Do Wolfram|Alpha Users Ever Go To Sleep?

May 18, 2009
The Wolfram|Alpha Launch Team
Posted by

It’s 3am on the East Coast and we can see from the sampling of our geoIP data that plenty of people are awake and using Wolfram|Alpha. Here’s a sample of 5 seconds on the map:

5 second sampling

Europe is just starting to wake up on a Monday morning and our query rate is starting to climb.


Monday morning thougth: the mother language in East Timor is portuguese, not english

Posted by Fernando May 18, 2009 at 2:38 am

Nope, never sleep!

Posted by everlasting_spring May 18, 2009 at 2:39 am

I’m the dot in Adelaide Australia, hunting around finding useful queries to list in my latest blog post. Congrats on the successful launch!

Posted by andymurd May 18, 2009 at 2:42 am

I’m that little red dot in East Europe. You have impressive service monitoring tools!

Posted by Andrei May 18, 2009 at 2:44 am

Well you shouldn’t have made it so awesome then should you! ;o)

Posted by Adam Law May 18, 2009 at 2:47 am

You see, Europe is not the cradle of knowledge and wisdom for nothing.

Posted by BoLe May 18, 2009 at 2:57 am

That’d make a hella sweet wallpaper, I’d admit. Sexy infographics always get me!

Posted by Dumpman May 18, 2009 at 3:06 am

Cool! Any chance we could see a video of the dots lighting up? Or more about how the searches break up over the course of a day between different countries?

Posted by mmdanziger May 18, 2009 at 3:11 am

WOW, nice query snapshot! Is this information accessible for everybody? If yes, where do I find it?

Wolfram|Alpha is so nice, I like it so much!

Posted by Nils Reich May 18, 2009 at 3:11 am

interesting that in Europe it seems to be mostly Germany, England and Benelux who are using WA. Hardly anything from Spain, France, Italy or even Wales, Scotland or Ireland…

Posted by tom May 18, 2009 at 3:15 am

Good morning from Germany ;-)

Posted by Tom May 18, 2009 at 3:22 am

My colleague Dave was really freaked out by the way the “sorry dave, site is down” message seemed to know who he was!

Posted by Beth May 18, 2009 at 3:27 am

Do Wolfram|Alpha engineers ever go to sleep?

Posted by mattyohe May 18, 2009 at 3:34 am

No, no we don’t. Do you?

The sun never sets on the Alpha empire….

Posted by Toph May 18, 2009 at 3:47 am

Any plans to make this chart in real time?

Posted by Wolfram May 18, 2009 at 4:12 am

I tried to reproduce this world-map with WolframAlpha – I only mean this projection of the world with the part highlighted where the sun is right now, because its cool – but it didn’t work out. Is it possible? How?

Thank you and keep up the good work!

Posted by Dr. Holger von Jouanne-Diedrich May 18, 2009 at 4:12 am

Map looks interesting, but the resolution is too low making it unreadable.

Posted by Mike Calverley May 18, 2009 at 4:18 am

No mum! Just one more query on polyhedra. Please!

Keep up the amazing work! Hagen.

Posted by Hagen Möbius May 18, 2009 at 4:25 am

well in today’s morning news on the bbc news website wolfram was featured in an article and i have to say its looking very good. very nice layout and colour scheme. i wouldn’t be at all surprised if google wanted to partner up with wolfram to expand its search capabilities.

Posted by Steve May 18, 2009 at 4:28 am

    Congrats! Great Job, Wolframalpha team. Keep up the good work going.

    Posted by Shashid May 18, 2009 at 1:29 pm

The netherlands is bleeding :’(

Posted by sander huisman May 18, 2009 at 4:32 am

Congratulation to WolframAlpha team, you make history in the Internet and Computation development.

It’s really a great attempt to make a systematic approach to the knowledge discovery in the world. However, one worry catch my mind after using WolframAlpha. The way that you prepare the result to the query is highly computational intensive. In fact, the target user of WolframAlpha (WfA) are likey to be some users using the result for serious use (e.g. R&D, teaching and some real estimates or calculation for engineering and design ..etec). As we all know, some simple computations or queries can go polynomical in term of computational steps and some even be non-determinatistic polynomic (NP problem). How can WfA, as a kind of trusted answer to some simple questions (which may in fact not so simple in term of computation) be consistently in giving satisfactorily expected result to satisfy the general user experiences. The computational hard problems may already been intelligently solved by your advanced algorithms and genius technical design but I really wonder how much computational power and electricity power you may require in future if WfA grows to the scale of only 1% of query to google.

The following is some interesting figures returned from WfA | 3.9 billion hits per day (Alexa estimate) | 710000 hits per day (Alexa estimate)

I hope WfA has a good plan for scaling up their servers with green energy otherwise we all will suffer eletricity shortage in future :-)

Thanks for your great work.


