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Stephen Wolfram

The First Week of Wolfram|Alpha: Thank You!

May 26, 2009 —
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It’s now a week since we officially launched Wolfram|Alpha into the world.

It’s been a great first week.

Approaching 100 million queries. Lots of compliments.

But for me the most striking thing is how many people want to help Wolfram|Alpha succeed.

Making the world’s knowledge computable is a huge undertaking.

And it’s wonderful to see all the help we’re being offered in doing it.

We’ve worked hard to construct a framework. But to realize the full promise of computable knowledge, we need a lot of input and support.

And it’s remarkable that in just one week, there’s already a whole community springing up around Wolfram|Alpha—with our own Community site and many independent sites.

We’ve had lots of feedback from lots of people. In fact, in the past 7 days, we’ve had no less than 55,000 feedback messages posted to the site.

Suggestions. Encouragements. Corrections. Obvious things. Incredibly obscure things.

At some level, it’s quite overwhelming. But it’s also incredibly helpful.

We’re going to be dramatically ramping up our processing of feedback messages.

But already we’ve made several hundred good changes to Wolfram|Alpha based specifically on messages left in the “Give us your feedback” form on the site.

This is the beginning of a long journey. But it’s clear we’re going to have a lot of people helping us.

And together I believe we can build something quite amazing.

But, OK, so what are the immediate plans?

We’ve learned a lot this week.

I’m happy to say that all the testing we did on our infrastructure paid off. There’ll be a few improvements in the next week, but basically our systems seem to be running quite smoothly.

As we were developing Wolfram|Alpha, we knew that we could only get it so far before “releasing it into the wild,” and seeing how it behaved with large numbers of actual users.

We knew that it—and we—needed to learn from large amounts of actual usage and feedback.

No doubt it’ll be a kind of coevolution: people who use Wolfram|Alpha will evolve their patterns of usage, while Wolfram|Alpha itself will evolve from the way it is used.

And as of this week, that process has energetically started.

We’ve found that the general subject areas we chose to cover initially were sensible, though certainly usage has not been uniform across them. And almost all the most-requested new areas are ones that were already on our general to-do list (though there have been a lot of great suggestions about specifics of what to cover, and how).

When we started to develop Wolfram|Alpha, one of the biggest unknowns was whether it would be at all possible to handle free-form linguistic input.

Well, after processing nearly 100 million queries this last week, I think we have an answer: it definitely will be possible.

There’s still a lot of polishing to do. But it’s clear that the concept of free-form linguistic input is going to work—and very well.

Our metrics indicate that about 75% of all inputs given this week were immediately and completely interpreted by the system—and the vast majority of the interpretations seem to have been exactly as the user intended.

But that still means that 25% of all inputs “fell through” without immediate, complete interpretation. In most of those cases, we were still able to give pointers to relevant partial interpretations. But our goal is to be able to interpret essentially any reasonable input immediately and completely.

In developing Wolfram|Alpha, we collected and analyzed many large corpuses of linguistic data. But all of that data now pales compared to what the users of Wolfram|Alpha in its first week have provided: in essence a focused, 25-million-item linguistic to-do list.

Along with other members of the team, I’ve spent quite a bit of the past few days analyzing anonymous versions of our “fallthrough logs”.

They’re fascinating—and extremely encouraging.

There are little bugs (e.g. failure to handle certain ISO Latin-2 characters from browsers) that show up over and over again—and will of course get fixed quickly.

There is some fraction of cases where the system just don’t know about the relevant domain yet.

There are others where the input isn’t in English, or requires more aggressive spelling correction than we’re comfortable doing yet. (Spelling correction is vastly more complicated in Wolfram|Alpha because of the diversity of domains and notations it handles.)

But if one looks at what’s left over, clear patterns begin to emerge: definite linguistic forms that for one reason or another we haven’t handled yet. There are lots and lots of them. And it’ll take lots of effort and clever algorithms to deal with them all. But it’s clear that it’s going to be possible.

And what’s encouraging is that some of the gnarliest areas—like math notation—where we spent a lot of effort during our initial development phase, seem already to be working extremely well.

I’m not precisely sure what the improvement curve for Wolfram|Alpha linguistics will be like. Not least because it depends not only on the system itself, but also on the evolution of the typical inputs that users give it.

But I can already see that there’s going to be rapid improvement in a lot of places, as we find new algorithms to cover the linguistics that our logs have so conveniently revealed.

Our experience with Mathematica over the past 23 years has given us many good processes for releasing successive versions of software. But with Wolfram|Alpha we’re going to be doing something somewhat different: we’re going to be doing continuous releases.

Wolfram|Alpha has lots of data that’s continually updated from real-time feeds. But we’ve been setting things up so that everything in the system—whether it’s data or code—can be updated at any time.

There are many challenges here. The greatest is probably validating that changes that are made are really for the better. Particularly with linguistics, it’s all too easy for a small change to have large and undesirable effects.

By using the symbolic character of our underlying Mathematica implementation, we can often effectively validate our code symbolically. But we also have to just run large numbers of tests, compare their results with what happened before, and as automatically as possible, determine if the new results are improvements.

