Live, from Champaign!

May 15, 2009
The Wolfram|Alpha Launch Team
Posted by

Wolfram|Alpha just went live for the very first time, running all clusters.

Stephen Wolfram beginning his live broadcast for the launch of Wolfram|Alpha.

This first run at testing Wolfram|Alpha in the real world is off to an auspicious start, although not surprisingly, we’re still working on some kinks, especially around logging.

While we’re still in the early stages of this long-term project, it is really gratifying to finally have the opportunity to invite you to participate in this project with us.

Live interview of Theodore Gray during the Wolfram|Alpha launch broadcast.

We are very grateful for the outpouring of support that we have received over the past two months. And for the enthusiastic interest that was shown this evening, especially in the last few minutes.

We got off to a late start, but so far, so good. We’ll stay up for as along as it makes sense to test the system with external access and gather the data we need. Then we’ll take Wolfram|Alpha offline for a while. We’ll continue testing through the weekend, opening access on occasion.

And we're live!

For those of you trying out the system for the first time, welcome! To anyone waiting in line due to capacity limits, thanks for your patience. We really appreciate it.

You can continue to watch us in action over on


Congrats for the effort.

While I haven’t been able to get Alpha generating any good/useful answers until the system was overloaded with questions, I will be waiting and trying again.

Good luck and all the best.

Posted by Kempton May 15, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Congratulations on the launch! Wolfram|Alpha is amazing so far… I can’t wait to see where this will go in the future!

Posted by Chris Thomson May 15, 2009 at 10:06 pm

No time stamp on the blog posts, I’m confused to exactly when Wolfram went live..

Posted by Daniel May 15, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    was scheduled for 7PM US CDT.

    Posted by Mark May 16, 2009 at 10:18 am

Great job and good luck!!!!

Posted by Marcos May 15, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Congrats! Looks like this could become a useful tool.

Posted by Joel May 15, 2009 at 10:20 pm


Posted by steve May 15, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Good news, everyone!

Posted by Professor Laserface May 15, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Congrats!!!! Amazing combo-breakkkkkkerr.
I’m Brazilian guy and i hope what de wolfram understand portuguese

Posted by Rodrigo May 15, 2009 at 10:25 pm

I could test it with some questions and the answers was very good. In some cases it didn’t understand me, but I think it is gonna get better with time.

Greetings from Argentina!

Posted by Patricio May 15, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Thank you for this invention. I am so eager to try it and again and again. Best Regards

Posted by Ros May 15, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Well done I feel I watched history tonight. This will change the way people learn and the way people will have to teach.

Posted by Jim Lyons May 15, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Great stuff. Looking forward to getting started with the API.

Posted by Peter Graham May 15, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Well done, Wolfram Team. If this is the starting point, I’m intrigued to see what is possible in a year.

Query: Is Alpha in beta? :-)

Very impressive presentation. Did you hire Tufte to consult on it? Taken as a whole, the information is well-conveyed and with more polish than any web presentation I’ve seen before.

You’ve set the bar quite high for every web designer who presents information.

Posted by Jonathan Woolson May 15, 2009 at 10:56 pm

I think the first improved will be the adding of links within the search so you can then link up all the data you’ve made in one continued search. rambling man, but I like it so far

Posted by Sonny May 15, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Thanks for broadcasting the launch live.

Posted by Mark Senn May 15, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Absolutely fantastic! Well done! I am very impressed. Thank you for making this possible.

Posted by Theo Zimmermann May 15, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Congratulations on the achievement!

I was pretty excited this evening and very impressed with the performance. Then I sat down and wrote a blog post. However, the more I wrote about it, the more I am worried …

I hope Dr. Wolfram and the WolframAlpha team can look into the transparency and context issues seriously as scientists instead of internet entrepreneurs whose only goal is to take control of the world from Google. Think about our future scientists.

Posted by Sam Liu May 15, 2009 at 11:21 pm

I am some what impressed but you need to improve on words like SEO, SEM , Internet Marketing , SMO etc etc

Posted by Cijo Abraham May 15, 2009 at 11:25 pm

Can’t wait to see the power of this!

