So what’s been happening with Wolfram|Alpha this summer? A lot!

At a first glance, the website looks pretty much as it did when it first launched—with the straightforward input field. But inside that simple exterior an incredible amount has happened. Our development organization has been buzzing with activity all summer. In fact, it’s clear from the metrics that the intensity is steadily rising, with things being added at an ever-increasing rate.

Wolfram|Alpha was always planned to be a very long-term project, and paced accordingly. We pushed very hard to get it launched before the summer so that we could spend the “quiet time” of our first summer steadily enhancing it, before more people start using it more intently in the fall.

Two really great things have happened as a result of actually getting Wolfram|Alpha launched. The first is that we’ve discovered that there’s a huge community of people out there who want to help the mission of Wolfram|Alpha. And we’re steadily ramping up our mechanisms for those people to contribute to the project.

The second thing is that we’ve now got actual examples of what people want to do with Wolfram|Alpha—hundreds of millions of them. And it’s terrific to see that so many of them work so nicely. But for us now the most valuable thing is seeing what doesn’t work yet. Because that shows us what we need to add to Wolfram|Alpha.

There are several components. One is knowledge domains. Things people want that Wolfram|Alpha doesn’t yet know. The good news is that there’s been very little that’s come through that wasn’t already somewhere on our to-do lists. They’re long lists. But we can now be confident that they’re good lists.

A second big component is linguistics. Close to half the time that Wolfram|Alpha doesn’t give a result, it’s not because it doesn’t have the necessary knowledge, or can’t do the necessary computation. It’s because it doesn’t understand what’s being asked.

It’s very interesting to see the kinds of queries that come into Wolfram|Alpha, and how they’re phrased. We’re really seeing a new human language. Based on ordinary language, but without a lot of its niceties. Probably closer to the way people think internally.

Wolfram|Alpha is a bit like a child: it’s being exposed to a new language, and it’s got to learn from examples how to understand it. The good news, though, is that Wolfram|Alpha is getting a lot of examples. Already a couple of orders of magnitude more than a child ever gets.

One of our big activities this summer has been inventing new techniques to take advantage of all this. It’s very interesting science. Much of it based on NKS. We’ve made some great advances, which we’re steadily implementing in the Wolfram|Alpha system.

The results so far are quite encouraging. In just a couple of months, we’ve reduced the “fall-through rate” of queries we don’t understand by 10%. And this is just the beginning. The techniques we’ve invented can clearly go a lot further. And we have all sorts of ideas for completely new techniques.

One of the fascinating things for me about the Wolfram|Alpha project is the way it mixes deep theoretical ideas with very practical implementation.

And one of the great achievements this summer has been streamlining the implementation. New data comes into Wolfram|Alpha all the time. But we had a plan that once a week we would update the underlying code of Wolfram|Alpha.

Some people in our development team thought this was impossible. But working on Mathematica for the past 20+ years, we’ve come up with some pretty good software engineering techniques—particularly making use of Mathematica itself to do system building, testing, and deployment.

Well, I’m happy to report that we have indeed managed to make the idea of one code update per week for Wolfram|Alpha work. In fact, it’s been working every week for the past 13 weeks!

So what’s been in all those updates?

I should explain that through the course of the summer we’ve been steadily expanding the Wolfram|Alpha development team, adding a lot of very talented people from around the world.

But in writing this blog post, I just looked up what’s actually happened to the Wolfram|Alpha codebase since launch. And I have to say that I’m quite astonished: it’s grown by a staggering 52%—adding well over 2 million lines of Mathematica code.

There have also been nearly 50,000 manual groups of changes to our data repositories over the past 3 months.

It’s hard to have a good metric for how many completely new knowledge domains we’ve added. But based on new source files, and new underlying databases, I think it’s been between 10% and 15%. (There’ll be other blog posts talking about the specifics—though we tend to be a bit bashful about new domains when they’re first added; they usually take a little while to reach maturity, and by then they don’t seem as new to us.)

One of the most difficult things about keeping our weekly update schedule is getting testing done.

We test Wolfram|Alpha at many levels. Its data, both static and real-time. Its underlying computation. Its linguistic processing. Its presentation layer. And its web operation.

Continually through each day we’re building new versions of the Wolfram|Alpha system, and doing automated tests. Over the course of the summer, we’ve dramatically increased the number and types of tests we have, both custom-built and derived from actual query streams.

Of course these tests find bugs, which we’re continually fixing. (Each week, Monday and Tuesday are bug-fixing days for all our developers.)

But what’s really great is how many users of Wolfram|Alpha send in helpful bug reports and suggestions. In fact, it’s been a big effort just to keep up with all of them.

As of now, of all the feedbacks we’ve received, we’ve classified 54,233 of them as bugs or suggestions. Of these, 31,006 are now in our implementation queue, boiled down to about 5800 to-do items.

At the beginning of the summer, we were taking care of about 250 to-do items from all sources per week. Now it’s up to nearly 600 per week.

And so far we’ve been able to tell 3907 people that the bugs they reported have been fixed.

It’s really very exciting watching Wolfram|Alpha develop. Every day there are zillions of little changes and fixes that get made (“add an extra name for a type of spider”; “fix the timezone for an outlying settlement”; etc.), while major new domains and frameworks are getting built up.

There’s also infrastructure development. Making Wolfram|Alpha run well on more web browsers. Optimizing performance. People may have noticed recently that there are no longer URLs like www12.wolframalpha.com; it’s always just www.wolframalpha.com. That seemingly minor change reflects a large engineering effort to optimize load balancing between our colocation facilities.

In addition to new content, we’ve been working very hard on new delivery and interface mechanisms for Wolfram|Alpha, which we expect to be able to announce quite soon.

It’s been a great first summer for Wolfram|Alpha. It was a mad dash to launch Wolfram|Alpha when we did. But we’ve actually built up over the summer to an even greater development intensity, though now with a progressively larger team and increasingly streamlined development systems.

These are exciting times. The vision of Wolfram|Alpha is really working! With every day bringing new advances. Progressively building up the largest coherent repository of human knowledge ever assembled.