We’re still tuning this process. But we anticipate that in the end we’ll be able to roll out changes to Wolfram|Alpha extremely frequently.

This past week we already rolled out a few hundred changes. In the next week or so, we’ll be rolling out many more.

In the few weeks before the launch of Wolfram|Alpha last week, we became very conservative about changes—so now we have a lot of improvements and interesting new functionality saved up that we hope to be able to roll out very shortly.

Our general approach is to pursue a portfolio of development projects for Wolfram|Alpha—from short-term to long-term.

And we’re not only doing technical development, but also building up the team and business structure to support it.

But in this past week, the most important thing we’ve learned is that we’re not alone.

There’s an immense number of people who want to help make Wolfram|Alpha succeed.

It’s a great feeling. And it makes me look with great optimism and enthusiasm at the huge project that lies before us.

Thanks, everyone! These are going to be exciting weeks and months and years ahead with Wolfram|Alpha.


So Nice !

Posted by Sohrab May 26, 2009 at 11:23 am

Good to hear from you Mr. Wolfram.
Wolfram Research has done a great job so far and I wilI definately look forward to seeing WolframAlpha evolve.

Posted by David May 26, 2009 at 11:24 am

Yes Stephen, I am a 55 years old Spaniard technical translator and I am all for supporting W|A and telling everybody about it. Right now I am writing to a member of the Spanish Parliament about W|A.

W|A is fantastic!!! this is my town: :-)


Posted by Jorge García Gil May 26, 2009 at 11:36 am

Well done. Thanks.

Posted by Sommer May 26, 2009 at 12:02 pm

The W|A free-form linguistic input is, in effect, an interface to an arbitrary number of “calculators.”

Many of these might be useful as independent calculators in and of themselves with appropriate input fields. For these one would bypass the free-form linguistic input interface.

One possible trajectory for the addition of features to W|A would be to create an ever expanding set of these calculators and a searchable index of them.

Also a registered user could create his or her own page of such calculators. Each one would take the user to the appropriate W|A results page with thte traditional free-form linguistic input in its field.

This would also short circuit the current, sometimes reactive, opinions to W|A that it does not have “everything.” And it would give another point of customized entry for users wishing to reuse W|A over and again for their own universe of calculations.

An on-line forum or ranking of interesting (top 50, for example as in the Apple Widgets interface) would point people to interesting starting points for creation of their own interface sets. And any one calculator takes the user to the W|A page for its particular result, permitting them to still drill down and explore in the free-form linguistic input direction.

Just some thoughts for the readers of this forum to comment on as to whether this approach would be useful to them….

Posted by David Reiss May 26, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    David: The idea of having a page customized to an individual user’s favorite, often repeated queries, and modifiable to a particular request, would be great. Not having to re-enter our ofter used queries ease the use of W|A and hopefully draw even more people to W|A in their daily internet visits. By modifiable, I mean perhaps a change in date, country, city, stock symbol, or math calculation, etc. Perhaps being able to build something like our own unique “Widgets” based on W|A and giving the user the ability to “name” them, is something the team could consider.

    Posted by Bob D. May 26, 2009 at 5:19 pm

The first time I used Mathematica I fell in love with it. The first time I discovered with Mathematica 6 the possibility to access to a huge amount of data, from chemical elements to city populations I fell again in love.

Guess what. You did it again! I’ve been all the week testing W|A, participating in the Community, reading the Blog… and I just can say that (despite some little stuff), it’s amazing!

Thank you Stephen! Thank you W|A team!

Posted by Dieguico May 26, 2009 at 12:13 pm

there are serious problems with 3d plots.
scaling on y axis doesn’t work. for example, i write “plot sinx+siny from x=0 to 4, y=0 to 4″ and it comes out wrong – the y axis values are from -8 to 8 or something like this, but on the top it gets it right.

Posted by meme May 26, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I have mentioned these points on the Forum but as you raise them here I will repeat them.
1. Input should follow the rules of English Grammar even if you have to improve English grammar. Why start from scratch?
2. Input should be in English as it would waste a lot of effort to cope with 231 languages which are constantly changing. The World is moving to English anyway. It is more worthwhile for a serious user to learn English than to communicate with the world and W|A in his original language.

Posted by Brian Gilbert May 26, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Hello Brian,

    I wouldn’t be too sure about a world moving to English. America itself is moving to Spanish.

    One of the solutions here might be ‘language portals’ that take input in a certain language and translate that into english, and then feed that to the original W|A. Primitive, but a place to start while there’s nothing else. Soon you’ll be seeing entrepreneurs setting up websites like that.

    Posted by Jack May 27, 2009 at 6:49 am

    I wouldn’t be so quick to say that all languages other than English are becoming useless in this world, nor that a user should learn a new language just to use this website. Even if the world was moving to English, it would be nice to be able to access this website in other languages.

    That being said, I don’t think W|A should try to work in more than, say, five languages, because the last thing we want is to have another language implemented, which might help a small fraction of people, over a new feature, which would help the larger W|A community.