We shall see…

Posted by Matthew May 15, 2009 at 11:42 pm

Great way to start. I am beginning to love this . Why can’t I see the interpenetration for Computational ?

Posted by Sam Sulumi May 16, 2009 at 12:07 am

You have created an amazing product, I really look forward to the continued development of Wolfram Alpha. Thanks for all your effort!

Posted by Chris Van Vorous May 16, 2009 at 12:10 am

Well done. I watched the live feed. Of course there were glitches, but your results present an entirely different and needed twist on hard scientific data reporting and collection. Excellent effort thus far.

Posted by Mark May 16, 2009 at 12:13 am

Guys i know it’s all hands on deck, but PLEASE take a moment to smile and relish in the moment.

This is the moment you have all worked so hard for, this is THE WORLD MEETS MATHEMATICA!

Kudos. stunning job guys the data WA is returning is totally insane i’m loving it!

Flash this comment up on the control center big screen for all the crew.


Posted by Taree May 16, 2009 at 12:33 am

So far so good. I am looking forward to see how much it will improve in the coming months. Hopefully the Alpha team will be able keep up with most of the important requests.

Posted by Ron May 16, 2009 at 12:48 am

Congratulations for the amazing achievement.
Site looks very good, but running very slowly. I hope it gets better after some, I guess it may
be because of the huge traffic that wolfgramalpha might be getting right now.
All the best for the future.

Posted by Karthik Rajgopal May 16, 2009 at 1:22 am

why after typing in “current users” did it first show a map / graphs and other details then

We’re sorry…

Wolfram|Alpha is currently
under extreme load

and can’t immediately handle your
request. Please try again later.

— The Wolfram|Alpha Team

then i refresh and now it says about electronics

Posted by Whizadree May 16, 2009 at 1:23 am

Get this error, seems it is overloaded.

“Sorry, Wolfram Alpha is temporarily unavailable. Please try again.
Error: DataPacletFilter: Unable to get Connection Cannot create PoolableConnectionFactory (Too many connections)”

Posted by TidyRead May 16, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Error storing data: $Failed

    Posted by Whizadree May 16, 2009 at 2:05 am

Congratulations! Good job!
Don’t stop this project. This is one of the most important things happened in the last years.
Keep on.

Posted by Saim May 16, 2009 at 1:29 am

Seems to be fascinating. Have to learn the “new way” but it works. Thanks for the Tool!

Posted by torsten May 16, 2009 at 1:50 am

Good Luck!

Posted by John May 16, 2009 at 1:53 am

This result display is confusion for query “1 lb kg”

Input interpretation:
1 lb (pound) | kg (kilogram)

Unit conversions:
1 lb : 2.205 lb
0.4536 kg : 1 kg

should I read horizontal or vertical? Is it a bug?

Posted by TidyRead May 16, 2009 at 1:55 am

Great job, Wolfram|Alpha team! I’ve been playing with the system and can see its potential. Would be nice if it showed images related the item being queried, though. For example, I entered “iguana” but received mostly informational feedback but no visual “aids”, which would have been a nice touch. Aside from that, I loved the ability to compare different countries. The information provided was substantial and informative. Again, wonderful job!

Posted by Mario Vargas May 16, 2009 at 2:11 am

Wow – congratulations to this project… did already some questions… I am really baffled.
Would have suspected that the system will be massive overloaded in the first day(s)

Posted by Daniel May 16, 2009 at 2:30 am


I am not as impressed as these people seem to be.

It is a great resource, I suppose for students. More of a teachers aid than a search site.



Posted by FredWGarrettIII May 16, 2009 at 2:35 am

Just tried some first queries – It will take some time to use it intuitivly

Posted by Eric May 16, 2009 at 2:35 am

Good in GDPs, weather, stocks, statistics about locations, math.
But else?

It seems you got a lot of work to do!

Good luck

Posted by MassEffect May 16, 2009 at 3:21 am

Congratulations on putting this up for the people! like the idea very much!