Which we’re now getting ready for its “fall traffic”…

155 Comments

Well done!
but we’re expecting more and more again! more functionalities, more data and more “computable searches ” .
we are with you… go w|a , go!

Posted by Luca Perencin August 20, 2009 at 2:37 pm Reply

Hi Stephen!

Thanks for your post. I really was missing this kind of explanations about the inners of Wolfram Alpha. I’m sure it’s been a hard summer for all of you. I must say I’m really happy with the small (and not so small) changes I discover from time to time in the answers from Alpha.

I’ve submitted quite a few bugs, suggestions or comments, and I think I’ve received about 10 replies from your team, fixing and improving things, that’s impressive!

There are so many fields to cover, I suppose it must be a hard decision what to do next. For example, I recently discovered GenBank, a databank with thousands of gen and chromosome sequences. It would be great to have them in Alpha, so you can ask for a sequence and get the list of animals with it in their DNA, cross-comparison between species and so on.

Please keep us informed of any new features, we are eager to try them!

Regards.

Posted by igo August 20, 2009 at 2:42 pm Reply

    GenBank is a good model in many respects but what I’ld like to see is an atlas of worldwide changes since at least the last Glacial Maximum, that cross-relates human physical and cultural development with climate as well as the evolutionary and ecological
    changes in other animals and plants. A chrono-geo public master file where every archaeologist, biologist and geologist could add their findings to a common body of knowledge open to everyone, Catastrophies and slow changes alike. To understand the progress of global climate change we NEED to know where we are coming from.

    Posted by darrel armstrong August 21, 2009 at 1:28 am Reply

Good job. I mean it!
Last week I needed a mathematical tool to perform some tests on my simulation results, and I didn’t have any installed on my PC. So I thought “let’s see what wolfram alpha can do for me” and I was astonished!
Later, I did some other stuff, asked some questions and found out “YES! It is possible to have a computational knowledge engine!”

Posted by Ali August 20, 2009 at 3:51 pm Reply

One of the interesting things w|a provokes is a critical reflection on what constitutes ‘knowledge’.

*If* all cognitive activity is ultimately algorithmic, perhaps we can look forward to a day when a query of that kind can be returned.

Congratulations, and good luck.

S.

Posted by stevie_b August 20, 2009 at 4:25 pm Reply

When will IE6 be fully supported?

Posted by W. Pellett August 20, 2009 at 4:49 pm Reply

    Are you serious???

    Posted by John August 20, 2009 at 7:26 pm Reply

    And also Netscape 4.3?

    Posted by Andrew August 20, 2009 at 7:50 pm Reply

      What about Windows 3.5 =)

      Posted by Dan August 21, 2009 at 7:04 am Reply

        Don’t forget MSDOS!

        Posted by Dan August 21, 2009 at 1:12 pm Reply

    In 2004.

    “IE6 … was also made available for Windows 98 and Windows ME.”

    If you can’t get a better browser like Firefox, at least get newer, less completely asinine crap (like IE8).

    Posted by gabjoh August 20, 2009 at 11:30 pm Reply

    Hulleu,

    Ai aim usang unternox ixplorer funf, ai would lik this also to bee understütchzzt

    Plise

    Posted by A. Coward August 21, 2009 at 1:08 am Reply

    So why don’t we just go into the Stone Age altogether?

    Posted by love August 21, 2009 at 1:18 am Reply

    There are plenty and much more usefull new features to implement than to have support for an old non standard half buried browser. Best regards

    Posted by Igor Carrasco August 21, 2009 at 3:24 am Reply

    Yes, we want line-mode support, too!
    (So that we can browse W | A from DOS)

    Posted by Shuhrat Dehkanov August 21, 2009 at 4:53 am Reply

    W.Pellett,
    Are you experiencing a specific challenge using IE6? Please give us more details and we will be happy to look into this further.

    Thank you!

    Posted by The PR Team August 25, 2009 at 12:08 pm Reply

Congratulation, Good Job !!!!!!

Posted by Abel August 20, 2009 at 5:28 pm Reply

You are breaking new ground. That you have made any progress is amazing. That you have made so much progress leaves me only to make small hopefully constructive criticisms.

Your stats are far below the launch peak. I suggets you raise the cap on time per question until such time as you need the hardware capacity for paying users. Some cheeky users will soak it up but this will get you useful publicity and reveal unsuspected uses.

Posted by Brian Gilbert August 20, 2009 at 5:30 pm Reply

Thanks very much for a great description of how W|A has developed over the last couple of months. It’s exciting to hear that progress is accelerating. (!) I’m also very pleased that W|A sends emails to people who report bugs to let them know when they’ve been fixed… what a great way to say “we hear you”… it helps people feel a part of this incredible project.

Posted by Daniel Bigham August 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm Reply

I wish there was a lot more budget data available. I’d like to see things like pie charts that show how a health care dollar is divided among all the infrastructure it pays for and how that has changed over time. There should be a way to refine queries and presentations of the data. In the above example of a pie chart that shows the components of heath care costs there should be suggestions for coloring it differently, like assigning one color to dollars paid to providers vs paid to insurance brokers, administrators, investors, etc. Or emphasizing different aspects like how it breaks down over age, race, location, occupation, etc.

Perhaps a side panel note pad that could save selections from the results in a way that could be used in subsequent queries would make it easier to get the results we want.

Posted by Scott Bryan August 20, 2009 at 6:18 pm Reply

Hello Stephen,

Thank you for so detailed description and congratulation for the WolframAlpha project. It`s the first visit for me here, but for sure not the last. I saw many intersting things. I read just a bit about your answer engine, the main idea to obtain results directly by computing the answer from structured data, rather than providing a list of documents or web pages, like any other search engine I think it`s great. I`ll “keep an eye” on your work. Congratulations!

Kind regards,
Doru

Posted by doruman August 20, 2009 at 6:54 pm Reply

I would like to do back testing on the ES market with one second data over a 5 year back test using a robot trade stratigy is this possable with wa?

Posted by Bob Nordberg August 20, 2009 at 7:19 pm Reply

I have added the wolframalpha plugin to firefox to return wolfram answers to queries made in google and I noticed, it also obliges you to think differently to the way you do searches. I think it is very refreshing to have another source of knowledge. I now use, google, wikipedia and wolframalpha in my queries and depending on what I’m looking for.

