A Moment with the Wolfram|Alpha Developers (Part 5)

July 17, 2009
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The Wolfram|Alpha Team
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Wolfram|Alpha introduces many new methods for understanding linguistic inputs. Those methods allow you and others around the world to ask it questions in natural ways. In this video, a developer working on Wolfram|Alpha’s linguistics shares a bit about her role in building and improving the system’s understanding to help you get the answers you’re looking for.

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You can watch more interviews with Wolfram|Alpha team members here.

7 Comments

If natural language input is good for Wolfram Alpha then why isn’t it used for Mathematica?

Posted by Brian Gilbert July 17, 2009 at 12:39 pm Reply

    They’ve covered this before. I’m no expert and never used mathematica (hook me up Stephen!) but I hear mathematica is more like a programming language. It gives you complete control over the rules used to generate output, whereas Wolfram|Alpha selects them for you.

    Posted by Treblig Nairb July 19, 2009 at 5:45 am Reply

I agree fully!! I want Mathematica to be as good at parsing language as numbers and their vast relationships. Indeed, I wish someone would write a book on NPL using Mathematica ;Ship with it a cd filled with many notebooks giving neat, interesting, and expanding examples. I want my Linguistica. ;-)

Posted by Andrew Meit July 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm Reply

This has been my favorite dev video yet… very cool to have see the natural language parsing aspect of the system discussed as well as how it’s being improved.

Posted by Daniel Bigham July 17, 2009 at 10:04 pm Reply

W|A can’t parse the question “What is healthcare spending as a % of GDP for USA, Japan?”

Posted by Paul Sholar July 20, 2009 at 8:25 pm Reply

I’m pretty disappointed with Wolfram|Alpha’s current (lack of) natural language processing capabilities – not that I had unrealistically high expectations to begin with. If you do a search on “blue”, WA correctly identifies it as a color, and as is its characteristic style for stuff it has some information about, fires out a barrage of facts and figures that may or may not be useful to you (which is not a problem)… but try typing “is blue a color?” and “Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input.”
Now I know diddly-squat about the science behind NLP, but in my book any NLP engine that can’t answer “Is A a B” after it says “A is B” needs some serious work.

Note that this is the 2nd time I am posting the above comment, as it didn’t go through the first time. I can’t see anything offensive or false in what I said, and if I have been critical I believe I am justified in being so. If you ignored it on purpose the first time you are likely to do it again; I’m sure that’s fine because it’s your web site, but be forewarned of the possibility that in a fit of pettiness and spite, I will post similar comments to a few dozen discussions or newsgroup threads discussing your product.

Posted by Akiel July 21, 2009 at 11:29 am Reply

i hope wolframalpha can expectation such as vb 6, java, PHP, C+ ,C# and other language.
i think this a good idea if wolfram alpha translation to indonesian language cause we support and indonesian people ill help with this add on.

Posted by adi July 29, 2009 at 3:15 am Reply
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