Posted by Sardar Mohkim Khan May 16, 2009 at 3:47 am

Great stuff!! Just loving wolfram, especially after loving this review :

Posted by george May 16, 2009 at 3:56 am

the launch was bigger than watching a man walk on the moon!!!

Posted by adam May 16, 2009 at 4:07 am

Congratulations from Austria!
Good luck for the future!

Posted by Merle May 16, 2009 at 4:08 am

More about music and mathematics would be cool..

Posted by Merle May 16, 2009 at 4:12 am

The community link on the front page do not work.

Posted by Tom May 16, 2009 at 4:27 am

    The Community link will be up soon! Thanks!

    Posted by The PR Team May 16, 2009 at 8:27 am

Accept my greetings for this excellent start! We can’t wait to have our API application approved to try integrating Comindwork project management software with Wolfram|Alpha powerful engine. I believe this has a huge potential for increasing knowledge work productivity in knowledge-intensive organizations.

Posted by Andrew Uminski May 16, 2009 at 4:41 am

Very nice. It seems to me that a potential limitation of the project as it scales in size is the need for Wolfram to provide and maintain the underlying databases that Alpha uses. Are there any plans to provide a mechanism for the “community” to add additional databases to the system – perhaps in a way analogous to a wiki? Alpha could of course caveat any results returned from unverified community data sources. This would seem to provide a means for Alpha to grow rapidly.

Posted by Paul Howland May 16, 2009 at 4:43 am

As much as I congratulate you and as much as I am stunned with the results of the machine, I must state, that the launch of Wolfram Alpha is a black friday for webstandards. You may be geniuses in math, thats for sure, but folks we’re livin in 2009 and there is hardly any reason to render text in images or not to use modern webstandars such as XHTML, MathML, Canvas, SVG to produce results accessable for everyone.

Please start migrating to W3C standards!

Posted by Thilo May 16, 2009 at 4:51 am

Very stunning. Respect to the team effort and Wolfram.

Posted by Edvard May 16, 2009 at 5:01 am

Great Job, congratulations!

Posted by Diego May 16, 2009 at 5:12 am

Hello, this is the greatest search engine ever !!! GOOD JOB!!!

PLEASE CONSIDER to add “ROMANIAN” language too !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it is very important to have multilanguage search engine !!!!! thank you very much

Posted by Vir2k May 16, 2009 at 5:29 am

Congrats, guys! I’ve been looking forward to this for the past… week or so, but it was really exciting. Frequent blogposts ftw and I also liked the screencast very much.
I watched the live feed yesterday until 3am my time, but it was worth it :P Good job documenting the launch. Sure there were technical glitches and stuff, but that’s all fine. It’s part of the process and it makes historic footage great. The moonlanding isn’t superbly Steadicammed either, but that’s not the point. It’s no art, it’s history. So good job!
Just been trying Wolpha out, lots of great results, though I see there’s still a lot it needs. For example, when querying “Mozart”, it has no idea what I’m talking about, but I’m sure that’s something to come.
So keep up the good work!

Posted by Daedalus Young May 16, 2009 at 5:52 am

from germany
very good job is going here .. how can I contribute for it ?
just let me know

Posted by Moise May 16, 2009 at 6:37 am

pas trop le top ce moteur de recherche :)
c’est pas mon genre

Posted by Agharass May 16, 2009 at 7:15 am

    c’est pas un moteur de recherche classique ;)

    Posted by alex May 16, 2009 at 8:58 am

Good for you I hope you do well in the future

Posted by Paul May 16, 2009 at 7:17 am

Wolfram|Alpha is amazing and I can find everything of I want from chemistry.
But one thing is iritating. This search browser doesn’t answer about too stupid questions.

Posted by shadow.of.eclipse May 16, 2009 at 7:26 am

it is amazing, really big achiewment achievement….

Posted by guet May 16, 2009 at 7:26 am

Random Surfer visited you…

Posted by Random Surfer May 16, 2009 at 7:30 am

Congrats on launching Wolfram alpha ,it will be useful to students ,mathematicians ,scientists and others .