Posted by Franck Martin August 20, 2009 at 7:50 pm Reply

Hi, Stephen — I read something somewhere about a forthcoming Wolfram|Alpha “subscription.” What’s up? Will WA remain free? Or will there be a two-tiered product, one free one not?

Posted by Fred Feldon August 20, 2009 at 7:52 pm Reply

    Is Wolfram|Alpha free to use?
    This answer is in the FAQs accessed by the FAQs button at the top of the Wolfram LIVE page.

    Yes, it’s free for personal noncommercial use as described in its Terms of Use. Subscriptions will be available in the near future with enhanced features for large-scale and commercial use.

    Posted by Brian Gilbert August 21, 2009 at 5:49 am Reply

Good Job guys!! Keep it up!

Posted by Hernan August 20, 2009 at 9:05 pm Reply

So, these sound like great advances. When will you make this “whatever” engine relevant?

Posted by JDizzle August 20, 2009 at 9:09 pm Reply

uff, cuanto autobombo!

Posted by Germán August 20, 2009 at 9:11 pm Reply

I am in awe of your work!

I do have a suggestion which addresses the very first part of this update: questions. I suggest a portion of your work on understanding questions is not to answer the question. How about engaging in a dialogue? A well formed question often results from a conversation about the initial query. I really didn’t mean, “how do birds fly?” but “has anyone studied the actual flow around the various components of a bird wing?” and “does a bird wing undergo any kind of valve type action to improve lift?”

Dan

Posted by Dan Heck August 20, 2009 at 9:24 pm Reply

Wofram|Alpha is wonderful. With regard to linguistics, Firefox has incorporated an add-on that allows you to enter your search terms in Google and it returns both Google and Wolfram|Alpha results. This is very convenient, but does it reduce the number of results for Wolfram|Alpha due to syntax issues?

Posted by JohnBr August 20, 2009 at 9:52 pm Reply

“Radical Evolution” was correct: mathematicians utilizing incredibly sophisticated computer networks will take over the world as they collect, sort, and categorize all of human knowledge with exponentially increasing speed. New patterns and entirely new branches of science will develop out of projects like Wolfram Alpha and the Large Hadron Collider.

Posted by Jason Smedvik August 20, 2009 at 10:10 pm Reply

Thank you… what is Wolframalpha’s mission?

Aseem

Posted by Aseem Saxena August 20, 2009 at 10:10 pm Reply

Regarding “When will IE6 be fully supported?”
I hope —- Never.
Why waste time and energy “flogging a dead horse”?

Posted by Boyd Carter August 20, 2009 at 10:18 pm Reply

Wolphram Alpha is perfect choice while working with mathematical calculations. But while searching for common terms like Unix, the computational engine says it is still under development. It will be good that answers for such commonly found terms be returned

Posted by John Samuel August 20, 2009 at 10:47 pm Reply

The stock analysis section could be of great value, but most trading today is in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and foreign stocks. These really need to be in the data base to make this a useful capability.

Posted by lw sterritt August 20, 2009 at 10:48 pm Reply

    They have known about this for several months now. I brought it again to their attention within the last week and sent them examples and so have others. Xignite, Inc. is their provider of market info. I am not sure what the problem is, since a few ETF’s do return results. Maybe we will see improvement in the next batch of updates on next Monday or Tuesday? They also know that many stock symbols do not work…or turn up airport codes from around the world if they happen to match the IATA or FAA codes. No doubt many other similar occurances of misintrepretation are present on different topics and users seem to be good at advising W|A of problems and concerns. We just have to wait for our needs to float to the top of the list among the many thousands that they are working to resolve.

    Posted by Bob D. August 21, 2009 at 9:43 am Reply

Great post…Also, I’ve noticed that kids love WA. They play with it in different ways and talk about it in class – or at least my young cousins do.
Keep up the good work and please plan a summer camp for next year.

Posted by Lilyn August 20, 2009 at 11:09 pm Reply

I think very soon Wolfram|Alpha would be revoulatinized way to do searches on internet.
But still currently it is only attractive piece of art for Technical people, mathematician and researcher. Hopefully all your changes and other things, bring this engine for local people.

Posted by Kamal Panhwar August 21, 2009 at 12:53 am Reply

Seems like a wikipedia for calculations

Posted by Chris Georgakopoulos August 21, 2009 at 1:00 am Reply

This is all very exciting news!! I remember the opening day and watching the Live Broadcast when W|A was first being booted up for the world to enjoy… You guys have come a long way from there! Hope everything continues well from there!

Posted by Brandon Bias August 21, 2009 at 1:20 am Reply

good works

Posted by okay ?en August 21, 2009 at 1:43 am Reply

Hi.

Wolfram Alpha is a great tool. Well done so far.

However I would like to ask you to include sunspot & flare data into your database.
Queries (such as, which sunspots where visible on the solar disc on a specific day; how strong was the solar flare on last Christmas, and which instruments observed it) could be answered by Wolfram Alpha.

Keep up the good work,
kind regards,
Hakan

Posted by Hakan Önel August 21, 2009 at 2:03 am Reply

What about the Wolfram alpha API? when is that due?

Posted by Girish August 21, 2009 at 2:12 am Reply

This is a great effort. I am always amazed at what all I can calculate. Kudos to you and the team. The analogy of a child is real good. The more questions we ask the more intelligent the child becomes. The possibilities are amazing.

Posted by Anshuman Misra August 21, 2009 at 2:50 am Reply

You still need to fix your geolocation stuff.

My ISP is in Aberdeen, Scotland, I’m not so I need a way to tell Wolfram|Alpha that I’m at 51.2453°N, 1.1339°W so that it gets things like the sunrise/sunset times right.

You’re probably going to need a profile and a web browser cookie so I can arrive at Wolfram|Alpha and not have to keep re-entering my profile detail or having to login.

Your friends at Google have it working, they’ve go some nice data that they hold for me, maybe you could use my GMail ID to save having to re-invent the wheel and have yet another web profile for me.