Posted by Benny Lam May 18, 2009 at 4:36 am

Nice picture! Maybe in the future you can make publicly available a stats page, with this and other pages (like bandwidth used, CPU used, queries per second, etc). It would be nice.

Posted by igo May 18, 2009 at 4:36 am

Too bad that are so many people that don`t realize (yet) the potential of WolframAlpha ! Since i`m already a fan i try to do my best to spread the word about WolframAlpha,you could do the same if you like it.(to all the fans out there)
I`m using it everyday,now…and it amaze me everytime!

Posted by Ionut Danet May 18, 2009 at 4:42 am

I liked this screenshot a great deal. Please add the other screens in the control room with captions.

Posted by Brian Gilbert May 18, 2009 at 4:53 am

I have not yet received a good answer to ANY of the questions I tried asking. Here is a selection of them:

“how far away is Mars” -> answer given, but calculated relative to where? the centre of earth? me?
“how far away is Adelaide” -> fail (could be calculated according to my GeoIP)
“how far away is Stephen Wolfram” -> fail
“where am I” -> returned result was off by about 25 kms.
“what is my IP address” -> does not give actual answer, but instead returns same result as “where am i”
“list of popes” -> fail
“who was the previous pope” -> fail.
“who was pope in 1066″ -> fail
“where is the world’s oldest tree”/”location oldest tree” -> fail
“number of species of tree” -> fail
“list of curry houses near hatfield” -> fail
“how far is hatfield from leicester square” -> fail.
“how far is hatfield from london” -> assumes wrong hatfield from my GeoIP!
“how far is hatfield, herts from london” -> fail
“How many people died in the Black Death?” -> fail
“Who died during 1995?’ -> fail
“How many goals did Pele score in his career?” -> fail

Posted by Nicholas Shanks May 18, 2009 at 5:10 am

oh.. I see my red dot! ;)

Posted by Maciek May 18, 2009 at 5:15 am

Amazing tool!

Can’t get enough of it. Addictive!

Posted by zx8754 May 18, 2009 at 5:40 am

Just saw the short piece on FOX and Friends. Short bit but peaked my interest. Now your site is a “bookmark”. I’ll bet the number of “hits” went up in the past few minutes. You need more exposure like this.

Posted by Gerry May 18, 2009 at 5:51 am

Hey im really loving wolframalpha!!! im really obsessed with it and i wanted to ask whether it would be possible to put that geoip map on the page? like a live feed? or even a screensaver connected to that stats screen? i would truly love that

Posted by Christian May 18, 2009 at 6:11 am

That query on the east coast of Australia is mine :)

Impressive software doing the cluster monitoring, did you guys write it just for WA?

Keep up the great work. Also any chance of a web crawler and more traditional search results complementing the WA data in the near future?

Posted by Taree May 18, 2009 at 6:20 am

I think that you guys should put up a java version of all your stat screens. I am interested to see how many queries per second, what kind of queries and things like that.

The TWiT interview was great!

Posted by Nathan May 18, 2009 at 6:27 am


Posted by doug spruill May 18, 2009 at 6:28 am

I was one of the red points in France!

Posted by Florent May 18, 2009 at 6:52 am

Allow people to click on your blog images to see bigger images. That’s a really cool looking picture if people could actually drill down and look at it.

Posted by Donny May 18, 2009 at 6:59 am

The announcements on commen e-mail servers are possibley helping the popularity in europe. Sorry guys, I may sound old school here, but the math application here will ruin the next generations ability to compute complex equations. As a biology teacher I had enough problems getting my students to think, without using the information (or misinformation) on wikipedia. This application is going to make it impossible for teachers to assign algebra homework.

Posted by Bio123 May 18, 2009 at 7:31 am

as you can see from my previous comment Word spell check has already ruined my ability to spell. :(

Posted by Bio123 May 18, 2009 at 7:33 am

Please implement recognizing your own comparisons etc. that are generated in the results.

Keep up the good work, this thing is a great first step.

Posted by Roger May 18, 2009 at 7:40 am

yes, I can tell:
Gateway Timeout
The following error occurred:
[code=GATEWAY_TIMEOUT] A gateway timeout occurred. The server is unreachable. Retry the request.

Posted by metju May 18, 2009 at 7:48 am

Hello Everyone out there!

Just tried WA, success was quite nice. However, where I am sceptic about is, that WA has to gather information before it’ll be able to present it. So everything you call up must have been important to somebody else before! There is another very interesting project on start in Germany, called QHASE ( In here you pay a small sum for your question which has to do with your actual or entered geographical position and the local inhabitants of an area around that position ( to be specified by the user) can give the answer and in turn can earn money with it. So with QHASE very intimate questions can asked and the plattform is purely driven by economics. That’s a bit more, what Web 2.0 is looking for, isn’t it?