Posted by venkat May 16, 2009 at 7:49 am

It’s mind-numbingly slow. Surely you must have expected heavy traffic.

Posted by cormac May 16, 2009 at 8:04 am

It doesn’t understand what to do with zip codes. I’m a little startled.

Assuming “22314 to 22304″ is a mathematical object | Use as referring to a calendar computation instead


22304 demographics -> Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input.

How many people in 22304? -> Assuming multiplication | Use a list instead, Input interpretation:Mathematica form all countries | population 22304. Result:Show details
148.9 trillion people (2006,2007,2008 and 2009 estimates)

Maybe Wolfram Beta will better be able to provide demographic data.

Posted by Steven Mietelski May 16, 2009 at 8:13 am

    It can identify New York City, Manhattan and Staten Island. However, It does not know about the Bronx or Queens. It only knows about Brooklyn in CT and OH.

    Posted by Gerard May 16, 2009 at 8:31 am

    population in zip code 22304

    current population estimate | 46256 people
    population density estimate | 10 157 people/mi^2
    (excepting current estimates, based on 2000 census)

    Posted by Chris May 16, 2009 at 3:04 pm

its doesn’t seem to be slow and was quite fast when i tried. I wanted to replace google but sadly i have to use google for web search again.

With mathematics, geography, population etc for so many things it was great and was so surprised with the results and result display style as it was including so much of detail.

But for web search it gave nothing saying not to sure what to output or something like. e.g. if i search my name in google it will show my site and other related stuffs. But it didn’t show anything.

Then i searched for wolfram and it gave detail about wolfram. This is just a quick test and quick response. I feel lucky to be one of the tester in first days of live.

Posted by Damodar Bashyal May 16, 2009 at 8:43 am

    That’s because Wolfram|Alpha is not a web search engine. Google and WA complement each other actually.

    Posted by Dragos Serban May 16, 2009 at 10:09 am

Hey, talk about your clusters! What OS you use ? ??

Posted by Nuno May 16, 2009 at 8:44 am

    they are using MS-DOS 5.0

    Posted by ht May 16, 2009 at 7:35 pm

it doesn’t compute combined queries like “(place of birth michel gondry) to (place of birth wes anderson)” when for example “place of birth michel gondry” give us the correct answer.

Posted by Maciek May 16, 2009 at 8:56 am

“e.g. if i search my name in google it will show my site and other related stuffs. But it didn’t show anything.”

hilarious! You are kidding, right?

Posted by Hilarious May 16, 2009 at 9:02 am

    what do you mean by its hilarious? I thought it searches web as well like google does. Do you mean its hilarious because i searched my name LOL.

    Posted by Damodar Bashyal May 16, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Unless I am mistaken the system intentionally avoids subjects that might be controversial. I suspect there is an intellectual bias, or cowardice. Religion is a perfectly normal demographic point and it is relevant. Sex terms (penis, vagina) are undefined.

Beyond that it seems like place name algorithm is entirely munged. It doesn’t understand that there are multiple places with the same name. I looked up typical post-office town names and it was unable to find places.

I am sure its great for doing math but that seems like a pretty small domain.

Posted by DLG May 16, 2009 at 9:12 am

Hey, you split my surname “Kimmel” and interpret it as the distance between “Kim, Sughd, Tajikistan” and “Mel, Veneto, Italy”. I don’t like that! ;-)

Posted by Sascha Kimmel May 16, 2009 at 9:18 am

Pretty nice, but I stumped you on the second US town I search

Posted by Judy May 16, 2009 at 9:40 am

Hey DLG,

Maybe you have some sort of filter to stop your kids entering “rude” words. Type “fu_k” (you can guess the missing letter) and you’ll get lots of information. I typed penis and all sorts of information was returned, but unfortunately no data on average length to enable me to make comparisons to see how I measure up. :)

Also no data on correlation between penis length and show size.

Hilarious (size 15 shoes)

Posted by Hilarious May 16, 2009 at 9:41 am

Just fantastic!