Posted by Dougie August 21, 2009 at 3:00 am Reply

    Seems like W|A pulled out the ability to enter a IP country code. Stephen had given the secret of ip=.fr (or the country of your choice) early on in one of his videos. Guess his staff overruled him?

    Posted by Bob D. August 21, 2009 at 10:14 am Reply

Good Job guys!! Keep it up!

Posted by Seferm August 21, 2009 at 3:25 am Reply

It’s a pity that the search engine wasn’t better when it was launched. Most potential users tried it – like me – and found it didn’t help them. They won’t come back, because all you have is one chance to be better than Google. Its a pity as there are lots of good things about Wolfram Alpha

Posted by Simon Fowler August 21, 2009 at 3:40 am Reply

Thank’s for staying in touch.I a beginner in learning how to use a computer and see Wolfram A as the next layer of web development. Is there now,or will there be a “Wolfram Alpha : the missing manual”.. Keep On Coding..

Posted by mike breen August 21, 2009 at 3:45 am Reply

quando una versione in italiano?
Continua così, buon lavoro.

Posted by luca August 21, 2009 at 3:47 am Reply

I do appreciate all that work ..
go ahead

Posted by m hussien August 21, 2009 at 4:05 am Reply

I’m very interested in getting a senior person from W/A to present to the leaders of the international meetings industry about the opportunities for revolutionising how international scientific, medical, economics, etc congresses are run and what they can potentially achieve with these tremendous new tools and access to data. Not sure what the plans are for capturing new info as it gets presented at such meetings and how you’re dealing with published scientific papers, but seems to me there is vast potential for delegates to access, manipulate, compare, dissect, create new data in real time whilst they’re gathered together at trad face-to-face gatherings. Do you agree this is an interesting area to explore? We’ve also got the communication platform for promoting awareness of W/A to thousands of organisers of international association meetings.
Martin Sirk
CEO, ICCA (International Congress & Convention Industry)

Posted by Martin Sirk August 21, 2009 at 4:39 am Reply

Great job!I mean, you all have done an excellent job to the people!
I particularly like the calculating function of this website. Still, I hope that there will be more support for us to input the expression. Also, I think the stock price should include the price of Hong Kong market, since it is also a major market in world.
From what I have seen and used, Wolfram Alpha certainly has a bright future.
I hope you can continue your effort and create a better and better computational engine!
Thank you, Stephen!

Posted by Ivan August 21, 2009 at 4:54 am Reply

Hi, Stephen .thanks for your post today.
hope all goes well with Wolfram|Alpha and you.

Posted by Yao August 21, 2009 at 5:24 am Reply

This is great BUT:

do a query on: “what is Wolfram Alpha good for” — http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=what+is+Wolfram+Alpha+good+for

The result is:

Input interpretation: What are you?
Response: I am a computational knowledge engine

Weak.

I know the answer is a moving target. Still, we need answers, even if they change over time — even rapidly. Personally I don’t have time to spend on a product that is not capable of telling me what it’s good for.

Posted by Xavier Haurie August 21, 2009 at 5:53 am Reply

many US gov statistics are available at high levels of detail Imedical, demographic, budget, …). There is some work within the government using Data Farrett to make access to the information more straightforward. It might be very useful for WR to talk to these people and lay WR’s computational capabilities on top of Data Farrett.

Posted by richard palmer August 21, 2009 at 6:16 am Reply

The Wolfram Alpha engine is great! I just finished earning a Masters in Information Systems Management in June. I decided earlier this year, I would like to pursue a PhD in Computer Science. I meet with a the Computer Science Dean at the University and he said I needed to take four prerequisite math courses. I enrolled in College Algebra, the week after I graduated, and realized I had forgotten much about order of operation, fractions, polynomials, etc…. Wolfram Alpha has really helped me learn how to do the functions correctly, and I’m starting to understand mathematics much better.

I participated in the first night launch of Wolfram Alpha and really found a lot of useful information beside the computational power of WA. The next day I went to work and showed my co-workers the website. Needless to say they were very impressed!

Actually, I think this maybe the coolest part of the Wolfram Alpha website, I just found last week. I have been trying to use my mobile phone, HTC Touch Pro, to get results on WA since the launch of the website. I really was not getting good results from the queries, and the page states please use a supported browser. Well, back to last week, I was at my in-laws house and I started thinking of a problem I was having with “f composed of g” (fºg)(x). I pulled up on my phone and typed in the equation, the WA query returned results for everything, the graph, steps for solving the equation, and the roots. I can’t believe I was so EXCITED that I went home an got my book and started working on additional problems from the back of the chapters.

The webpage on my phone still says please use “A supported browser,” but I thought if I mention something… Maybe the the browser checking function on the webpage will exclude the Opera Mobile browser now?? However, it is not a problem.

Congratulation and Thank you very very much,

Ryan

Posted by Ryan Schor August 21, 2009 at 6:30 am Reply

En sus comentarios, leo que uno de los principales problemas a los que se ha enfrentado WA es ling?istico. Desde la visión de los usuarios de habla hispana, muchos nos enfrentamos al problema idiomático, ante la necesidad de comunicarnos en un idioma que no sea el inglés.

Por eso es que a la “Lista de Deseos” agregaría, un Wolfram/Alpha en español.

Muchas Gracias

Posted by José Cardaopoli August 21, 2009 at 6:42 am Reply

Greet job for wolframscience.com

Posted by Mohd August 21, 2009 at 6:46 am Reply

good job!

Expecting ~

Posted by mini google August 21, 2009 at 6:48 am Reply

I’m very excited about wolframalpha.
Keep up the good work and thanks for letting us know.

Posted by Phil August 21, 2009 at 7:28 am Reply

10xs great job … but we want more ¡¡¡¡¡ ok

Posted by ZeroGrados August 21, 2009 at 7:34 am Reply

My hat of to you sirs.

Posted by Ofo August 21, 2009 at 8:45 am Reply

Hello Stephan,

What I like best about Alpha is your comments.
It is so refreshing to read such lucid, easy to understand comments written in more or less common English, by such an intelligent person as you. Very refreshing.

Good luck in everything you do!

