This is a rather complex project, and the natural language processing it involves is probably a large part of that complexity. I believe I read somewhere that no languages other than English are currently implemented nor planned but that it is a possibility.

    Posted by Mike May 13, 2009 at 10:03 pm

We are pleasantly impressed. From this moment dream of being able to offer through our site is powerful tool for music education in our case. We hope to make contact to determine how we can turn this dream into reality.

Posted by Adrián Prado May 13, 2009 at 10:52 am

Mr. Wolfram….you are a genius and we are lucky to have you in this world ! We appreciate all the hard work you do !!!

Posted by Ionut Danet May 13, 2009 at 10:52 am

The searcher name shuold be easy to remember
wolframalpha.com long and not easy to remeber if u consider non english speaking people.

Posted by obada May 13, 2009 at 10:58 am

    If it’s very good, it will quickly become just Alpha. ;)

    Posted by BoLe May 13, 2009 at 11:04 am

Very exciting times we live in. Looking forward to exploring and have been spreading the word.

Posted by Tony May 13, 2009 at 10:59 am

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!

Posted by jasonspalace May 13, 2009 at 11:19 am

I was pleased with the ‘Input interpretation box as I expect many inputs to be ambiguous and and the interpretation box will help correct this.

I was hoping the input can be complex. If so could examples of complex input be given?

Suppose I asked it to compute something it might not know such as the UK Government Public Sector Pension liability?
Could it then prompt me through the creation of the question asking me to direct it to data and logic that it did not have or to input it directly?
Could I then save that tailored question to later get an updated answer?

Posted by Brian Gilbert May 13, 2009 at 11:28 am

linked screencast is exciting and well produced

Posted by BoLe May 13, 2009 at 11:29 am

I am truly amazed. Mr. Wolfram, you are to be commended for undertaking this project. If it only stood static – it would be one of the truly most useful tools EVER created for the web.

WOW.

Greg

Posted by Gregory Cox May 13, 2009 at 11:46 am

Impressive! Can’t wait to weave this into my digital day-to-day life.

Posted by Steve Breen May 13, 2009 at 11:53 am

I agree with BoLe – great screencast.
Brian Gilbert above has a good idea about guided question creation – maybe breaking down into intermidiate steps with user interaction.

Posted by Tim Hulse May 13, 2009 at 11:55 am

This technology it’s so amazing, definitly the next big thing after Internet and Google. So Mathematica it’s base for all this eh… i will buy it right away!
I guess implement new languages must be easy, it’s just find a way to correct map verbose expressions to the engine expressions.
Well, see you at the launching!
Bye
PD: Mr. Wolfram you are my Hero!

Posted by Raul Huertas May 13, 2009 at 12:07 pm

“Intermediate”. Sigh. Alpha is wasted on me….

Posted by Tim Hulse May 13, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Thank you for reminding us that human brain should be left for analog, fuzzy and beauty, even though they usually at our right side.

Posted by AntonioCarlos Ko May 13, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Extremely underwhelming i was expecting something *actually* revolutionary :(

one major point: how can it logically say “the gdp of france / italy” should be interpreted as “the gdp of france *divided* by the gdp of Italy” that makes no sense to me…. clearly the context suggests that I want to know the GDP of both countries…

it’s just Wikipedia connected to a calculator?

Posted by Errant May 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    i guess yes, close to that, just that it’s not a hand-held calculator

    Posted by BoLe May 13, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    *sigh* I was expecting a “major point” vs something that “doesn’t make sense” to Errant

    Posted by D May 13, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    You put the universal symbol for division between the two, and you think its an error that Alpha divided the two? You shouldn’t be allowed to use the internet.

    Posted by Eric May 13, 2009 at 3:23 pm

      your assuming my ignorance whereas I was pointing out potential user ignorance.

      Dont market an engine to “joe user” if you dont provide the behaviour 8they* expect. I’d have no problme using this *(indeed it makes sense to me). The rest of my family? probably not….

      Posted by Errant May 14, 2009 at 10:24 am

Fantastic!

Posted by Tom May 13, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Amazing technolgie

Posted by Flo May 13, 2009 at 1:22 pm

When http://www.Google.com/squared arrives, will it offer similar features? Thank you.

Posted by Bill Coyne May 13, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    AFAIK it will mine a significantly larger amount of data if it mines the whole web, but we still have to see about the quality of the result data and the capability of the data-synthesizing algorithms. It’s nevertheless really interesting to observe the evolution of the web

    Posted by BoLe May 13, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Just saw screencast.Indeed a great job !!! will you have data for other species genomes ?

