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Schoeller Porter

Microsoft’s Bing—Introducing One of Wolfram|Alpha’s First Commercial API Customers

November 11, 2009 —
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Having announced the Wolfram|Alpha API just over three weeks ago, I am pleased to share in announcing Microsoft’s Bing decision engine as one of our first API customers.

Starting today, Wolfram|Alpha’s knowledge, computed from expertly curated data, will enrich Bing’s results in select areas across nutrition, health, and advanced mathematics. Wolfram|Alpha provides immediate, unbiased, and individualized information, making it distinctly different from what has traditionally been found through web search. By using Wolfram|Alpha, Bing recognizes the complementary benefits of bringing computational knowledge to the forefront of the search experience.

By using our API, Bing will be able to seamlessly access the tens of thousands of algorithms and trillions of pieces of data from Wolfram|Alpha, and directly incorporate the computations in its search results.

Microsoft’s initiative and interest in Wolfram|Alpha began earlier this year. In fact, there is an interesting story that circulates within our walls around some of our early discussions with Microsoft.

Highlighting examples of Wolfram|Alpha to the most senior executives at Microsoft, Stephen Wolfram entered the query “2^2^2^2^2”. Upon seeing the result, Bill Gates interrupted to say, “What, is that right?”

A profound silence fell over the entire room.

Stephen replied, “We do mathematics!”

Amused, Stephen, Bill, and the other executives dissected the calculation and determined that the result was, indeed, correct. Microsoft continues to pepper us with questions to this day, reflecting its continued enthusiasm in Wolfram|Alpha.

We applaud Microsoft’s vision and foresight in augmenting their search with Wolfram|Alpha, and we look forward to a fulfilling and productive partnership.


I saw ads for Bing doing functions in their website and stuff. Quite interesting that I found out why. :D

Posted by BlockJuice November 11, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Congratulations on the partnership! :)

Posted by Mohd Hisham November 11, 2009 at 2:47 pm

I wonder how much strain this will add to the WA servers. I mean, Bing is huge…

Posted by Tomi November 11, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    it is working.Chk ot at!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by samkad November 13, 2009 at 5:17 am

I went to bing’s website and typed 2^10 and it gave me web results… It’s not functioning yet. It would have been wiser to implement with a system already in place, such as Google and how it already does calculations, except do it with the wolfram API for greater expansion.

Posted by GamefreQ November 11, 2009 at 3:20 pm

There’s a bit of a difference between Bing’s answer and WA’s answer.

Bing = 65,536
WA = Well, a lot more than that…

Posted by Joe November 11, 2009 at 3:54 pm

… “What, is that right?” …

I don’t get it…?

Posted by Kristjan November 11, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Well, it depends on operator associativity.

65536 = (((2^2)^2)^2)^2
WA’s answer = 2^(2^(2^(2^2)))

I worked the first one out in my head. The second one was a bit harder.

Posted by Matt Powell November 11, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Bing says 2^2^2^2^2 == (((2^2)^2)^2)^2

Wolfram says 2^2^2^2^2 == (2^(2^(2^(2^2))))

Vastly different answers. Which is correct?!

Posted by Michael November 11, 2009 at 6:04 pm

To be fair, there is a difference between the following three lines

I guess a human mathematician interprets the first line as equivalent to the second, but computers , and computer geeks like Bill Gates, consider the first as equivalent to the third. Too bad this blog glossed over the “dissection” of the calculation and just left it as Wolfram Alpha right; Bill Gates wrong, but hey I guess I can “do mathematics” too.

Posted by Ash November 11, 2009 at 6:20 pm

It’s been a long time since any mathematical education, but I don’t understand why the formula calculates out as 2^(2^(2^(2^2))) rather than (((2^2)^2)^2)^2. That’s a massive difference & pretty counter-intuitive. It was my understanding that equations play out from left to right unless coerced by an overriding operator.

Posted by Timothy King November 11, 2009 at 6:41 pm

thats great.. bing becomes more powerful..

Posted by search November 11, 2009 at 7:02 pm

^ always operates right to left, so your first example is always wrong, and the second is always correct.

Posted by power November 11, 2009 at 8:35 pm

PLEASE TELL ME WOLFRAM|ALPHA WILL NOT CHANGE!!!!! I’d hate to see something so perfect get ruined by bing. I’m happy that WA is helping bing out, but don’t change this site for the worse….. please.