Larry Kelley
http://www.shelbygemfactory.com

Posted by Larry P Kelly August 21, 2009 at 8:48 am Reply

keep up working, guys!
wolframalpha is so promising.

Posted by ???? August 21, 2009 at 8:53 am Reply

    I am looking forward to doing more research based info on the lines of sociology and how persons catch on to new technology resources.

    Posted by nancy jennninges August 22, 2009 at 2:41 pm Reply

One of the great medical benefits of an engine like this, provided the information can be safely conveyed, will be the ability to mine data for a cumulative analysis of pharmacological and radiological treatments and studies, if this could ever be conjoined with the effort to organize these records electronically. Thanks.

Posted by Howard August 21, 2009 at 8:56 am Reply

Cuando se podra usar W/A en español?

Posted by hernando pinillos sierra August 21, 2009 at 9:06 am Reply

Great job, is a very good tool, but When will be available in Spanish.
THX. ;)

Posted by Fran G. August 21, 2009 at 9:17 am Reply

My goodness, this isn’t a blog post but a book.

Anyway we can get a summarized “bullet-point” elevator version?

Posted by Mean Dean August 21, 2009 at 9:30 am Reply

    Too lazy to read?

    Posted by Josh August 21, 2009 at 11:23 am Reply

      i’m not too lazy, i just have more important things to do. there were tons of words and very little content. how ironic that he acknowledges that language is changing but then proceeds to spill out very poorly written, 20th century prose.

      Posted by mean dean is right August 21, 2009 at 2:30 pm Reply

        Actually, it’s well written prose. The rub is that there is only one important point in every couple of paragraphs. Hence the need for a a bulleted version for people who may not have as much time to enjoy the prose and others.

        Posted by Steve August 21, 2009 at 4:56 pm Reply

          “Actually, it’s well written prose.”

          Uh, no. This guy needs an editor like a hippie needs a bath. I read all thousand-someodd pages of NKS and found a chapter or two’s worth of actual information inside. Stephen Wolfram has done a fabulous job of convincing himself he’s invented the science he’s rediscovered. And starting sentences with prepositions. Other than that, it’s a lot of hot air.

          Posted by dave August 21, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Stephen, what you commented on the language is probably going to be one of the big changes in human communication in the next decades, may be even faster. If one wants to better understand what is going on in this area one has to observe the kids and the young persons communicating over their cell phones. The language they are developing there is so stripped of every useless content that i find it incredible how much waste we carry around while communicating. I have read several messages my kids sent with SMS and the language used is incredibly intuitive and after only a little practice you start enjoying communicating that way. As you also say it, it is probably much closer to what is going on in our brains, maybe for freeing up the brains capacity to take the next step in perceiving the universe we are living in.
Lera Boroditsky published in EDGE an article on how language maybe shaping our thinking, well here I think it is more our thinking that is shaping a new language. Maybe this approach is of help when trying to solve the language issues.

Posted by Rainer Goehringer August 21, 2009 at 9:33 am Reply

    i agree, it is both ways the language is changing, coz the way we think and percieve it, is also changing, or rather I add, it is mutating and evolving with the advent of new communication media like with digital bottlenecks of time and speed, SMS, twitter, e-mails, it is transforming the civilization at breathtaking pace…

    Posted by Shaubhik August 21, 2009 at 11:43 am Reply

First I’d like to say thanks for the great blog and all the information. I’ve been using w/a since day one and I have to say I find all sorts of uses for it… I think Stephen and his entire team are to be congratulated on developing something really unique here and should be applauded for taking so many suggestions and turning them into features. Keep up the awesome work and I will keep looking for new ways to use w/a, it’s lots of fun!

Congratulations,
Chet

Posted by Chet August 21, 2009 at 9:42 am Reply

bing it on buddy.

Posted by b August 21, 2009 at 9:45 am Reply

En el futuro de Wolfram Alpha debemos visualizar un traductor- diccionario de idiomas; observemos que uno de los ingredientes para que GOOGLE se esparciera por el mundo es el manejo inteligente de idiomas, como la sensibilidad de direccionar su búsqueda en la RED de acuerdo al idioma. Además debido a que le auguro una interesante perspectiva en las búsquedas en redes INTRANET sobre Base de Datos especializadas, el manejo del idioma pasa a ser fundamental, gracias por darme la posibilidad de participar y SIGAN ADELANTE

In the future of Wolfram Alpha visualize a translator-dictionary languages; Let’s look at that you one of the ingredients for GOOGLE spread the world is the intelligent management of languages, as the sensitivity of address your search in the RED according to the language. In addition because predict you an interesting perspective in searches in networks INTRANET on specialized database, the management of the language becomes essential, thank you for giving me the possibility to participate and forward

Posted by Carlos Alberto Spagnuolo August 21, 2009 at 9:50 am Reply

I wanted to do calculations on Gibbs free energy. Alpha doesn’t appear to know what it is.

Thanks for realizing the dream!

Chris

Posted by Chris Arena August 21, 2009 at 9:52 am Reply

Great work. Even though you say that you want to give new things time to develop before promoting them and once they’re ready they don’t feel new anymore you still should develop a systematic and organized way of doing so. After all, all of science is exactly the same way, and if you can’t even curate data regarding your own product you don’t have a hope of doing it for science at large.

Also, a lot of non-technical, non-scientific queries are less scattershot than the more scientific ones due to communal sources of an awareness of ignorance. That is to say that currently you are getting a lot of healthcare queries because of something external from most people’s personal lives and interests: politics. At other times you might gat a lot of a certain type of query because of some thing that was on television the night before. In the latter case it is very difficult to predict query trends and have new data available in time for when the queries are made, but in the former it is quite predictable and tailoring at least some of your data curation to that fact will greatly improve your customer satisfaction, especailly among lay customers with less interests in seeing a project develop rather than just getting their answer and forgetting everything that failed to give them an answer.

So, for example, right now “violations of the geneva conventions” brings up nothing. Not only is this sort of query very useful for legally-oriented people generally, but it will assuredly becaome a popular query some time in the next year or two. Similar fall-throughs are “evidence of global warming”, “gay marriage laws around the world”, etc. I think you will see a much larger return per resource invested if you focus some of it specifically where queries are likely to be focused down the road.