Posted by satish May 13, 2009 at 1:36 pm

The final part of the screencast provides a great insight of what could Wolfram Alpha will provide in the future. The implications of a tool like WA are unbelievable: Usage statistics and patterns search will provide a great insight of the human reasoning and knowledge building and will give us a great idea of national education infrastructure on every part of the planet or just maybe the possibility of loading new data sets from science institutions could let us open a new form of making science. I’m amazed. Technically speaking I wonder if WA uses large clusters of pattern recognition algorithms running in dedicated hardware.

Posted by Esteban Gutierrez May 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

This is very cool. I can see how useful this could be for all kinds of things. May 19th right?

Posted by Matt May 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    No, Monday May 18th.

    Posted by Brian Gilbert May 13, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Actually 18th, finally. A colleague continued this:

    Wolfram Alpha then begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 EST, May 29th …

    Posted by BoLe May 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Wah… I just keeled over after watching the presentation.

This is the biggest thing since Google, and google changed my life.

As soon as this thing learns to do something with all it’s knowledge it’s gonna make a whole lot of people obsolete.

Posted by Jonathan Dotse May 13, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Dear Mr. Wolfram and Makers of Wolfram Alpha,

to me Wolfram Alpha is a dream that is becoming real.
As a scientist I am permanently looking for all sorts of information. While searching the
Web is already often helpful it is usually very time consuming to filter the abundance of
similar findings and judge their quality. Wolfram Alpha is a huge step in the right direction.

Congratulations!

Christoph

Posted by Christoph May 13, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Very intresteing screen cast, This could be an change in the way information and knowledge is spread now and in the futre

Posted by Johan Lundh May 13, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Finding facts is one thing. Displaying the information so that one can create a story is another thing. During the screencast, I notice that I’m interacting intellectually and emotionally with the graphical and tabular information to make sense of it in a human context. Essentially, my brain is part of the process for creating meaning from the information. It will be remarkable to see the evolution of the tool.

Will there be opportunities for users to participate in value creation through proprietary applications?

Posted by Brenda McCaffrey May 13, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Does this do philosophy or debates or arguments?

Posted by Name (required) May 13, 2009 at 4:45 pm

I really enjoyed watching the video. Congratulations.

Posted by Anil May 13, 2009 at 4:50 pm

This is amazing. Truly impressive. I’m in awe.

Posted by Ankur Bulsara May 13, 2009 at 5:10 pm

JESUS CHRIST THIS IS AWESOME!
If this project can’t steal market share of Google, nothing can!

I wish you all the best!

Posted by Asgaro May 13, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Hello Steven,

This sounds like a really impressive project. If all goes well, I’d expect it to be one of those life-changing projects.

I have a question, being a college student, and an open-source enthusiast, will there be any chances of learning from the project’s internals or by participating in it ?

MT.

Posted by Mohamed Tarek May 13, 2009 at 5:32 pm

google better WATCHOUT!!

Posted by Janel May 13, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Hello, Mr Wolfram, I hope the labor and effort to receive the money and we have s benefits Though people of great things have happened or small has always forget I hope you do not like this one and more elders are worthy, you’ll always keep track of your successes and I will rejoice remote. I wish good fun and good work

Posted by hayalcii May 13, 2009 at 6:54 pm

HOLY CRAP!!! This is the most awesome amazing thing I have ever seen!!! I love it!!! I cannot wait till this comes out! Where is your Donate button, I will give you money to keep working on this!!! It is by far the greatest product since Google search! FABULOUS!!!

Posted by Aseem Kishore May 13, 2009 at 7:03 pm

I am already obsessed. Please launch sooooon!!!

Posted by Student May 13, 2009 at 7:42 pm

What, those of use running Linux are excluded? What’s with the “…your must have Javascript enabled and the latest Adobe Flash Player…”?

I do have JS enabled. I do have Flash Player 10. Use it all the time. Can’t get basic cross-browser, cross-OS functionality working?

Hmmmmm?????

Posted by Gerald Butler May 13, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Woops! I’m an idiot! I guess I need Wolfram/Alpha! My flash was uninstalled by my latest upgrade to Ubuntu 9.04. Yikes! My apologies.

    Posted by Gerald Butler May 13, 2009 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks for letting us know, Gerald! We actually sent your message to our testing team to see if they could find anything, but we’ll let them know that you’re okay now.

      Posted by The PR Team May 13, 2009 at 9:27 pm

That sit in the Australian desert looks to be in or near the town of Coober Pedy.

Posted by Larry Doyle May 13, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Does the search engine support Asian languages, like Chinese Japanese or ohters?

