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 »
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.
By now, you’ve probably noticed those cute black and white squares popping up on everything from T-shirts to magazine advertisements to cereal boxes. These are called Quick Response (QR) codes, and thanks to the rise in smartphone use, they are becoming more popular than ever.
Since their inception in 1994 in Japan, QR codes have quickly risen in popularity throughout many Asian countries. The technology is still finding its footing in the United States and other western countries, but many advertisers and niche communities are adapting the 2D barcode innovation. Flip open your favorite magazine and you will most likely see the stamp-like code on multiple advertisements.
Wolfram|Alpha now offers the capability to produce QR codes. Just type in “QR code” in addition to whatever information you want to be coded. The function can encode up to 7 KB of data, including phone numbers, email addresses, URLs, or just plain text.
We’ve been having so much fun over the past few months hunting for fun facts in Wolfram|Alpha that we thought it was time to give @WolframFunFacts its very own space in the Twitterverse.
For those of you who are new to Wolfram Fun Facts, they are unique facts computed from Wolfram|Alpha’s trillions of pieces of data. All of this knowledge is built upon a computational engine that allows us to mash up topic areas such as people, finance, dates, and more to do impressive, if not outrageous, computations.
Here are just a few fun fact samples we’ve discovered in Wolfram|Alpha:
- It would require 8.4×10^11 gallons of paint to cover the surface of the moon
- If driving a car at 60 miles per hour, it will take 11.18 million years to travel one light year
- The average American consumes 125.6 lbs of potatoes per year
- The probability that two people in a 23-person room share the same birthday is 0.51
We’ll be sharing all of the fun facts that we, and you, discover every day. Follow @WolframFunFacts and tweet us your favorite #funfact!
It is immediately clear to anyone who has used the site that Wolfram|Alpha knows a lot about mathematics. When computing integrals, sums, statistics, properties of mathematical objects, or a myriad of other mathematical and mathematics-related problems, it typically returns an extensive and exhaustively complete result. Which is of course not surprising, given that Wolfram|Alpha has the entire power and knowledge of Mathematica behind it, especially when combined with the fact that this native “smarts” is further augmented with large amounts of curated data and customized processing.
However, many visitors to the site have noted in the past that Wolfram|Alpha had relatively little computable knowledge about mathematical terms themselves, a state of affairs in contrast to its knowledge of words in the English language, and perhaps surprising in light of the existence of another Wolfram site devoted to the definition and description of terms in mathematics, namely MathWorld.
As readers of MathWorld likely already know, the entire MathWorld website is written and built using Mathematica. It has therefore been possible to programmatically process the entire 13,000+ entries comprising MathWorld into the native data format of Wolfram|Alpha, thus exposing its content in more computable form.
As an example of the sort of new knowledge this confluence brings to Wolfram|Alpha, consider the input “Lorenz attractor”. In the past, this would simply bring up a Wolfram|Alpha future topic page.
With the incorporation of MathWorld content, the default parse now goes to a description of the attractor, complete with an illustrative figure and some helpful typeset equations:
Today we unveiled a new look on the wolframalpha.com site. We decided the website needed to be reorganized to allow expansion for upcoming consumer, enterprise, and developer products. 2011 is going to be an exciting year for Wolfram|Alpha!
When visiting the site you’ll notice an updated version of your home page. Once you’re there, “take a quick tour”, visit the newly redesigned product pages, and explore resources and tools.
You may have noticed that we’re developing new features on the results pages, too. One of those features is “linked results”. For example, enter a query for “Chicago”. Notice the blue underlined links? Click one to dig deeper into Wolfram|Alpha and see more related information.
We’re also developing “dog-ear peelbacks”. Hover over the dog-ear in the left corner of each pod to uncover how you can save the contents of the pod as an image or copyable plaintext.
The site’s new look is just the first of many new things to come here at Wolfram|Alpha. We’re looking forward to sharing them with you!
Contestants in Wolfram|Alpha’s Deck the Halls with Facts & Knowledge Holiday Gift-Away have been busy submitting their favorite Wolfram|Alpha fun facts, assembling their free Wolfram|Alpha Spikey paper sculpture kits, and snapping photos for the vote-off. Now you get to decide who will win!