Posted by Florent May 16, 2009 at 9:43 am

Donwload as PDF doesn’t work in firefox 3

Posted by rafael May 16, 2009 at 10:35 am

Good work..

Great i am this computing engine..

Posted by umesh May 16, 2009 at 10:39 am

Every search return happens to crash Firefox, but not IE, you know what’s wrong?

Posted by john43 May 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

    whats wrong is that you are using ie

    Posted by Paul May 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm

      You probably didn’t read his comment too well… the essential thing is that a friend of mine had to switch to chrome to get it running… so something is really breaking firefox in the wolfram code… hmmm…

      Posted by David Mulder May 16, 2009 at 4:58 pm

It’s really fantastic what you managed to build!

But could you PLEASE change the display to SVG and MathML instead if GIFs!!!

Posted by Martin May 16, 2009 at 11:00 am

    +1 on this one. That would really help when incorporating the results in other works and it would also improve the output quality for visually impaired people who use screen readers or browser zoom.

    Posted by Filip Navara May 16, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Congrats on the launch! Awesome engine (just FYI, the blog doesn’t display properly in IE7, works fine in other browsers).

Posted by miami web design company May 16, 2009 at 11:24 am

hm…. a lot of good things, but a lot of things are still missing, which sometimes produces funny answers, e.g. “tristan and isolde” is a movie… nothing about the opera. Ah wait, “Opera” is also a movie…

Posted by Lars May 16, 2009 at 11:38 am

Congratulations! I already blogged about this event!
Now that I can challenge it myself I guess it will be one of my favourite tools for news & facts research!

Great Job, Stephen!

Posted by Mario May 16, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Just tried a few more searches and found that it is not working with more complex computes like

(sphere radius=5) – (cylinder height=1 radius=2)

would be cool to get some functionality there – I see a lot of great possibilities in corporate use if the companies feed their own databases. Will probably blog my thoughts on that soon. I hope you are in contact with the people I am thinking about as that will be the ones paying that service for the rest of us – I assume …

Posted by Eric May 16, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Wow! … I think I’ve found a new #1 bookmark :)

Posted by Ideas At Random ... May 16, 2009 at 1:09 pm

It looks very pretty, did everyone mention that already? ;)

Posted by gaby de wilde May 16, 2009 at 1:24 pm

you just helped me champion the New York Times crossword puzzle. i heart you.

Posted by kat May 16, 2009 at 1:34 pm only shows the first couple of lines in IE8. Have you test on IE8?

Posted by TidyRead May 16, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    We are looking into this. Thanks for the note!

    Posted by The PR Team May 16, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Your blog design doesn’t work in ie8.

Posted by Donny May 16, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    More like IE8 doesn’t work on this blog. Gotta love MS wrecking backward compatibility.

    Posted by Chris May 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm

WA doesn’t seem to be able to access nielson ratings, perhaps proprietary? But much is publicly reported.

Posted by Chris May 16, 2009 at 3:06 pm

For some queries I am getting the correct input interpretation, but no results

distance to andromeda galaxy / distance to seattle

M 31 | current distance from Earth/distance | from Flagstaff, Arizona to Seattle,Washington

Posted by Chris May 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm

yeah – it works for luxemburg too. good job !!!! (even though it doesn’t know what exactly “martine” is ;-) )

Posted by mawa May 16, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Gets my vote – it gave an appropriate answer to “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck…”

On a more serious note, when asked for the surface area of the Earth, it also gave the relative
proportions of land and ocean area – nice to have some comparisons thrown in…

Very useful tool!

Posted by Chris May 16, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Great technology,

We’ll use it. Definitely.

We will even study how to extend with the benefits of your system.

Posted by Xavier May 16, 2009 at 3:43 pm

this query: life expectancy U.S. african american male

gave me this result:
United States | life expectancy | Africa | life expectancy | United States | male population

Posted by Chris May 16, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Great work! Infotainment at the worlds fingertips, brilliant.
Is there already smoke coming out of the datacentre? ;-P the servers are doing quite ok, considering the whole world is querying the most complex questions they can think of ;-)

Posted by Memeno May 16, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Very interesting presentation of information and data. I’m impressed with the possibilities.