Posted by WingKing May 13, 2009 at 9:41 pm

This’s definitely worth waiting…however i’m just wondering if this engine will support multi languages?

Posted by Jameson Ngo May 13, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Excellent presentation with good details. I have a question. Internet groups different cultures and languages, English language users dominates the net, but not for much, does your knowledge engine speaks Chinese or Spanish? these 2 languages grouped have more internet users than English language users. are you prepared or at least thinking about it? Thanks.

Posted by Marketing en Buscadores de internet May 14, 2009 at 12:11 am

W|A’s nature as a tool for computation may be well served in the form of application extensions in the same manner Firefox or Photoshop utilizes a less monolithic structure. The interface is beautifully placid and modular suiting presentation out of a gadget/unconventionally sized window.

Posted by Naked Ape May 14, 2009 at 2:12 am

this is definitely what you call innovative and intelligent. As asked above, what languages will it be supporting initially? Plus is there any way i can test this before it’s released?

Posted by Sardar Mohkim Khan May 14, 2009 at 4:13 am

*Excited!*

Posted by Fredrik May 14, 2009 at 4:29 am

This looks impressive. Looking forward to multi-language!

Posted by max May 14, 2009 at 6:04 am

nice!
I think one important information would be the actual source of the answeres. For example the population: when and where are these numbers from?

Posted by nonce May 14, 2009 at 6:04 am

I wanted to tell my father about this. I always like to keep him informed on fundamental Internet-related developments, but he had already seen an item on Dutch television..

..I’m afraid I think the servers will be going down tomorrow… even my mother (61) has heard about Wolfram Alpha!!..

Anyhow: good luck to you guys and thank you so much for this wonderful effort; technology like this is badly needed if Raymond Kurzweil wants to win his bet within 20 years (passing the Turing test).

Posted by jarno May 14, 2009 at 6:45 am

As an ancient history scholar, I am curious about alpha’s ability to compute and compare historical anthropological data like population densities before and after the eruption of Thera in the surrounding countries, or male/female life expectancies in provinces of the Roman Empire before the birth of Galen, during his lifetime, and after his death or disease agents in a selected geographical location at a particular point in time or birth rates in Rome before and after the passage of Augustus’ laws promoting family values.

Posted by Mary Harrsch May 14, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I’m a bit of a history buff myself and the issues raised by Ms Harrsch are valid only in the respect that the data sources should be listed and probabilities of the results be assigned comparitive values. I’m looking forward to bouncing around the claims of some that the population of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) ranged in the 300,000 to 4000000 area. Seems to me that Wolfram/Alpha would be an ideal vehicle in comparing annual rainfall, crops, and the ability of a transport system that had’nt discovered the wheel to feed that many.

    Posted by John G. Jerdon May 14, 2009 at 10:04 am

Wolfram|Alpha data base size as a function of time ?

Posted by codebrain May 14, 2009 at 9:29 am

Hi
HOW FAR CAN SQL COMMAND BE USED IN THE SEARCH ENGINE. VARIABLES AND ARRAYS TO RETURN DATA. DATA ANALYSIS USING xCELSIUS AND cRYSTAL REPORTS xi.

tHANKS

Posted by Mahmoud allan abuSamra May 14, 2009 at 11:45 am

Awesome! Accurate Knowledge at the tip of your fingers!

Charts and graphs make it easier to understand and remember the information.

The input you receive in exchange of your question gets your brain working at full speed!

Congratulations Wolfram Alpha!

Posted by Emma Arnaud May 14, 2009 at 11:48 am

I’ve been showing this to some people in my lab and we were wondering what kind of physics Alpha can handle. For example, a useful question that seems rather nontrivial would be “What atoms with atomic numbers less than 100 have hyperfine electronic transitions between 1 and 100GHz?” I bet someone Alpha is going to be good — I think I’d win my bet hands down if it could answer this intelligently. Can it?

Posted by Matt Reed May 14, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Hurry up guys, we’re waiting for you. D’ont forget to mention Buenos Aires, Argentina as a place with many people interested!

Posted by Fernando Questa May 14, 2009 at 12:45 pm

we will try to use this tool in our school of english in murcia spain.
students remember more when they are activiely involved in the aquisition process in a fun way. instead of writing on the board the irreg verbs we try to find them in an engine and then compare which result is best for consumption.

steve marcus murcia
inglesgarantizado

Posted by steve marcus May 14, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Just WOW! Great impact on learning and education.

Posted by Jan Jacobs May 14, 2009 at 1:59 pm