    Using a script to translate a query to English, and perhaps the response back into another language, would be a quick band-aid which would work for a long time. Of course translators often use quirky syntax in their translations, and W|A may have a harder time understanding translated English than natural English.

    Great job on the site, by the way.

    Posted by Ethan May 28, 2009 at 8:02 am

      …and don’t forget that there are many flavours of English, each with subtle and not-so-subtle differences in vocabulary, spelling, syntax and so on.

      Different and getting differenter!

      Posted by Sam Dutton May 29, 2009 at 5:51 am

Is wolframalpha traded on the stock market?

Posted by Bryan May 26, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Bryan,

    Wolfram|Alpha is not publicly traded. Wolfram Research is a privately held company. Thanks!

    Posted by The PR Team May 26, 2009 at 2:38 pm

      Most promising! I

      Posted by eric tieskens May 28, 2009 at 11:36 am

      Why not go public? I, for one, would be delighted to invest in such a wonderful and clever enterprise.

      Posted by giorgio May 28, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Dr. Wolfram,
I represent an inventor community. Is there any opportunity for them with WA?
Best regards,

Posted by Steve Lanning May 26, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Dr. Wolfram–To correct my last post. I represent an INVESTOR (not inventor) community!
My apologies for my error.

Posted by Steve Lanning May 26, 2009 at 2:17 pm

API implementation in the near future would be nice ;)

Posted by Mark F May 26, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Wolfram|Alpha have some of misinformation about arabic, but i think it’s more deep problem than just arabic Please fix that.
look at this results for searching about Arabic Language*C.arabic-_*Language-

but when i search for Saudi Arabia it give me this look at the population count

what i don’t understand is why W|A have the answer in some search results, but get it wrong on other search about closely related subjects?

Posted by abdo A May 26, 2009 at 3:00 pm

It would be great if there was some sort of feed detailing exactly what changes are being/have been made in order for people who have sent in feedback to know that their suggestion has been dealt with, and so that we can try out all these nifty new features of yours.

Posted by Ctheiz May 26, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I agree, and I was going to post the same suggestion. Letting other users test putative fixes and similar input might also reveal related bugs which slipped through.

    Posted by Andrew May 26, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Wolfram Alpha is a truly great concept. But IMHO broadening the content should have priority over linguistically accurate parsing of free form inputs. Why shoud it ask “What is the highest mountain in Oceania?” when I could just type “highest mountain oceania”. WA doesn’t give an answer to this, by the way.

Posted by klioli May 26, 2009 at 4:07 pm


    worldwide, a lot of non-english speaking people can come up with the keyword version “highest mountain oceania” while they would have trouble making a correct sentence like “What is the highest mountain in Oceania?”

    Keyword phrases are also easier to translate between languages.

    Posted by Jack May 27, 2009 at 6:52 am

Really, a great tool, for a moment we get all the information, for example about web domain or something else.

Posted by Goran Ani?i? May 26, 2009 at 4:34 pm

And while we’re at it. “Alps” gives a whopping selection of a 31 Mountains, most of them quite obscure. Of these I only know 2, although I live in Munich which is not too far away from the Alps. and I certainly know more than 30 important mountains in the alps.

And it gets really awkward when the table shows shows “4634 m (Dufourspitze)” as highest mountain. Of course the highest mountain in the Alps is Mont Blanc with 4.808 m. Obviously geographic data still has many “white areas”

Posted by klioli May 26, 2009 at 4:38 pm

I have always found mathematical searches very limited in Google search. Like search for 1/n and Google will come up with all sorts of unrelated results. No worries for Google because they try to approach different class of users. But simply loved the WolframAlpha. Precise and concise information. Very required for mathematical statistical searches to be concise too.

I would suggest to expand the knowledge base but by keeping it precise. The class which will use this knows about wikipedia and of course google. so, they expect what they cant get all the time elsewhere, technically precise information in better organized fashion (without dangling pointers).

If this is achieved, thats great. looking at the first face of alpha, it doesnt look far away. Great work wolfram|Alpha team..

Posted by Php May 26, 2009 at 5:47 pm

hi Stephen..
reading online news by Yomiuri shimbun..i came through to your site…i dont know much about you as i didnt explore…but i have a feeling…this is something real interesting that you have produced..i just assure you that I ld be your real fan for the years ahead…keep up the good work and count on me a friend in Japan…cheers

Posted by Nawaz May 26, 2009 at 6:28 pm

It would be nice to merge a question-answering natural-language artificial intelligence (AI) that I have built, called MindForth because it is written in Forth, with Wolfram Alpha for a kind of omniscient, unstumpable Global Brain, but I suppose that such things will take a while. -A.T. Murray

Posted by A.T. Murray May 26, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Dear Sir,
What a great service provided and true utilization of web by you. I really appriciate all of the group members who have contributed their efforts and brain to accomplish such a brillient task. Shahbaz Ahmad

Posted by Shahbaz Ahmad May 26, 2009 at 11:46 pm

great job!!!

Posted by trip May 27, 2009 at 3:35 am

wish you more constant success wishes. And, hopefully you will include web search like google as well.

