ARCHIVE: April 2011
April 28, 2011–

Everyone needs a little break when preparing for finals! That’s why we’re giving you a special break on all Wolfram Course Assistant Apps now through Sunday, May 1, 2011.

Wolfram Course Assistant Apps will help you grasp key concepts and gain better understanding of the answers, all of which will have you feeling confident and prepared to ace your final exams!

The following Wolfram Course Assistant Apps are available for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad:

Best of luck with your finals! Our team is developing an app for every course, so be sure to check back for more helpful Wolfram Course Assistant Apps before heading to class next semester.

April 27, 2011–

Wolfram|Alpha is a powerful tool for finding information about the universe at large, but sometimes we are interested in a much smaller universe: our families. Genealogical research is an increasingly popular hobby, and one which Wolfram|Alpha can make easier using features across several of its subject areas.

We blogged last year about how Wolfram|Alpha can map family relations, which can certainly be more helpful the further your genealogical research takes you from the trunk of your family tree. Recently, another researcher (and previously unknown relative) contacted me. This new connection sent me straight to Wolfram|Alpha to determine our relationship. Her great grandfather was my great grandfather’s brother and, thanks to Wolfram|Alpha, I learned that she is my third cousin.

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April 25, 2011–

Wolfram|Alpha is written in Mathematica, which as its name suggests is a fantastic system for doing mathematics. Strong algorithms for algebraic simplification have always been a central feature of computer algebra systems, so it should come as no surprise to know that Mathematica excels at simplifying algebraic expressions. The main two commands for simplifying an expression in Mathematica are Simplify and FullSimplify. There are also many specific commands for expressing an algebraic expression in some form. For example, if you want to expand a product of linear polynomials, Expand is the appropriate function.

The good news is that everyone has access to the power of Mathematica‘s simplification and algebraic manipulation commands in Wolfram|Alpha. We will now outline some of these features in Wolfram|Alpha, starting with the expression:

and we will use Wolfram|Alpha to break it down to something significantly much simpler.
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April 18, 2011–

By popular demand, Wolfram|Alpha recently expanded population data for most of the world’s countries, based in part on statistics from the United Nations Population Division. Populations are shaped by factors such as disease, war, genocide, and famine as well as more benign phenomena such as immigration. One of the more common user requests in this area has been to support queries like “China population distribution”, which now returns an age pyramid and detailed table of population by age and sex:

You can also query for specific age groups, as indicated on the pyramid, or just query for a single age, and Wolfram|Alpha will return data for the appropriate five-year age “bin”:
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April 18, 2011–

Today, in conjunction with DuckDuckGo, we are happy to share that Wolfram|Alpha and DuckDuckGo have entered a new phase of our relationship as official partners. As a result of this partnership, DuckDuckGo will expand Wolfram|Alpha integration into its search site and will maintain the now-official Wolfram|Alpha API Perl binding.

Users of the up-and-coming search site DuckDuckGo know that the site is unique because it doesn’t track history, contains less spam, features a cute bow tie-wearing duck, and provides zero-click information that immediately pops up under the search box. Since the release of the Wolfram|Alpha API, DuckDuckGo has been gradually integrating Wolfram|Alpha’s computational knowledge engine into its offerings, providing users with dynamically computed facts.

Our friendship began when Gabriel Weinberg, Founder of DuckDuckGo,  volunteered to be an early Wolfram|Alpha tester. He went on to develop the now-official Wolfram|Alpha Perl API binding and began featuring select Wolfram|Alpha functionality on DuckDuckGo.

“Integrating Wolfram|Alpha into DuckDuckGo was a no-brainer decision, as it can provide instant answers for a broad range of general search queries that are otherwise not easy to get answers to. That’s because Wolfram|Alpha does deep processing of a lot of non-web datasets”, said Weinberg.

“Our primary goal with the launch of version 2 of the API in January was to open Wolfram|Alpha to all developers and their broad spectrum of clever ideas”, said Wolfram|Alpha’s Schoeller Porter, Architect, Developer Relations. “Gabriel and DuckDuckGo exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit by integrating Wolfram|Alpha’s computed knowledge into web search in a compelling, relevant, and ingenious way. We’re excited to be a part of DuckDuckGo’s continued growth”. More »

April 15, 2011–

Last year, we showed you how Wolfram|Alpha could help you explore some interesting historical statistics about federal income taxes in the United States. We’ve picked up the latest available figures from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) through the 2008 tax year, so you can revisit that data and see if previous years’ trends have held up.

Wolfram|Alpha still can’t do your taxes (and if you haven’t finished them yet, don’t forget you’ve got until Monday to file)… but it can compute some very interesting new facts about income taxes in the US. There’s been a lot of discussion and debate this year about state-level corporate and individual taxes and their impact on budgets and the overall business climate in any given state. So we’ve added data on the maximum and minimum individual and corporate tax rates in each US state, which means Wolfram|Alpha can now compute rankings and summary statistics about “income tax rates in US states” or perform a comparison of the “highest corporate income tax rates in Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana”.

April 12, 2011–

Vacation planning season is upon us! Planning a vacation is no easy feat, but Wolfram|Alpha can help. With data on airlines, gas prices, weather, and currency, taking a trip has never been easier.

Let’s say you’re researching locations to take a family vacation and you want to know the average temperature of the locations at a specific time of year. Query something like “temperature May Hilton Head, Miami” to compare two locations’ average temperatures for that month.

April 7, 2011–

Today the Wolfram|Alpha App for Android is the featured free app of the day in the Amazon Appstore! You can grab the app for your Android mobile device for free here.

The Wolfram|Alpha App for Android allows you to access expert knowledge on the go. Use the app’s specialized math keyboards, charts, and graphs adapted for mobile screens; support for native voice input; and location awareness to take full advantage of Wolfram|Alpha on your mobile device.

Don’t wait—the app is only available as the featured free app until the end of the day!

April 5, 2011–

If you’re concerned about the US economy, you probably caught last week’s news that Standard & Poor’s Case–Shiller home price index for 20 large cities continued to decline in January. If you’re curious to know more about recent housing trends in the US, you can not only ask Wolfram|Alpha about the 20-city index, but also for details on any of the major metropolitan areas included in that composite. For example, query “Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Miami Case–Shiller index”, and you can see just how big the housing “bubble” was in each of these four cities.

April 1, 2011–

When we released Wolfram|Alpha “into the wild” nearly two years ago, we did so knowing that user input would help shape the future of our grand experiment. Since then, we’ve implemented literally thousands of user suggestions and have continually refined our ability to understand and precisely answer natural-language questions across virtually every domain of human knowledge.

When we launched, our strongest areas of knowledge were definitely in mathematics and science, but we’ve steadily increased our coverage of data in more popular “everyday” areas: information about health and medicine, housing prices, movies, school districts, jobs, crime, and much more.
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