The Wolfram|Alpha Launch Team


In the first 24 hours of our launch weekend, we received nearly 10,000 messages forwarded from the feedback forms on the bottom of each Wolfram|Alpha page. The compliments have been very gratifying.

The feedback has been insightful and entertaining. You’ve offered lots of suggestions, from additional domains and analysis to computations that have gone awry. We thought you might enjoy seeing some of the feedback we’ve received.

Input: NACA 61345 airfoil
User comment: “Not quite right. Suggest reference to the Theory of Wing Sections by Ira H. Abbott and A.E. Von Doenhoff.”
Wolfram|Alpha Team response: We plan to improve parsing for the 6 series airfoils. We started with the 4 digit case.

Input: piano
User comment: “Returned just the characters from ‘The Piano’ movie.”
Wolfram|Alpha Team response: We intend to add musical instruments.

Input: y> |x+1|
User comment: “The graph could use some work.”
Wolfram|Alpha Team response: We were trying to show as much information as possible and will continue to work on the displays.


Input: quarter pounder and fries
User comment: “Why does it mix McDonald’s and Burger King by default?”
Wolfram|Alpha Team response: Good question.

Input: dirham
User comment: “The internationally accepted unit of currency symbol for the United Arab Emirate’s Dirham is AED, not Arabic letters.”
Wolfram|Alpha Team response: Thanks for the information.

Input: Average minimum wage worldwide
User comment: “guess you guys don’t have this data?”
Wolfram|Alpha Team response: Does such data exist?

There have been quite a few suggestions about very small cities. Interestingly, we have the basic data for most of them. The issue tends to be that our algorithms for significance tagged them as not significant enough to be worth the potential risk of linguistic ambiguity from including their names in our lexicon. What we didn’t count on was the depth of usage. This was a bit shortsighted given that we encouraged you on the home page to try entering the name of a town. We’ll be figuring out better ways to handle this.

An illustrative example is the answer to the query “price of tea in china”. Correctly, it falls through. However, as an example of the opposite of artificial intelligence (the shortest path between two points) the two towns of Tea and Price are returned:

price tea china

You have also given us lots of notable historical events to add to date information.

And, even around mathematics you’ve offered sound feedback.

Input: (lambda x x.x)(lambda x x.x)
User comment: “This is a lambda expression known as the combinator. Would be nice if lambda expressions would at least be recognized for what they are, instead of assuming it’s multiplication or a list.”
Wolfram|Alpha Team response: Yes, we do know about combinators and perhaps the surprising thing for most people would be that they are on the list for implementation. We’ll try to make them a higher priority.

Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback. Please keep sending items to us. With your help, we’ll be able to make improvements to Wolfram|Alpha and better prioritize future enhancements.