Posted by Damodar Bashyal May 27, 2009 at 6:46 am

Dr Wolfram, Thank you, thank you, thank you! for letting us stand on your giant shoulders so we could see further, and for making the web useful to engineers again. This is my Wikipedia, Google, and all my desktop tools combined. May your tribe increase. How can I help? I could add stuff, proof-read, file bugs, add suggestions, anything.

Posted by Chyetanya Kunte May 27, 2009 at 7:20 am

The W|A team cannot map the knowledge of the universe alone.

We need a more scalable solution – a model incorporating peer reviewed , user-submitted data .

I suggest that W|A should allows “plugins” or self submitted data sources which add additional knowledge domains.
Each “Data source” should be rated by users for accuracy (“peer-reviews”).
Each user should be able to choose which “data sources” he trusts.
This should be possible also based on the peer-review rating .
Users should be able to select “All data sources with rating > 7″ .

Posted by Daba May 27, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Thats a great idea :)

    Posted by Tom May 27, 2009 at 9:52 am

      yes, reliability of the info seems very important for me too, including minority opinions about all those things that are, like mathematics itself, never completely computablel.

      if ever you offer shares, i would invest, just because i like this firm.

      Posted by joris verrips May 29, 2009 at 3:50 am

Great Job. Good luck.

Posted by Albi May 27, 2009 at 9:36 am

It would be nice if it supports the uk pound sign £
simple example:
$100 * $100 works ok
£100 * £100 fails

Great work otherwise, amazing, keep up the good !!

Posted by Richard Claxton May 27, 2009 at 11:27 am

I hope translation to spanish in the future
Good luck!

Posted by Diego Ariel Vega May 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Amazing work, contribution to the knowledge is always wanted. WFA wish you all the success and looking forward to seeing you getting better and better. Keep it up

Posted by Eloumri May 27, 2009 at 1:57 pm

I am in love with Wolfram Alpha!

I can’t explain this:

“next total solar eclipse in Italy”
is in
“September 3, 2081″


“next total solar eclipse from Rome”
“(none through 2051)”


Posted by Marco May 27, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Apparently, Rome isn’t on the path of totality. In other words, there wont be a TOTAL solar eclipse in Rome, Italy until sometime after 2051, but other parts of Italy will see one.

    Posted by Doug May 28, 2009 at 10:49 pm

55 000 feedbacks first week.
Several hundred suggestions have been handled. Maybe 500?
55000/500 = 110 weeks required to handle the suggestions of the first week?
Sounds as if a scalable solution is needed, some kind of wikipedian element.
Keep going!

Posted by Ingolf Dahl May 27, 2009 at 3:40 pm

There are no examples on NKS, in the section “Examples”. “NKS as general topic” simply jumps to Cellular Automata. I expected that this query would return the examples of modelled growth of plants, animals, showflakes and so on.

Many thanks for starting this fantastic web-based service!

Posted by Georgii May 27, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Thank you for your in-depth report, and keep up the good work! :)
At the risk of repeating others ad nauseum, please could you upload a list/summary of fixes? Every day I try ‘population of england’, ‘warp 5 in mph’, etc., but the answer’s always the same.

Posted by Joe May 27, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Good day sir…
Because I know the possibilities of mathematica a very valuable site.
But I think that is not exist solution of transcendental equations.And talking about groups rather than individual solutions to solve a complex transcendental in period distance.Also primary as x ^ Cos (x) or log (x) ^ x is not have a single solution but groups Complex solutions or real roots.i have the way for general solution in this cases.I wait ur answer ..
Best regards

Posted by n.mantzas May 28, 2009 at 3:38 am

Great Job, total encouragement from my direction

Posted by Lessana May 28, 2009 at 10:03 am

it’s like a superman comes into real !
jaw-dropping result !
keep up the good work :)

Posted by K May 28, 2009 at 11:19 am

It’s awesome :) “What is the population of ukraine?” query gives correct answer!!

Posted by AIR May 28, 2009 at 11:31 am

Love you guys. Keep it up!

Posted by Zach May 28, 2009 at 11:39 am

thanks to wolfram

Posted by munier shikh May 28, 2009 at 11:50 am

Amazing website! I love it! Keep on developing even more jaw dropping programs! You guys can be really proud! Bye bye google, hello Wolfram | Alpha ! :D

Posted by Anna May 28, 2009 at 11:58 am

All very good but until you understand that England is part of the United Kingdom, not the totality of the United Kingdom, and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all exist as valid countries (rather than a historical country, a small town in England and just plain not existing) it’s a bit of a no-goer to me! To get basic facts like this wrong from the outset is just too bad.

Posted by James May 28, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    You are quite wrong: those areas of the United Kingdom do not “exist as valid countries” in the same sense that all countries that belong to the United Nations are recognized as countries. Do not confuse the special allowances made for them by certain international bodies, for example FIFA, as meaning they are “valid countries”. Just ask at any British High Commission, they will be able to explain it to you.

    Posted by Dave May 28, 2009 at 9:27 pm

      James is right.

      Wolfram|Alpha interprets England as United Kingdom, full name United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, alternate names Britain, Great Britain, UK.

