ARCHIVE: May 2011
May 26, 2011–

Today we released the new Wolfram Statistics Course Assistant App for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. If you are a student of introductory statistics, the probability that you’ll love the all-new Wolfram Statistics Course Assistant is pretty high! The app will help you better understand concepts such as mean, median, mode, standard deviation, probabilities, data points, random integers, random real numbers, and more.

Learning about the normal or binomial distribution? This app will show you the probability density function as well as the cumulative density function and other information.
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May 24, 2011–

Ah, spring! The time of year when winter coats are exchanged for short sleeved shirts, space heaters for open windows, and winter colds for stuffy noses, rashes, and itchy or watery eyes. When suffering from any set of symptoms, misery often seeks company, and what better way to find out how many other people share in your seasonal symptomatology than through Wolfram|Alpha? By aggregating survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our medical content team has put together a unique set of symptom-searching tools that will enable you to investigate all of the symptoms you may experience throughout the year. For example, by entering “sneeze”, you can immediately find that an estimated 960,000 patients complain of sneezing when they visit the doctor each year, and that marginally more male patients complain of sneezing than female patients.

May 23, 2011–

Recently, CNNMoney published stories highlighting the “20 most profitable companies” and those considered to be the “20 biggest money losers”. Companies such as Exxon Mobil, AT&T, Apple, and Verizon were ranked by their 2010 profits, with each of the 20 profitable companies bringing in well over a billion dollars.

Using the information provided by both articles, there are many opportunities to gain more data on each of the companies from Wolfram|Alpha. For example, Exxon Mobil topped the list of most profitable companies, but has it always been profitable? Entering “Exxon earnings” into Wolfram|Alpha produces data and graphs documenting its earnings history.

May 20, 2011–

To mark the second anniversary of the launch of Wolfram|Alpha, I did an interactive webcast:

Here’s a transcript of my introduction:

[Note: here is what I wrote for Wolfram|Alpha's first anniversary a year ago.]

So, as of today, Wolfram|Alpha has officially been out in the wild for two years.

And I’m happy to say, it’s doing really well.

You know, I’d been thinking about building Wolfram|Alpha for more than 30 years.

And I’ve been working to build the stack of ideas and technology to make it possible for nearly that long.

At the beginning, I was not really sure that Wolfram|Alpha was going to be possible at all.

And I think if I look a year ago from now my main conclusion was that after a year out in the wild, we’d proved that, yes, Wolfram|Alpha was indeed possible.

Well, now that we’re two years out, I think my conclusion is: Wolfram|Alpha is even a lot more important than I thought it was.

This effort to make all our knowledge computable is really something very fundamental, that’s sort of inevitably going to be needed just all over the place.

So what have we been up to this year?
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May 18, 2011–

It is hard to believe that just two years ago today Wolfram|Alpha was released for free on the web. It’s been another big year for our mission of making all of the world’s knowledge computable. Since Stephen Wolfram’s first annual update, we’ve been introducing curated data at an unprecedented rate, developing new site features and releasing a host of new developer and consumer products.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the new features, products, data, and capabilities we’ve added over the last year. You can explore this list here.

To expand on what we’ve been working on this year, Wolfram|Alpha’s creator Stephen Wolfram will take your questions in a live Q&A webcast today at 1pm EDT. We hope you will join us!

Thank you for making Wolfram|Alpha’s second year an exciting and creative time. We can’t wait to show you what’s next.

May 17, 2011–

Plotting functions in the Cartesian plane is such a simple task with Wolfram|Alpha: just enter the function you are looking to graph, and within seconds you will have a beautiful result. If you are feeling daring, enter a multivariate function, and the result will be a 3D Cartesian graph. Wolfram|Alpha is certainly not limited to Cartesian plotting; we have the functionality to make number lines, 2D and 3D polar plots, 2D and 3D parametric plots, 2D and 3D contour plots, implicit plots, log plots, log-linear plots, matrix plots, surface of revolution plots, region plots, list plots, pie charts, histograms, and more. Furthermore, in Wolfram|Alpha we can generate specialized plots for illustrating asymptotes, cusps, maxima, minima, inflection points, saddle points, solutions of ordinary differential equations, poles, eigenvalues, series expansions, definite integrals, 2D inequalities, interpolating polynomials, least-squares best fits, and more. Let’s take a look at the plotting functionality in Wolfram|Alpha, some of which is newly improved!

We will start simple with 2D Cartesian plots.

Here we plot sin(√7x)+19cos(x) for x between -20 and 20.

May 13, 2011–

Another year has flown by here at Wolfram|Alpha, and the gears are really turning! New data and features are flowing at a rapid rate. To celebrate, Wolfram|Alpha’s creator, Stephen Wolfram, will share what we’ve been working on and take your questions in a live Q&A.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, please send it as a comment to this blog post or tweet to @Wolfram_Alpha and include the hashtag #WAChat. We’ll also be taking questions live on Facebook and Livestream chat during the webcast.

We’re looking forward to chatting with you on May 18!

May 13, 2011–

Do you need some help navigating your chemistry or precalculus classes? Or maybe you’re still trying to decide which classes to take this fall. Good news! Today, we’re releasing the Wolfram General Chemistry and Precalculus Course Assistant Apps, two more Wolfram|Alpha-powered course assistants that will help you better understand the concepts addressed in these classes.

If you’re taking chemistry, download the Wolfram General Chemistry Course Assistant App for everything from looking up simple properties like electron configurations to computing the stoichiometric amounts of solutes that are present in solutions of different concentrations. This app is handy for lab researchers, too!

The specialized keyboard allows you to enter chemicals by using formulas or by spelling out their names.
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May 6, 2011–

In 2010, our friends at the World Bank opened up their highly regarded World Development Indicators (WDI) database, making hundreds of economics, education, health, and other indicators free to download and explore. As part of our own mission to make data more accessible and comprehensible, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve been steadily adding WDI and other World Bank data to Wolfram|Alpha, so you can answer thousands of new questions about key components of global development.

One of the first sets we tackled was data on labor and employment, which means Wolfram|Alpha can now generate some quite detailed computations and comparisons of employment-related data for most of the world’s countries and territories. Try an input like “fraction of people working in agriculture in US, Russia, and Japan” to see find out how much less agrarian these economies have become over time. More »

May 4, 2011–

In light of the accident at the nuclear facility in Fukushima, Japan following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, there has been an increased interest about nuclear power and nuclear reactors worldwide. Due to the desire for factual information about this important topic, we have added data on commercial nuclear power reactors—based on information from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—to Wolfram|Alpha.

The IAEA’s database has information on all of the world’s commercial nuclear power plants, including those currently operating, those that have been shutdown, and reactors under construction. Ask Wolfram|Alpha for “all nuclear reactors”, and it is evident that nuclear power is a widely used source of electrical energy.
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May 2, 2011–

There are more than four million births per year in the US alone. And just in time for spring, a time associated with new life, Wolfram|Alpha’s research team has introduced a unique set of tools to help soon-to-be mothers and fathers better understand what is happening to their developing fetuses throughout pregnancy.

One of the most common methods of monitoring fetal development is through ultrasounds. Besides providing first glimpses of the baby, ultrasound images also provide doctors and technicians with important information about the fetus’s physical development. This information is useful in helping doctors diagnose, predict, and potentially avoid complications further down the line in pregnancy. To find out the typical measurements of a fetus for a given gestational age (e.g. 21 weeks), try entering something like “pregnant 21 weeks” into Wolfram|Alpha.

For the gestational age of 21 weeks, Wolfram|Alpha can tell you the estimated fetal weight, the normal range of fetal weights, and the estimated dates of conception and birth.