Posted by idealinduction August 21, 2009 at 9:58 am Reply

Quisiera saber si se puede invertir en este producto y asi tanto ustedes como los inversionistas puedan crecer y sacar provecho mutuamente.

Saludos!!

Posted by Carlos Valdez August 21, 2009 at 10:12 am Reply

PLEASE IN SPANISH

Posted by JUAN August 21, 2009 at 10:34 am Reply

Keep up the good work!

Posted by Will August 21, 2009 at 10:55 am Reply

Amazing effort.. Keep going Wolframalpha…
We want to see more..
All the best.

Posted by viralpatel August 21, 2009 at 10:55 am Reply

quando sarà possibile avere disponibile il blog ed la possibilità di interagire in italiano? grazie è un progetto estremamente interessante e cambierà tante cose nell’uso dei pc.Enzo Siciliano

Posted by Enzo August 21, 2009 at 11:08 am Reply

Please add an api. Thanks.

Posted by Apphacker August 21, 2009 at 11:15 am Reply

Cuando sera posible contar con la Informacion en espaniol..

por Otra parte de donde es la fuente de la poblacion de las ciudades y las distancias entre una y otra..

de antemano gracias pinta bien el Wolfra

Posted by Rana August 21, 2009 at 11:55 am Reply

Will Wolfram|Alpha ever become Wolfram|Beta?

Posted by NetScr1be August 21, 2009 at 12:06 pm Reply

You have to think in spanish version, the second languaje in the world.-
Thanks a lot!

Posted by Raul Banegas August 21, 2009 at 12:17 pm Reply

Em Portugues Brasil por favor. Vocês mandam esse newsletter mas o texto tá em inglês. Seria muito bom se tivesse em outras linguas.

Posted by Wendel August 21, 2009 at 12:20 pm Reply

Wolfram Alpha has great things very great things. I have been a fan of yours from the Math matica time line …keep up the great work-everryone
I’m working on upper atmosphere etc.
Thank you

Posted by jane August 21, 2009 at 12:20 pm Reply

Tremenda herramienta, sigan trabajando muchachos, el tiempo será su mejor aliado, también estoy esperando la versión en español, pero igual me da gusto saber que hay gente trabajando para mejorar nuestros conocimientos.

Saludos desde Honduras

Posted by Rodolfo Sabillon August 21, 2009 at 12:38 pm Reply

SVP ya pas ce site en français?

Posted by yahi August 21, 2009 at 12:39 pm Reply

Thanks a lot for your concern

Posted by ibrahim gohar August 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm Reply

I would like to know how exactly you are using NKS to improve Wolfram|Alpha. I like the idea of NKS, and think examples of it being used (and how it is being used) for practical purposes would be VERY interesting.

Posted by Eric Parfitt August 21, 2009 at 12:47 pm Reply

I am sure you will be successful and I wish you Best Luck. I know this is the real next big thing and a technological milestone which will be remembered for ever…

Posted by Harry August 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm Reply

Thanks for the update.

Posted by jonathan August 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm Reply

I think it would be interesting and very useful if Wolfram/Alpha became conversational. By this I mean if Wolfram/Alpha was not clear on what a query sentence meant it would enter a disambiguating conversation with the user.

Posted by Joseph Mansigian August 21, 2009 at 2:27 pm Reply

proximamente va a salir un nuevo buscador que parece basado en la misma tecnología que WA pero centrado en el area de viajes. Se llama bifogg o befogg y su intención es hacer búsquedas que devuelvan resultados a cuestiones como… quiero un hotel romantico con wifi gratis en el centro de moscú. A eso , en teoria, segun dice su creador , daría una lista hoteles , al precio más barato que se ciñen a la cuestion. En definitiva, otro paso adelante en el desarrollo de la llamada web semántica.
Creo que wa tiene la tecnología , pero no creo que los datos que proporciona le den mucho dinero al equipo creador. A menos que comercialicen la tecnología en sí.
Me gustaria que os fuera bien, porque todo adelanto debe ser premiado, y vuestro buscador es un paso importante necesario para la web que viene.

Un saludo

Daniel Mallorca

Posted by Daniel Toja August 21, 2009 at 3:53 pm Reply

The original launch was so disappointing, it is hard to generate the interest to check back and see if you have accomplished anything.

Bad strategy to launch before you had a useful product.

Posted by Joe Ballas August 21, 2009 at 3:55 pm Reply

Keep up the good work! WolframAlpha is an excellent resource as long as you use it for its intended purpose. I can’t wait to use it through Bing!

Posted by Bryan Simonson August 21, 2009 at 4:00 pm Reply

Congratulations for this new and performant search engine, perhaps I have same problems with it : it is very heavy to charge in internet explorer. I think that it is possible to made him lighten then it is. For the others function I try to discover them.
Thank for you

Posted by Tarif Well August 21, 2009 at 4:31 pm Reply

The answers to my music questions are still horribly wrong. Gimme a crack at rewriting it for you (whoever wrote the answers/algorithms clearly has no understanding of harmony whatsoever!).

Posted by Renny August 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm Reply

…now we can think new ways to teach Physics

Posted by Demetrios August 21, 2009 at 5:28 pm Reply

Congratulations to the development team on what sounds like a fruitful summer harvest. While “lines of code” is a crude metric, very few software shops in the world can even dream of rolling out two million lines of working code in a single summer. It surely takes a lot of effort just to read all those user requests and boil them down to about 6,000 to-do items, but it’s even more impressive that the team is now completing those to-do items at a rate of 600 per week (up from 250 per week).