      This is completely wrong: England is a part of the UK, not a synonym for it.

      The ‘historical country’ interpretation is dodgy as well — based on a contentious Wikipedia article referring to the ‘Kingdom of England’, which apparently dated from 927AD to 1707.

      Much as I want to love Wolfram|Alpha, I’ve been frustrated by its inability to answer my questions!

      For most of my queries, I get the same old brush- off: ‘Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your
      input’. For example:

      * ‘What is the population of Adelaide’ (capital of South Australia)
      * ‘Tim Winton prizes’ (Australian writer)
      * ‘where is Kapunda’ (town in South Australia — misinterpreted as an animal, kakunda)
      * ‘population of Uttar Pradesh’
      * ‘where is Wandsworth, London’ (Wandsworth is a London borough — gives a ‘did you mean wadsworth’ response)
      * ‘why is DAB radio delayed’ (and variations)

      All these (dare I say it) get a reasonable response from Google and make Wolfram|Alpha look very US-centric.

      Posted by Sam Dutton May 29, 2009 at 6:18 am

Thanks from Sweden, we love wolframalpha here. It´s so amazing it can work so good. When we tested it we couldn´t stop to be absolutly impressed. Good work!!

Posted by Lars Lindberg May 28, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Yay this helps me with maths i can’t do with a calculator like x stuff :)
and i like finding out how long I’ve been alive!
But wolframalpha isn’t catchy enough, I found myself wanting to say ‘I like googling how long i’ve been alive’ just then, but it wasn’t on google obviously! If it was just alpha, or walpha or something, maybe framalpha that might be better, but people will never say ‘Wolframalpha it”, because it’s too long and has wolf in it. Oo i like framalpha now it reminds me of frappuccino at starbucks :) or walpha sounds like wolf-alpha mixed together.

Posted by smile_X May 28, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Like, totally!

    Posted by 2giraffes May 28, 2009 at 6:45 pm

so nice

Posted by amer May 28, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Hi, it is like a dream.

Posted by Nail May 28, 2009 at 3:46 pm

WA is a very good concept and is definitely a landmark in computing technology. I do not doubt it’s ability to process data, but the data that it draws from seems to be a little weak. The data it uses also shows that some areas of knowledge (such as geography, population, general statistics) have been focused on while others (such as historical events, society, politics) have tragically scene little or in some cases no attention. The database that this engine draws from needs to be expanded. It seems to me that a sort of beta version that uses wikipedia or some other database could be made available until a more permanent set of data can be compiled. I think this could give WA a vast boost, at least in the short term.

Posted by Joseph May 28, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Great knowledge machine. Thank you.

Regarding semantic processing, yes – there is still much to do.
For example, entering “intersection line with circle” provides good results, but “line intersection with circle” could not be handled. The proposed input to try “line circle” shows just a circle – no line in sight.

Posted by Jacob May 28, 2009 at 7:15 pm

How exciting. I am a 76 year old retired Dean of Engineering at USF and Distinguished Professor emeritus. This is one of the most potentially beneficial things I have heard about and I congratulate you on the exciting but unbelievably complex and expansive effort. It is my fervent hope that I may be able to constructively contribute to this effort.

Thank you for informing me of this effort. I will definitely be watching your progress and try to digest its significance.


Posted by Glenn A. Burdick May 28, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Dear W-A:

You asked in the pre-release version if one was an expert in a specific area. I cannot find that now. I am interested in making a specific technical proposal in regard to handling of solar eclipses in W-A, especially historical ones. Historians and others need and can benefit from access to accurate back-calculations representing the best available outputs: getting technical here now, 1. Ephemeris (should probably be the long-term integrated ephemeris of NASA/JPL), and 2. Best ‘correction’ Delta-T (the observed, from ancient astronomical observations) actual earth-rotation (which is not intertial due to tidal interaction with the moon) and must be observed and modeled (simple quadratic) and put into the computations. I have noted in earlier feedback reports the indication that W-A is at the moment not reliable for ancient eclipses. My PhD thesis title was: “An Analysis of the Ancient Astronomical Observations with the Implications for Geophysics and Cosmology.” The Delta-T model was the principal result, along with developing a set of ancient observations that have useful (indeed exemplary) value and consistency.

I would like to be put in contact with the person in W-A who deals with this specific computation. I do not think it will be difficult or time-consuming for us to work this out and make W-A able to provide a useful resource for many disciplines, not just astronomers: historians and the general public interested in the role of astronomical events of this kind in history and human civilization. A surprisingly high level of accuracy is possible now using the best available sources (not difficult to implement computationally) all the way back to 1000BC and earlier. Uncertainties at epoch 300BC of well under a degree in longitude (and essentially perfect latitudes) for paths on the surface of the earth is feasible. The main residual uncertainties will be in earth-time (longitude). The existence of such a W-A resource also makes it possible to bootstrap: to improve this time-polynomial by using the W-A eclipse paths to compare with further historical observations and is an impetus for historians and astronomers to take that development seriously to mutual benefit.

Best regards, Paul Muller PhD FRAS.

Posted by Paul Muller May 28, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Great job! I’m standing on my chair.
“World languages”: English, Spanish, French, German. Later (maybe): Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese.