Now through January 3, 2011, you can vote once per day for your favorite entry. Your votes will help the 500 contestants win great gifts, such as Mathematica Professional (value: $2495), an iPad, Wolfram mobile apps, and much more! Oh, and you could be one of the random lucky voters to win one of the newly inked Wolfram|Alpha Spikey T-shirts—not available anywhere else—in our daily drawings!
Contestants, here are a few helpful tips to help your entry climb the charts. First, be sure to vote every day! Then use the built-in sharing tools to ask your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites to vote for your entry once per day, every day! Be sure to let them know how they can win, too!
If you are a contestant who’s still waiting for your Spikey to arrive, no worries; you can upload your Spikey photo to the gallery anytime through January 3, 2011.
Winners will be announced here and on the website on January 5, 2011. Now jump over to the gallery to vote for your favorite entry!
Wolfram|Alpha isn’t just the wolframalpha.com website; it’s a whole range of technologies. While the website may be the most familiar way to access these technologies, there are many potential uses and interfaces for the Wolfram|Alpha technology. We’ve already seen a few. Mobile apps for Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS make Wolfram|Alpha accessible anywhere. Widgets allow users to tap portions of Wolfram|Alpha and bring them into their own webpages. The Wolfram|Alpha API allows programmers to integrate Wolfram|Alpha’s data and computation abilities in their own programs. There are even private custom versions of Wolfram|Alpha used to analyze confidential corporate data.
But now there’s another interface to Wolfram|Alpha, one which brings with it a whole new set of capabilities: Mathematica. With the new Mathematica 8, you can access the Wolfram|Alpha engine directly from within Mathematica. Inside a Mathematica notebook document, just type == at the beginning of a line; you’ll get an orange Spikey icon indicating that Mathematica is ready to perform a Wolfram|Alpha query. Now simply type anything that you would type into the Wolfram|Alpha website. You’ll get back the same results as on the website—and more! Using the full power of the Mathematica software, this interface to Wolfram|Alpha allows new levels of interactivity and detail.
In Mathematica, all graphics can be resized, and three-dimensional graphics can be rotated. Moreover, since Mathematica receives the underlying vector graphic from Wolfram|Alpha and not simply a bit-mapped image, this means that enlarging a graphic provides greater detail instead of a boxy image. For example, let’s look at everyone’s favorite three-dimensional surface, the Mathematica Spikey.
By simply clicking and dragging, you can rotate the Spikey. To resize, click the resize points on the frame that appear after clicking on the graphic. More »
Have you ever wanted a simple way to explain Wolfram|Alpha to your friends? Now you can by sharing our new video, “Wolfram|Alpha in a Nutshell”.
Sure, it’s pretty cool that Wolfram|Alpha is the world’s first computational knowledge engine, containing trillions of pieces of data in more than 1,000 domains. (Wow, that’s a mouthful!) But what’s really important to you is how it can provide you with exact answers for questions in topic areas ranging from astronomy and food and nutrition to math, socioeconomics, and so on.
If you’d like to explore more about the world of Wolfram|Alpha, check out our new About page, which contains community resources, products, downloads, and more.
Go ahead, share “Wolfram|Alpha in a Nutshell” with your friends!
Have you ever wanted to contribute to Wolfram|Alpha? Do you have an area of expertise you would like to share with the world? By becoming a volunteer data curator for Wolfram|Alpha, you can help us expand our data and be a part of our initiative to make the world’s knowledge computable.
We’ve now made it easier than ever to contribute with the opening of Volunteer Central, the new landing pad for Wolfram|Alpha volunteers.
Volunteer Central is a place for contributors to get updates, check out new projects, and track their progress. Projects are categorized into challenge areas, which are searchable in the dashboard. After applying for an account on the network and creating a login, you can easily find projects to work on, upload them, and see your completed and in-progress projects all in one place.
