TAG: Units
November 1, 2010–

Wolfram|Alpha is still young and constantly improving. One of the biggest hurdles that our developers are constantly faced with is how to correctly interpret the meaning of general user inputs like “How do I factor an equation?”

Wolfram|Alpha is great at calculating answers that have specific inputs, but when general concepts are given (like “factoring”, for example), it becomes a bit tricky. How would one calculate a concept like that? Let us look at a specific example—Wolfram|Alpha can easily calculate integrals, as long as you ask it to integrate an explicit function. But what happens when you simply ask Wolfram|Alpha to “integrate”? Before, had you given this input, a number of examples using the word “integrate” would have been generated to show how to properly ask Wolfram|Alpha to calculate an integral. But now, when you enter a generic term or question related to a specific math function or formula, it provides a simple query-specific calculator.

For example, given the query “Show me how to integrate”, the following results appear:

Notice that new input fields appear (as well as optional ones in case the integral is to be calculated within a range, and/or with multiple variables). Similarly, notice how the input fields differ depending on the query: More »

July 30, 2010–

Wolfram|Alpha has a massive database of measurements that can help you solve everything from complex scientific conversions to common everyday questions. And because of the ever-connected world we live in today, we often come into contact with systems of measurement that may be unfamiliar to us.

Wolfram|Alpha.com has always been a great source for quick and easy unit conversions. But now, thanks to the newly announced Wolfram|Alpha Widgets and Widget Builder, you can create and share these Wolfram|Alpha-powered mini-apps on your blogs and with your social networks. Below is a sampling of the handy widgets that users have created in recent days—for everything from kitchen conversions to shoe sizes.

Give yourself, and perhaps readers of your cooking blog, a helping hand in the kitchen with this easy-as-pie kitchen conversion widget. This particular widget was designed to convert American units of measure. However, you can customize your own widget for other systems of measurement in just a few easy steps with the drag-and-drop Widget Builder.

Have you ever found yourself needing to convert currency when budgeting for an upcoming international trip? This simple widget allows you to convert currencies and take into account possible fees and commissions you may incur when buying or selling moneys.

Do you need a fast way to compute the distance between two physical locations in your preferred units of measurement?

Wondering whether you just awoke a friend several time zones away with a text message? Wolfram|Alpha can also perform a variety of time conversions. With this widget you can simply enter the location, such as “Dubai”, and Wolfram|Alpha will display the time difference between Dubai and your location in several different ways along with other details about the current time in Dubai.

June 16, 2010–

“It’s a quick and easy Saturday afternoon project!” We’ve all stood in the middle of our favorite home improvement store reciting that same line. Ty Pennington, Mike Holmes, Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor—they know how to make the most elaborate home improvement projects look as simple as tightening a bolt. Often the challenging part of the project is picking the perfect color of paint, or deciding between hardwood and tile flooring. But just as soon as those decisions are settled we’re faced with deciding how many feet of flooring to purchase for the kitchen or how many gallons of coral paint are needed for the north wall of the living room. But you don’t have to let a little bit of tricky math cut into your project time. Wolfram|Alpha has a number of math tools that come in handy for many common home improvement projects.

You can make quick computations and conversions from Wolfram|Alpha’s website or from the Wolfram|Alpha app for iPhone or iPad while standing in the flooring department. Wondering how many 8 x 8 square inch tiles you’ll need to cover a 12 x 14 square foot kitchen? Compute it with Wolfram|Alpha by entering “(12*14) square feet / (8*8) square inches”:

Need to know how many square feet you can cover with vinyl flooring that’s sold by the square yard? Tap into Wolfram|Alpha’s large collection of units to convert 60 square yards to square feet.

Thinking about livening up the living room with a splash of color? Query the name of your favorite hue and Wolfram|Alpha will give you a color swatch, properties, and a breakdown of related colors

Wondering how many gallons of paint you’d need per coat on a wall that’s 90 square feet? More »

June 7, 2009–

Members of the Wolfram|Alpha development team give insight on what goes into building a system like Wolfram|Alpha and how exciting it is to be a part of the project.

See Part 1 here.