Posted by Jack May 29, 2009 at 2:24 am

I love W|A, not only for what it can do now, but so much more for the possibilities it opens up. I can see a whole series of technical revolutions based on W|A.
Just one example: Think of an artificial intelligence that you can speak with, and it’s got all the W|A knowledge to talk about. That, again, could be used for a hundred other things, from social experiments to truly intelligent computer game characters.

I believe Wolfram|Alpha is the starting spark of a chain reaction that, in the next years or decades, will influence many aspects of our lives. Or at the very least, I believe it CAN be this.

Congratulations for the fantastic work you’ve done, W|A team!

Posted by Heiner May 29, 2009 at 2:39 am

    Congratulations for nothing.

    Posted by Vermillion Popp May 29, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    W|A is truly amazing. It has all the information or at least what an engineering student will require. Moreover. Things of day to day relevance be it the temperature of a small town in India or info about a university. It has it all.

    You have rightly pointed out the fact that it paves way for a series of developments based on it. Artificial Intelligence is the dome.

    Another creditable thing that the W|A team has done is that it has not only just launched W|A it has also introduced gadgets and other apps.

    Awesome work W|A team. Hope to see more improvements and features. As of now, hats off

    Posted by Abhishek Gupta June 1, 2009 at 1:34 am

I’ve been watching the launch with great interest – congratulations to the Wolfram Alpha Team for their success and this type of ‘knowledge engine’ surely herals a new era in how information is managed on the web. It is certainly motivating others such as Goggle. Microsoft etc to improve.

As to Wolfram Alpha itself.. I must admit though, that its not what I was hoping for. I was hoping that it would be able do novel cross-domain comparions between data-sets ; eg. what is the relation between crime and income? what is the relation between omega-3 intake and heart disease? But it can’t do any of that. Perhaps one day?

It’s clearly not designed from a ‘cognitive science’ perspective – a query on ‘Bayes Theorem’ (the most basic formula of moden statistics and applied math) finds nothing! I must point out that until a global ontology is introduced, what it will be able to do will remain very limited. For example, the query ‘life expectancy male’ succeeds. The query ‘Stephen Wolfram’ succeeds. But try to combine these queries and the limitations of Alpha are quickly exposed; the query ‘life expectancy of Stephen Wolfram’ fails (Alpha clearly can’t engage in the type of cross-domain reasoning I was hoping for – without an ontology it can’t know that Stephen Wolfram is a male).

Nonetheless,Alpha has a lovely interface and presents really nice summaries and graphics of lots of data. It has lots of useful data and lots of nice little utilities and calculational abilities. This is something new. For this reason it will find success.

Still, I would love to see the team turn their attention to the cognitive sciences, ontology and semantic web perspectives. But that would be another project ;)


Posted by Marc Geddes May 29, 2009 at 4:05 am

I would like to be able to type in a line plus name of the poet, and then get the next line.

Posted by joris verrips May 29, 2009 at 4:09 am

1 pulgada (castellano) = 1 inch (english) pero ustedes señalan 1 pulgada=0’94 inchs

Posted by Juan Fernández May 29, 2009 at 4:57 am

Congratulations to all at the WA project and Team Skynet.

Posted by Ian Prietz May 29, 2009 at 8:29 am

I love W|A, I’ve been watching the launch with great interest – congratulations to the Wolfram Alpha Team for their success. It has lots of useful data and lots of nice little utilities and calculational abilities.
That, could be used for a hundred other things, from social experiments to truly intelligent computer sciences.
Portugal, lisbon

Posted by henrique May 29, 2009 at 9:37 am

HI, You are doing good, but are you going to give , how to do the math after you after we try and do the problem.

Posted by john keeley May 29, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Hi, you are doing, very good, keep it up,please. Also are you going to put, how to do the math problem.

Posted by john keeley May 29, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I had heard about wolfram alpha on the news–it’s fascinating, and came at the right time! As a math educator, the possibilities are endless, and I will use it for instruction, personal and professional interests.

Posted by Lilly Pineda May 29, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Hi, Congratulations to the Wolfram Alpha Team for this marvelous work you’ve done. It has lots of useful and interesting data.

Posted by Guy Reuland May 29, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Capital markets are unstable. In the past there was no way to make them stable. But today we have computer power that can be used to make them stable.

By using the greater computer power of today we can have a much higher turn over of capital in the capital market. This higher turnover will make the market harder to game or control and the market will no longer have the unstable run ups or declines. Who can change or control the market when say 20% of the capital is trading each day?

So now that we have the compute power to provide for all these transactions that will smooth out the market how do we force people to turn over at a rate of 20% a day? Easy, put a cap gains tax of 0% (zero) on all gains of 7 days or less and put a cap gains tax of 90% of all gains of more than 7 days.

The likes of Yahoo, Micosoft and/or Sun Micro Systems will give us the systems that will provide automated software agents to support turning over one’s investments every 7 days (based on the specs you give the agent).

A system like this will make the financial markets work as smoothly as the local fruit market.