Automated software testing is what I do for a living now, so it’s not at all surprising to read that testing played a key role in their achievement. I expect that the team is spending a lot of time thinking about the role of testing in large-scale software development. As code bases get larger, I’ve had to reconsider my basic concepts of a “test”, just as thinking about AI forced me to reconsider my concept of “intelligence”. As Mr. Wolfram stated, these are exciting times…

Posted by William Dye ("willdye") August 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm Reply

Great job, is a very good tool, but When will be available in arabi

Posted by mohammed shami August 21, 2009 at 6:01 pm Reply

Best wishes.I think I could see a vailable search engine which can help us all.Keep awaiting

Posted by waters August 21, 2009 at 8:47 pm Reply

See Galatea 2.2,by Richard Powers

Posted by Celeste August 21, 2009 at 9:52 pm Reply

Creo que por los comentarios que he leido, existe consenso en que es importante que exista mas apertura para usuarios de otros idiomas. Seguramente esta herramienta sera muy importante en la medida que amplie su vision y desde luego creo que lo lograra en un futuro próximo. Saludos hispanohablantes.

Posted by Francisco Niembro August 21, 2009 at 10:57 pm Reply

I think it’s very good now. But it seems like only can analysis some nouns. If i input a sentence like “how can i get to ohio ?” it can’t get me any answers …

Posted by ZIHO August 22, 2009 at 1:23 am Reply

Google Squared appears to be similar to my patent application:

Frankly, I am getting a Déjà vu effect while going through the “Google Squared” application because it appears to be very similar in function to my United States patent application which was filed on April 12, 2007 and as publicly disclosed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on October 16, 2008, when the patent application was published.

My patent application is titled as “Method And System For Research Using Computer Based Simultaneous Comparison And Contrasting Of A Multiplicity Of Subjects Having Specific Attributes Within Specific Contexts” bearing Document Number “20080256023” and Inventor name “Nair Satheesh” which may be viewed at http://patft.uspto.gov/ upon Patent Applications: Quick Search.

Google Squared appears to be using at least some if not many of the same methods and systems as set forth by me more than two years ago in my patent application. In fact there are many more methods and systems disclosed in my patent application which I believe will help resolve certain inaccuracies found in current Google Squared application.

I have issued legal notices to Google through my Patent Attorney in the US but Google has not responded yet to any of my notices.

Posted by Nair Satheesh August 22, 2009 at 7:03 am Reply

Dear Wolframalpha

I am an italian who is having often problems with thecnical vocabularies in different languages.
It would be important to be able to change from one language to another.I hope Wolframalpha will soon be also in Italian. You are doing a fantastic work, keep going.
Emilio Fantappiè

Posted by Emilio Fantappiè August 22, 2009 at 7:04 am Reply

Hai, Congratulations for this New search engine, best of luck

Posted by NAGARAJU D V August 22, 2009 at 7:40 am Reply

I would like to see a more formal dictionary of how to word things and have a way to force W/A to read what is typed. I type my last name that has many cities and other uses (aside from last name) but W/A insists on breaking it into two irrelevant words. It does this a lot but of course I notice it on my last name more.

Posted by Bob Danforth August 22, 2009 at 10:24 am Reply

Well done Wolfram Team. Seems you are working hard.

However, this blog isnt quite a blog. May be, you could have editors to review before posting. Its a mixture of (self) review and reporting. A blog for this sort of project should rather be focused only on reporting and leave the review to users.

Secondly, it is too long. If a lot is happening, why not consider weekly or daily snippet blogging. That also would keep Wolfram in the front for those who use it and bring others. Reading a blog once every quarter seems odd in this days. It is clear that you are doing a lot, we might like to be kept more up-to-date than this.

All the best and keep the good work going.

Posted by Godwyns August 22, 2009 at 10:46 am Reply

I too am bashful at setting up a course of study. When you first launched alpha tried to refine my questions with broad categories that I myself would do a search in. There is something incredibly mysterious about being able to invent problems that are doable that yet don’t hold a student’s hand too much and give him the opportunity to own a problem.

While some might want an alpha to just answer questions and bring results; I want a tool to give me the credibility to myself that I can do my own research.

Initially, I was concerned with the former, but now, as I test my own mettle, I am curious what the latter might mean.

Posted by Paul M. Sheldon August 22, 2009 at 12:17 pm Reply

Solicito toda la informacion en Español

Posted by Armando Gonzàlez Hoyos August 22, 2009 at 1:58 pm Reply

What is a (your) gadget. What effect will I notice if I download it?
Thank you.

Posted by Ted Rowland August 22, 2009 at 2:44 pm Reply

The name “wolfram alpha” sounds ridiculous for a search/knowledge engine. It simply
shows the lack of imagination in naming a product.

Posted by Paul P August 22, 2009 at 3:21 pm Reply

ANY METHOD TO DETERMINE A CURVED LINE’S EQUATION?–(PLACED ON A CARTESIAN GRAPH IN I QUADRANT EG.)—THANKS

Posted by MIKE August 22, 2009 at 8:18 pm Reply

    Hi,

    Based on my teaching experience at the undergraduate level, there seems to be no connection between the questions students ask, and the answers a teacher or software might provide. This is because, in order to solve a problem, students must first extract keywords from the question, and connect these with the keywords they ingested while doing homework. Only then will they be able to find out what “kind” of problem they’re having. Once this is done, students are able to ask questions which can be answered. But not before. The missing element here is: keyword acquisition/recognition.

    Posted by thierry kauffmann August 25, 2009 at 10:56 am Reply

      Perhaps my comment of 30 August @ 6:56 PM will provide another perspective on solving the problem you describe.

      Posted by Don Bateman August 30, 2009 at 7:01 pm Reply

I’d like to see a switch put in so that when you search the web you can tell it to exclude or include commercial sites or personal web sites. It seems to me that the web has gone from being a large collection of personal web sites to an even larger collection of commercial web sites who unfortunately can pay to have their sites listed frst in a search. The personal web sites can be buried so far down that one never finds them. It would be a great way for people to connect if when searching you could say exclude commercial web sites; then only personal web sites would come up in a search.

Posted by Ed Tindell August 22, 2009 at 9:49 pm Reply

Very interesting – I am a fan of Wolfram Alpha although many of the commonly used styles of query which doesn’t work even when adding = or + or and/or. A deeper exploration of the linguistics should make a fascinating and hopefully productive.

Posted by Sally Ratcliffe, brand-e.biz August 23, 2009 at 3:46 am Reply

Well done Wolfram|Alpha team.

while we were thinking that existing search engines have already offered what is feasible, you came and offered us something we never thought we could get. it s amazing. with the steps that you are taking it is going to be more and more interesting as you have set in your vision on a unexplored landscape.

i have been impressed with your product and iam eagerly awaiting to see your organisation’s exponential growth.