Posted by Andrew November 12, 2009 at 7:50 am

If x^y^z were (x^y)^z, then you would just write x^(yz).

(Think of e^x^2, which occurs all the time, and never means e^2x.)

Therefore x^y^z can only mean x^(y^z).

Posted by samuel black November 12, 2009 at 11:25 am

I tried the query in everybody’s favorite search engine (Google). It does not seem to handle 2^2^2^2^2. But it did 2^2^2^2 nicely, and also disected it:

2^(2^(2^2)) = 65 536

WA will definitely bring power of maths to Bing. The question is, will WA allow it to be licensed by others too (e.g. what if Google does a partnership too)?

Posted by chirag November 12, 2009 at 11:53 am

Power and Samuel Black are right, of course. I probably would have made the same mistake as Bill G., though.

Posted by Telanis November 12, 2009 at 12:07 pm

SO — Bing is incorrect, Wolfram Alpha is correct.

That is not so surprising.

What is surprising is that once Bill Gates and the other executives saw that Bing was wrong, that they did not take immediate action to fix the error.

Can anyone here explain why they would not care to have Bing be correct?

Posted by Joel November 12, 2009 at 8:31 pm

As for visualizing the problem while reading it left to right, just substitute some of the ^2′s with other numbers… 2^3^4^5^3. Reading it left to right, you’re raising 2 to some power that you need to figure out, and you don’t do that by using the base 2 right off the bat. That first number, when the operators are all ^, must be the base. Once you realize that, then you can see why you don’t just start off from the first 2. That’s why ^ must operate from the right to the left, so you solve for the power that you’re raising the base to.

Posted by Mike November 17, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Well, one week has passed since the last comment, and doesn’t seem to be generating WA answers either to the exponentiation query or the other cited useful area of nutritional facts. So it’s back to using Giggle for normal web trawls, WA for really fun research, and put Bonk back in its box for another year.

Posted by Rob November 24, 2009 at 11:46 am

What is the resullt of this info ?
This a expriment or for fun only?

Posted by raymond November 24, 2009 at 9:17 pm

You’re taking the power of a power of a power of a power of a power of a base.

Posted by Bill Gates December 3, 2009 at 1:47 pm

I tried 2^2^2^2^2 in Bing and gives an incorrect answer. It does provide a link to the (correct) calculation by Wolfram|Alpha:

Posted by Oscar C. December 7, 2009 at 12:04 pm

If bing will show web results then the webmaster will be happy about it, but if bing will give result like google do.. then webmasters will be a little sad about it. Users will really love wolframalpha because it has all the different types of results.

Posted by Essay Writer December 8, 2009 at 7:07 am


Posted by Mhd Deeb Majzub December 22, 2009 at 9:20 pm

To this day, Bing returns the wrong result.

Posted by Tiago February 15, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Is there a good laymen’s source guide to all these parameters?

Posted by Paul Heim February 25, 2010 at 10:44 pm

So the problem hasn’t been corrected ? I tried just now, and Bing still returns the same false result, 65.536…

Posted by Sauce Tomate April 1, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I wish this was google. I hate bing…

Posted by Sahil May 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm

bing in my sight was always in front of the other search engines

Posted by matbaa June 24, 2010 at 8:49 am

bing in my sight was always in front of the other search engines

Posted by haber August 7, 2010 at 5:32 am

2^2^2^2^2 – what is this man????????????? unable to resolve this…….. could explain in little bit briefly???

Posted by noeal October 11, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Power and Samuel Black are right, of course. I probably would have made the same mistake as Bill G., though.

Posted by matbaa June 15, 2011 at 10:19 am

thats great.. bing becomes more powerful..

Posted by kantar June 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Great post! Definitely you have answered some key questions many new bloggers will have

Posted by Matbaa July 10, 2011 at 9:15 am

Great information! But we all know that Google Web searches have market share of around 67% Bing’s marketers must think to get higher market share.

Posted by Rehim Nazari September 27, 2011 at 7:27 am

I wish this was google. I don’t like the others.

Posted by matbaa April 23, 2014 at 6:19 am

But we all know that Google Web searches have market share of around 67% Bing’s marketers must think to get higher market share.

Posted by Emrullah November 23, 2014 at 6:15 pm