Posted by Martyn Strong May 29, 2009 at 2:50 pm

I think W|A will have a significant impact on math education. I have published my thoughts in a blog post here:

Posted by Maria H. Andersen May 29, 2009 at 4:31 pm

You should at some point address the larger class of questions that people don’t know how to ask. Most of us today are still at that stage when it comes to formulating our questions about the world, or even about problems that face us. Providing the context of a large data set already helps to frame hastily-asked questions, and to provide additional knowledge without waiting for precise followup questions.

However, this can be extended a few magnitudes further. A good question-asking session should last significantly longer than the current “type a string into a search engine” process. And refining/expanding/improving/sharing a search needs to become a first-class item in the constellation of sharable knowledge. Clustering related searches over time, and using those clusters to inform what information is presented to future questioners who touch on that cluster, is something that hasn’t normally been associated with search (even in the Reference Librarian and not Search Engine sense).

Posted by SJ May 29, 2009 at 5:36 pm

What happened to my posting of yesterday on the subject of eclipse computations in W-A and my offer to get involved? It has not been posted. If there is a reason I would like to know what it is. Perhaps it is lost in cyberspace. I have a copy and can resubmit.

Best regards, Paul Muller PhD FRAS

Posted by Paul Muller May 29, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Please ignore my earlier comment: I have just discovered the small type live-line ‘older comments’. Perhaps you could embolden that! It was very hard to notice. Best of luck, thanks, Paul.

Posted by Paul Muller May 29, 2009 at 9:16 pm

I am really very very happy to see Wolframalpha. We needed it. A machine that can compute queries. It’s a tremendously extraordinary thought to do something like this. I would also like to mention here that I am using wolframalpha since it’s first day. The results are great. I told some of my colleagues about it, and they are amazed too.

But I would also suggest to keep an option to look for, let’s say, traditional queries. For example, if a search query is ‘benefits of phytoremediation’ – then wolframalpha is not sure what to do with the input. But this is a science related search. So Wolframalpha should be able to return an answer, I mean to offer results from traditional searches (like what you would find in Google or Yahoo). Then it will be a complete machine.

Posted by Shams May 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm

This is a very exciting addition to the internet. I’ve been playing with it for a week or so and am gradually learning how to adapt to use it more efficiently.

Wolfram Research has been responsible for a number of the more interesting developments in math and computation over this past decade, and it’s very thrilling to see something new from WRC.

Thank you for this intriguing new device.


Posted by Michael Crowley May 30, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Sorry for my bad english

Is a beatiful form of learn mathematics (my speciality).

Best Regards
Aldo Gil, Mechanical Engineering-Lima-Perú

Posted by Aldo Gil Crisóstomo May 30, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Are there plans for Wolfram|Alpha to do logical deduction in the decidable logical systems formulated in the Twentieth Century? There are likely to be many who would be willing to help out on such an effort.

Posted by Layman E. Allen May 31, 2009 at 1:11 am

tanks for suggestion

Posted by hessam May 31, 2009 at 5:05 am

I think that, W.A. is the first step in new age of web. Wolfram Alpha is net brain, not net legs like the others.
Thanks, poeple.!
Dragan, Serbia

Posted by Dragan May 31, 2009 at 7:14 am

Excellent work! I was wondering how you verify your data sources and individual facts that are not derived from computation. It seems that the implementation of some kind of accuracy scoring algorithm would be helpful in determining the quality of overlapping data sources and individual facts. It could also be used in improving result relevancy. Have you considered to allow users to verify or dispute a fact, possibly even correct it.

Great stuff!

Posted by Oliver Eberle May 31, 2009 at 10:47 am

The use of pale blue on white backgroung makes it very hard to read. You should have had a human being look at this.

Posted by Ray Wicks June 1, 2009 at 8:11 am

two graphs at bottom of poison distribution are wrong. the graphs for mu=7 and 12 should look like mu=2.

Posted by Ray Wicks June 1, 2009 at 8:45 am

All the best!

Posted by dai June 1, 2009 at 1:47 pm

As a high school Mathematics teacher, WolframAlpha is becoming part of my classes. For example, the interface allowed me to set an accessible assignment on using continued fractions to produce rational approximations for transcendental numbers. Many thanks.

Posted by Mike Shepperd June 1, 2009 at 6:49 pm

First of all my best wishes for the success of your product wolfram alfa. Eversince the advent of Wikipedia I have been contemplating of a tool that could by large counter the propaganda of lies that usually takes place through the same. Most Wikipedia pages like the one below:

spread most pernicious lies, thus reducing the credibility of Wikipedia and the utility of internet to negative levels. Some times this propaganda can have very negative effect. For this reason even terrorists have found Wikipedia very useful for propaganda and have managed to infiltrate to highest levels of editorship. What is more disturbing is that one is unable to check the spread of the same as the wiki / internet team is helpless against its perpetrators who also manage to block out the editing rights of those who speak the truth. Inasmuch as I have always felt that an intelligent tool that would in background run a powerful anti-duplicity, anti-misinfo and anti-plagiarism software and the one that would meaningfully negotiate a user query to provide sensible replies and guides would make the internet a useful research tool for at least say highschool , college students if not for scholars and doctorates. That is the reason why I’m positive and enthusiastic about your tool.