Uploading a new project earns you “data points”, which add up in your dashboard. Different levels of data points will earn you badges that you can display proudly on your Facebook page and Twitter, as well as other websites.
We currently have projects in challenge areas ranging from currency data to video game data, and we will be adding new projects on a consistent basis. If you want to contribute, but don’t see a challenge area that interests you, you can suggest it by emailing us.
Volunteer Central is a fun and easy way to contribute to Wolfram|Alpha and connect with other Wolfram|Alpha enthusiasts. Use your passion for data for good and sign up to be a volunteer today!
Our first Wolfram|Alpha Back-to-School Webinars were met with so much interest and enthusiasm that we’re announcing three more opportunities for you to participate!
Sign up today for one of our Wolfram|Alpha Back-to-School Webinars and discover powerful new ways to advance learning in your classroom. The hour-long webinar gives you an overview and demonstration of the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine, including the recently launched Widget Builder (beta).
Administrators, parents, and students will also benefit from these webinars.
To register for a webinar, please click one of the three sessions listed below. Registration is free and takes just a few minutes. A copy of the presentation will also be made available to those who attend.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 9am Pacific Time
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 2pm Pacific Time
Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 5pm Pacific Time
We look forward to having you and your colleagues join us for an upcoming webinar!
We’re continually looking for new ways to make accessing and sharing knowledge from Wolfram|Alpha simpler. As a result, we’ve introduced a new tool that allows you to share and bookmark knowledge directly from any Wolfram|Alpha results page.
With the new “Bookmark & Share” features, you can easily post Wolfram|Alpha results to Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and Reddit. Hover over the more icon ( + ) to share via email, bit.ly, Tumblr, and dozens of other social networking and sharing sites.
We look forward to sharing more tools and site enhancements with you in the near future. And as always, we love hearing ideas on how we can continue to make Wolfram|Alpha a fun experience for you!
Wolfram|Alpha widget “builders” have been busy creating and sharing their innovative Wolfram|Alpha-powered mini apps on their sites and with their social networks. We’re thrilled by your excitement and widget-building efforts.
Beginning today, we’re shining a light on some of the most popular widgets in the gallery, one of which will be designated as the featured widget on the home page. Not only can you use any of these featured widgets on the Wolfram|Alpha Widgets site, but it’s easy to embed any of these widgets on your site, too!
This week’s featured widget on the home page is a quick calorie calculator that lets you calculate the number of calories burned when running, walking, biking, swimming, and cross-country skiing. You can even personalize your results by taking into account factors such as sex, age, distance, and speed.
When we introduced the beta versions of Wolfram|Alpha Widgets and Widget Builder just a few short weeks ago, we asked, “So, what will you widget?” The answer we got was “A lot of creative, outside-the-box widgets!”
We fully expected to be blown away by all of the innovative and fun ways users would harness the power of Wolfram|Alpha on their blogs, websites, and on their social media networks. Wolfram|Alpha users have already customized and built over 1300 widgets with the easy-to-use drag-and-drop Widget Builder. You can browse them all in the Widget Gallery. If you haven’t created your first widget yet, take a quick tour or check out the demo video to see how simple it is to build your own free, custom Wolfram|Alpha-powered mini-app.
Not only have users been excited about customizing and building widgets, but they’ve been sharing them too! We’ve stumbled upon an impressive number of widgets on Twitter and Facebook. And widgets have been embedded in over 500 websites and blogs to date. We thought you’d enjoy seeing some of the handy widgets users are creating and sharing on a variety of websites and blogging platforms.
@ThinktankPlanet tweeted us a link to their custom astronomy widget on the Thinktank Birmingham science museum’s website. If you want to find the location of an astronomical object in the sky for a given city, time, and date, give this widget a try. You may also want to see how this custom widget appears on the website.
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.
The beta version of Wolfram|Alpha Widgets is here! What are Wolfram|Alpha Widgets? They’re free, Wolfram|Alpha-powered mini apps that are easy to make, customize, and share on your blog, website, and social networks. And they’re the next step toward our goal of making the vast knowledge and computational power of Wolfram|Alpha available to everyone, everywhere.