Posted by Butcher May 18, 2009 at 8:17 am

this search-engine is simply amazing! great job guys!!

Posted by tony May 18, 2009 at 8:45 am

The future time there will be many users in China

Posted by dev May 18, 2009 at 9:48 am

We can’t sleep we are to busy trying out queries on the site I have some screenshots of some queries I did late last night

Posted by Steven P Sanderson II May 18, 2009 at 10:00 am

Not that stupefying, knowing that most of the students are working in the night (as the evening passes with the dates and parties))))). Also add that you are new and AMAZING!

Keep up developping!

Posted by Essay Geek May 18, 2009 at 10:11 am

There is lot of buzz about wolfram alpha, all are keen to test and know the features in wolfram alpha as quickly as possible and share it with their friends that’s how they are eager that’s y no more sleep for wolfram users.

Posted by venkat May 18, 2009 at 10:11 am

Will there be a Kindle version of book? Connection by subscription?

Posted by Richard Raborn MD May 18, 2009 at 10:15 am

I was one of the red points in France

Posted by PageMaster May 18, 2009 at 10:32 am

I just posted a review of Wolfram Alpha on my genealogy blog: I have reviewed it from a genealogical perspective; Can genealogical research benefit from Wolfram Alpha?

Posted by Joost May 18, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Mixing apples and oranges can be extremely harmful, be advised.

    Posted by BoLe May 18, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Congratulations!! I think that this will grow into something very wonderful, but it has a way to go.

Suggestions include:

1. The list of sources is the same for every question – just a list of about 30 different items – why can’t each question have the source it used instead of this generic list of 30, which is really rather useless? When I clicked on the link for getting the source of the individual question nothing happens. I see the link to the alphaInputRequest.jsp but nothing happens. I am doing this on a Mac – is this supposed to work or is it a bug with Safari on a Mac when using your site.

2. Language parser needs more work – I tried a computation and used the word “divided” instead of “/” and it didn’t understand the question. Other simple English queries not understood, like it knows the mass of the milky way galaxy and it knows the number of galaxies in the universe but can’t compute their product?? I tried “times” and “*” but no luck.

3. Would be nice to have the World Map showing the queries coming in as a page that people could view in real time. Even better would be a “movie” that shows the last user defineable time period (one frame per second for one hour would give a movie of about 60/24*60 or 150 seconds long or about 2.5 minutes or one frame per minute would give a movie of about 60*24/24 or about 60 seconds for an entire day). This would be really interesting to watch how the entire world utilizies WolframAlpha.

Overall it is pretty impressive of all the work that has been done so far and what you have accomplished. Especially want to give you kudos on showing this coming alive with all the issues and surprises involved. You took a huge risk in showing this level of behind the scenes detail and wanted to thank you very much for showing us this rarely seen example of taking a project like this live!!!!


Posted by Bob May 18, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Can I claim to be the first to suggest “woofing” as the acronym for using Wolfram. And of course the immortal credit if its adopted. After all I did invent Icarus’ wings [sorry about that, son - back to the drawing board] and most other useful Greek things…

Posted by daedalus May 18, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Keep on Woofing, I say!!

Posted by daedalus May 18, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Woof! Woof!

Posted by daedalus May 18, 2009 at 5:24 pm

You have two web usability errors on your home page. The search bar is missing a function identifier. Needs the word “Search” placed within the bar. This will guide users to the start point immediately, while acting as a call-to-action. And you are using an unfamiliar symbol as the search ‘go’ button. This will slow down a users understanding of how the search function is used. Better to use an arrow within a rectangular button shape. Using the ‘GO’ also helps. Otherwise, your site and product are amazing!!

Posted by Stuart May 19, 2009 at 12:01 am

Turkish health and when you really will be very good?

Posted by selcuk May 19, 2009 at 3:58 am

Good morning from Brasil. Great job girls!!

Posted by Orlando Rios May 19, 2009 at 6:41 am

Japan is never sleep!! :)

Posted by Mikele May 19, 2009 at 6:58 am

According to The West Australian, Woldfram|Alpha is a search engine for web pages.
I quote (from memory) from the article “While Google can tell you the closest Pizza place, Wolfram Alpha can tell you where to get the best pizza.”


Posted by Deco May 19, 2009 at 8:16 am

Umm.. (almost) no Russian users? Or just those unlucky 5 seconds?

Posted by Janis Veinbergs May 19, 2009 at 11:38 am

Congrats from Turkey. Very good feature for science and mathematics for the web. Keep going.

Posted by zafer May 19, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Iwas born in 1953.
College it was with Logarythm Tables.
First exam at University was with slide ruler.

If only I’ve had all this, this is Disney Land for science, congratulations, congratulations.
Nothing else to say, only best wishes,

Davor Turina Dipl. Ing.

Posted by Davor Turina May 19, 2009 at 8:01 pm