Posted by Carl May 16, 2009 at 3:53 pm

This is pretty interesting! What language are u guys developing in? Firebug won’t tell me anythin grr lol

Posted by Aaron Mc Adam May 16, 2009 at 4:01 pm

“biggest cities” – works
“biggest cities france” – doesn’t

“highest movies by box office total” – works
“movies by highest box office total” – doesn’t
“steven spielberg highest movies by box office total” – also doesn’t ;)

waiting for community feature.

Posted by Maciek May 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm


Posted by Alfonso Arroyo Farias May 16, 2009 at 4:38 pm

felicidades,sin duda,son una TREMENDA ayuda!!! Congratulaciones

Posted by nelson ruiz May 16, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Took WolframAlpha for test drive on my areas of interest. Results intriguing, but disappointing, on most subject matter of interest (I’m a tech marketing exec and consultant). Results summarized here.

Posted by Craig Merrigan May 16, 2009 at 5:41 pm

I wanted to compare Bavaria with Austria, but it seems not to even know about the first. Sure, I’ll tell you that Munich, as well as Nuremberg are in Bavaria, Germany, but search for Bavaria, and the only thing that comes up is some historical data.

Posted by Bavaria Klaus May 16, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Good work guys. This is great. Gonna be used tons for my uni work.

Posted by Michael Wheeler May 16, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Personal best query
[us oil consumption / world oil consumption] / [us population / world population]

=5.342 (2004,2006 and 2007 estimates)

which means the U.S. uses 5.342 times the world wide per capita oil consumption, at least I think thats what it means!

Posted by Chris May 16, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Congratulation to everybody at Wolfram research.

I’ve spent a couple of hours playing with it and I’m impressed, it’s a really good start ! It’s not always easy to formulate your query correctly. but I feel like it’s getting there. I hope my hundreds of test where I got a “Cannot understand your query” will help your test dataset :)

Thanks for putting such a promising tool out there !

Posted by Alain Robert May 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Great job, looking forward for future improvements. Nice to have the power of Mathematica online. What a fun for all those working at Wolfram Research.

Posted by Ace Dimitrievski May 16, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Enjoyed watching turn on of site live on Many talented people thinking thru some unexpected results live no pretense. This all resulted in a great service, WOLFRAMALPHA, being presented to the WORLD….


Posted by bobo May 16, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Can’t interpret the phrase ‘tallest building in australia’ and crashes my browser every time I run a query….nice one, perfectly in line with my expectations from Wolfram.

Posted by sven monk May 16, 2009 at 8:24 pm

I enjoyed comparing enrollment numbers for universities and language comparisons. I was also amused at typing “vous et nul autre” and having it tell me that it doesn’t yet understand French. And yet…it knew this was French… :)

Posted by Shannon May 16, 2009 at 8:28 pm

the main page crashes every time on Firefox 3.1.

Posted by Ricardo May 16, 2009 at 8:43 pm

The search experience is quite great!

Posted by ??? May 16, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Very much enjoyed being a part of the turn-up as an engaged viewer and chatter on JTV Friday evening. Much thanks to Mr. Wolfram for all his work and that of all the people working with him. A massive undertaking which is much appreciated. The dedication and love of what you are doing in the development of the next stage of how we use the Internet is inspiring. I am hoping Mr. Wolfram in the not to distant future will be writing a book about this!

Posted by Mark Ollig May 16, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Congratulations! Thumbs up to the team!

Posted by Infopirat May 16, 2009 at 9:48 pm

This is a very interesting project! However, I’ve noticed some issues when routing browser requests through a Squid cache (Squid 2.5 in one case and Squid 2.6 in another).

For example, when going through the Squid cache: does NOT show graphics nor most of the data does show graphics and full data
Perhaps the configuration is different between these two addresses.

Posted by John Carlson May 16, 2009 at 9:55 pm

[...] While we’re still in the early stages of this long-term project, it is really gratifying to finally have the opportunity to invite you to participate in this project with us. Continue reading… [...]