Widgets are a new and personal way to experience Wolfram|Alpha. Want to have an Wolfram|Alpha-powered app on your blog that calculates the adult height and weight of a child based on his or her current stats? Or how about an app that compares the financial data of two public companies? Want to create a customized nutritional label for any recipe you have? Calculate integrals on the fly? Or locate an object in the sky? The possibilities are limitless. For more examples of widgets, see the hundreds already in the Widget Gallery. You can freely take any of these widgets and put them on your own site as is or customize them any way you wish.
Don’t see an existing widget for your area of interest? Using the new drag-and drop Widget Builder, you can create your own widget using anything in Wolfram|Alpha’s vast knowledge base in just a few easy steps. Once you’ve built and customized your widget, it will automatically be added to the widget gallery where you can share it with others.
We fully expect to be blown away by all of the cool and innovative ways you harness the power of Wolfram|Alpha widgets. Here are just a few ways we want to help you share your use of widgets with the world!
- Once you’ve published your widget in the widget gallery, share the link with your social networks and ask to have your widget rated. Your widget will be rocking the ratings charts in no time.
- Show how you’re using widgets on your blog by sharing a link to your blog on Twitter. Be sure to include the hashtag #WolframAlphaWidget. Oh, and be sure to follow @Wolfram_Alpha!
- Post a link to your widget and/or blog on the the wall of the Wolfram|Alpha Facebook group, and ask your friends to “Like” it!
We’ll select the most interesting uses of widgets and highlight them on the Wolfram|Alpha Blog, in the Wolfram|Alpha Community, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
So, what will you widget? Click here to get started.
We can hardly believe it, but one year ago today the Wolfram|Alpha Blog said hello to the blogosphere! Since that day we have published 176 posts covering everything from the launch of Wolfram|Alpha to new data and features developed by members of the Wolfram|Alpha Team, and guest posts by fans of Wolfram|Alpha who are introducing the computational knowledge engine into facets of everyday life.
We’d like to thank the authors and commenters who have made this blog the success that it is today. We’d like to invite you and all of our other 3.9 million unique readers back for another amazing year of coverage from the front lines of Wolfram|Alpha. And if you have not done so already, please subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed. We hope you’ll celebrate with us by taking a look back through the archives. Please use the comments section below to share links to your favorite posts and suggest future topics.
Happy birthday, Wolfram|Alpha Blog!
The Wolfram|Alpha Community is the hub for conversation about using Wolfram|Alpha in areas such as education, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, engineering, and a wide variety of other subjects. You can also share your thoughts with other users and the Wolfram|Alpha Team in the Ideas & Suggestions, Bugs, and How-To forums.
Today we’re releasing the first issue of the Wolfram|Alpha Community Newsletter to keep you connected and up to speed with the latest news and discussions surrounding the world’s first computational knowledge engine.
If you’re already a member of the Wolfram|Alpha Community, you can look forward to receiving a weekly digest highlighting the hottest member-generated topics, news updates from the Wolfram|Alpha Blog, the Community’s top contributors and newest members, and much more. We would like to thank the active members who have made the Community what it is today, and invite you to join it if you haven’t already done so!
It’s said that everything big happens in Texas! And on Sunday night, Wolfram|Alpha won big at the 13th Annual SXSW Web Interactive Awards in Austin, Texas. Our first win of the night was in the Technical Achievement category, which is awarded to “sites that are re-inventing and re-defining the technical parameters of our online experience”. We were pleasantly surprised to also receive the Best of Show award.
We are grateful for the support shown by our users and members of the technology community this past year, and we can’t wait to share all of the big things Wolfram|Alpha has in store!
On Wolfram|Alpha’s YouTube Channel you can catch behind-the-scenes footage of some of the work that went into creating the computational knowledge engine, take a virtual tour of one of the system’s supercomputers, and much more.
Here are a few of our favorite Wolfram|Alpha videos to get you started.