Posted by Jawahar K August 23, 2009 at 9:18 am Reply

You need a concise statement of about 3 sentences explaining What the product/service is. You speak of a vision and mission but it isn’t articulated in the updates. Basic communication.

Posted by nancymacdonald August 23, 2009 at 12:00 pm Reply

Love WolframAlfha so far, despite necessity to learn new way of doing queries – i fail on more than 80 % of those that I try to enter intuitively/logically… so far it’s a bit too mathematic and not user friendly, but i’m sure it’s a matter of product development or user learning, idea is still genius :)

Posted by VyC LT August 23, 2009 at 2:15 pm Reply

    I experience the same frustration. I cannot figure out how to best ask a question. I have yet to receive any full or directed answer to a query. Please explain HOW to successfully frame the question.
    If this information is located elsewhere, it would be useful to put that link near the question box.
    Thx

    Posted by woodsonrainey August 24, 2009 at 9:18 am Reply

Thank you very much for the info. Looking forward to the greatness of the site.

Posted by Jigs August 23, 2009 at 4:31 pm Reply

It you be a good idea if engine returns the references of the website(s) where it extracted the information from. Currently it is efficient enough but not reliable enough for researcher to go and confirm the references.

Aqueel

Posted by Aqueel [Aqeel] Syed August 23, 2009 at 7:17 pm Reply

I already joined in but I’m unable to check this product. Is there a way I can also contribute as a tester?

Posted by Michael August 23, 2009 at 9:13 pm Reply

    Michael,

    Thank you for your interest in participating in the Wolfram|Alpha project. Please click here to apply to be a tester. Thank you.

    Posted by The PR Team August 23, 2009 at 9:20 pm Reply

Very interesting, thanks

Posted by francisco rivera August 24, 2009 at 11:50 am Reply

[...] Stephen Wolfram wrote last week, we’ve been very busy since Wolfram|Alpha’s public launch. We’re constantly [...]

greeting and congratulations .

Posted by jorgeceballos August 24, 2009 at 2:36 pm Reply

I think what you are attempting and accomplishing is nothing short of amazing.

Posted by Greg Hollingsworth August 24, 2009 at 7:23 pm Reply

I really like your blog and i respect your work. I’ll be a frequent visitor.

Posted by Clemento August 25, 2009 at 2:20 am Reply

allows negative 1998 weather particular 1979 primary

Posted by radmundgri August 25, 2009 at 6:20 am Reply

K.I.S.S.

Posted by Rob Comperchio August 25, 2009 at 10:27 am Reply

NKS is complemented by NKI (a new kind of intelligence)

Posted by AndersN August 25, 2009 at 12:09 pm Reply

    … which in turn is complemented by NLH (a New Level of Hyperbole)

    Posted by Vermillion Popp August 31, 2009 at 9:34 am Reply

I notice that you say “We pushed very hard to get it launched before the summer so that we could spend the “quiet time” of our first summer steadily enhancing it, before more people start using it more intently in the fall.”. As your site reminds us, the Earth’s axis is tilted from the plane of the ecliptic. But the Internet is everywhere. “Quiet times” maybe, but “summers” never.

Posted by Denham August 25, 2009 at 7:20 pm Reply

Thanks for the update Stephen, really enjoyed reading!

Posted by Shawn August 26, 2009 at 9:17 am Reply

Wolfram Alpha and Mathematica are incredible products, opening new avenues to answers never before available.

The enhancement I’d like to see: When Alpha presents a graph, such as for weather temperature forecast, I’d like to be able to access the underlying DATA, and not simply an image file of the graph.

Thank you and best of luck in further developments.

Nicholas Kormanik
http://www.Kormanik.com

Posted by Nicholas Kormanik August 26, 2009 at 6:55 pm Reply

I’d like to see a modern design performing the intended purpose of the Dewey Decimal System. This would require manual human categorization. This could be implemented as a relational system in that the searcher could drill down through multiple hierarchical trees and then cross link the boolean intersection of those drill-downs.

Automated search of words or phrases scales well but omits the context which the above proposed architecture would provide.

Wolfram Alpha is deducing context and doing it remarkably well, but a hybrid approach could determine actual statistics of which approach or combination is actually working best in practice.

This whole idea could result in reintroducing the serendipity of cross correlation of seemingly unrelated data. That phenomena is at the root of the “Ah Hah” moments of scientific discovery.

Posted by Don Bateman August 30, 2009 at 6:56 pm Reply

    I “dig” your idea, Don, as musicians would say. Keyword search is the holy grail.

    Posted by thierry kauffmann August 31, 2009 at 12:43 pm Reply

Thanks a lot for update, proffesor.

Posted by Erfan August 31, 2009 at 10:08 am Reply

I think it should be able to give more information when entering two companies or somthing like that. Still works great!

Posted by Cheese September 1, 2009 at 12:49 pm Reply

Great idea, it has many applications and great potential for adoption by many communities. Originally I found it difficult to enter in valid parameters/queries but now with so many examples available it’s getting much easier.

Please continue to work on the query language.

Posted by William September 1, 2009 at 11:44 pm Reply

This page in very interesting and help to understood The importance of having a page with the capacity and versatility of this, thanks for you contribution of the knowledge

Posted by omar September 8, 2009 at 3:53 pm Reply

You need to integrate a natural language processing engine to handle queries. One suggestion I have is to build a dynamic chat bot that can understand, in a sense, what is being asked. The Simms project has built this kind of bot and it fools almost everyone that it’s a human during online chats. Integrating this kind of interactivity or simple understanding of what is being requested would help your site tremendously.

Posted by Amir Sani September 18, 2009 at 5:18 pm Reply

[...] At a first glance, the website looks pretty much as it did when it first launched—with the straightforward input field. But inside that simple exterior an incredible amount has happened. Our development organization has been buzzing with activity all summer. In fact, it’s clear from the metrics that the intensity is steadily rising, with things being added at an ever-increasing rate. Continue reading… [...]

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