I shall wish you well on the launch and request you to kindly involve me for any kind of support required for the same. I like to involve myself on further enhancement of this tool. You can hand over project modules to me and I can help you from offshore in India. I’m also working simultaneously on a big encyclopedia project the contents of which are well researched and innovative and if linked up to your search engine could prove to be a mega success. I shall endeavour my best and request you to kindly contact me over my mobile for any further info on this 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Thanks and best wishes.

Posted by K.Sethumadhavan June 2, 2009 at 1:43 am

wolfram best forever and ever

Posted by Dan Ndasyo June 2, 2009 at 4:50 am

Now to the wish list – a way to drill down on results with greater LOD – the catch being what we define as LOD – more guff, or increasing mathematical sophistication…
A way to pose real physical problems in natural language – tell me how to derive, say, the mass per unit length of a bit of copper wire; show me the energy model of a bungee jump etc…
How about a measure of uncertainty in a result 1+/- 0.1 V – a confidence interval…
Is there a way for us meaty types to cyborgically jacked in? As in forming a massive SOA into wikiWolfram :)

and on and on


Posted by Ian June 2, 2009 at 8:33 am

it would be great if the icon for enabling and disabling Wolfram Alpha, that the Firefox add-on adds to the bottom of the browser could be easily removed from there.

Posted by Zuzana June 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I am very satisfied with a new improvement in technology and science. I would like to know how the new wolfran alpha will improve actuarial mathematics. Congratulations and please let me know how can I learn more about your product.
Kind Regards

Posted by Jaime Rodriguez Härtel June 2, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Congratulations, please let me know how can I obtain or may be contribute to the development of your product.
In the near future I hope to increase my applications in actuarial mathematics thorugh worlfram alpha.
Kind Regard.
Jaime Rodríguez Härteñ

Posted by Jaime Rodriguez Härtel June 2, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Hey WATeam Congratulations!!
Its really a great work that you guys done! Congratulations to the Wolfram Alpha Team for their success and this type of ‘knowledge engine”.
It will give the new heights to web applications and will be touch the sky..

Posted by kailash June 3, 2009 at 7:34 am

Hi ! More than 15 years I try to knock to our mathematics as in Russia as abroad to present them my ideas to study the usual natural numbers and their algebraic equivalents in rectengular system of Cartesian coordinates by the new methods and the Euclldean fractals of my own “construction” as well but unsuccessfully. The only hope and chance — the Wolfram / Alpha !!! I believe in my progress thanks to such a remarkable Organisation in our modern World !!! Yours faithfully Yevgeny Karpushkin.

Posted by Yevgeny Karpushkin June 3, 2009 at 9:52 am

Hi, Congratulations to the site owner for this marvelous work you’ve done. It has lots of useful and interesting data.

Posted by TITHOMMATOICA June 4, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Thank you for bringing such a comprehensive toolset to the world! Having a play around with a few queries tonight and finding some interesting comparisons I would not have thought to link together – the demo video helps spark the imagination. All the best for the continued development of this engine.

Posted by Mark June 5, 2009 at 7:02 am

Greeting! Yours examples are very interesting for science and education. Perhaps to make examples-animation on chromatograph (time delay and separation) , catalityc steps, mechanisms Langmuir-s Hinshelwood-s and others.

Posted by odtkach June 6, 2009 at 12:13 am

Great information, I will be linking back to you and going to look around at your other posts.

Posted by Reverse Merger June 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Wonderful interconnection of programs. Some adjustments should be done as far symbols are concerned. “M” or “m” is meter but also mass. Examples are teaching matter and they discover wide horizons. They should be studied more catefully. Thanks for this knowledge improvement.

Posted by ettore mattera June 9, 2009 at 3:06 pm

I love what I have tried so far.

I would like to know more.

Posted by John McNamara June 13, 2009 at 6:13 am

Original post by Dmitri Gromov

Posted by JaneRadriges June 13, 2009 at 11:22 am


Posted by PROF.J.IVAN NATALARAY June 18, 2009 at 12:31 am

The Wolfram research team have successfully and finally pulled me away from any MA+anything to MA+THEMATICA. You guys are doing a great job. I look forward to joining your team sometimes in the nearest future.

Keep up the good job.


Posted by Khameel June 22, 2009 at 3:26 am

Nice ,keep up the good work ,waiting for the next update.

Posted by ForexFub July 25, 2009 at 11:56 am

I don’t agree with much of the criticism i have read here, I just want more of the accurate data, and to be able to have it processed online through alpha. Also to have the option to download the data as a text is very important. The rest that people want it to do is missing the point, just to get the latest, accurate data from one place is impossible today and must not be underestimated. You already can get 99% of the non accurate, non concentrated data through Google, but that will take time (=money) to sort out. To solve a problem 80% of the time goes to the boring task of collecting and verifying data before you can analyse it.

Posted by korthaj July 30, 2009 at 11:28 pm

what country is ever poor?

Posted by pinit July 31, 2010 at 4:12 am