Rack ‘n’ Roll
Here’s our system administration team hard at work on one of the many pre-launch projects:
Wolfram|Alpha Launch: Introduction
In this introductory video, Wolfram|Alpha’s creator, Stephen Wolfram, welcomes viewers to the live launch event on May 15, 2009. You can view 11 additional videos from the Wolfram|Alpha Launch playlist, too.
A Moment with the Wolfram|Alpha Developers
This video is the first from the series “A Moment with the Wolfram|Alpha Developers“. In this series, some of the developers describe their roles and share their thoughts about the Wolfram|Alpha project.
Wolfram|Alpha Homework Day: Teaching 4th Grade Students Using Wolfram|Alpha
Educators and students will appreciate the collection of videos from our first-ever Wolfram|Alpha Homework Day, including interviews and demonstrations by educators and administrators who are using Wolfram|Alpha in their schools. In this clip, Shannon Smith, a fourth grade teacher, shares how she integrates Wolfram|Alpha into all of the subject areas that she teaches, from spelling and language to geography, science, and math.
Wolfram|Alpha Explores the Science of Punkin’Chuckin’
See the Wolfram pumpkin fly at the first annual CUPunkin’Chuckin’ Challenge. Punkin’Chuckin’ is the art of hurling pumpkins (or multiple pumpkins) great distances with smartly engineered, often homemade, devices such as trebuchets and catapults. You can also check out our blog post to learn more about punkin’ chuckin’.
We hope you enjoyed these and our other Wolfram|Alpha videos available on YouTube, and we invite you to subscribe to the Wolfram|Alpha channel so you’ll be notified when new ones are posted. What things would you like to see us cover in upcoming videos?
Prior to releasing Wolfram|Alpha into the world this past May, we launched the Wolfram|Alpha Blog. Since our welcome message on April 28, we’ve made 133 additional posts covering Wolfram|Alpha news, team member introductions, and “how-to’s” in a wide variety of areas, including finance, nutrition, chemistry, astronomy, math, travel, and even solving crossword puzzles.
As 2009 draws to a close we thought we’d reach into the archives to share with you some of this year’s most popular blog posts.
Rack ’n’ Roll
Take a peek at our system administration team hard at work on one of the
many pre-launch projects. Continue reading…
The Secret Behind the Computational Engine in Wolfram|Alpha
Although it’s tempting to think of Wolfram|Alpha as a place to look up facts, that’s only part of the story. The thing that truly sets Wolfram|Alpha apart is that it is able to do sophisticated computations for you, both pure computations involving numbers or formulas you enter, and computations applied automatically to data called up from its repositories.
Why does computation matter? Because computation is what turns generic information into specific answers. Continue reading…
Live, from Champaign!
Wolfram|Alpha just went live for the very first time, running all clusters.
This first run at testing Wolfram|Alpha in the real world is off to an auspicious start, although not surprisingly, we’re still working on some kinks, especially around logging.
While we’re still in the early stages of this long-term project, it is really gratifying to finally have the opportunity to invite you to participate in this project with us. Continue reading…
Wolfram|Alpha Q&A Webcast
Stephen Wolfram shared the latest news and updates about Wolfram|Alpha and answered several users’ questions in a live webcast yesterday.
We’re really catching the holiday spirit here at Wolfram|Alpha.
We recently announced our special holiday sale for the Wolfram|Alpha app. Now we are launching our first-ever Wolfram|Alpha “Holiday Tweet-a-Day” contest.
Here’s how it works.
From tomorrow, Tuesday, December 22, through Saturday, January 2, we’ll use Twitter to give away a gift a day. Be the first to retweet our “Holiday Tweet-a-Day” tweet and you get the prize! You can double your chances to win by following and playing along with Wolfram Research.
Start following us today so you don’t miss your chance to win with our Wolfram|Alpha “Holiday Tweet-a-Day” contest.
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.
It’s been little over two weeks since the Wolfram|Alpha App for the iPhone and iPod touch was released to the world on the App Store. During that time, the app has gained a substantial following, was listed as “What’s Hot” on the App Store, has ignited a passionate discussion over pricing and the viability of ambitious apps on the App Store, and has even had an unexpected bug fixed. It has been an exciting couple of weeks.
As noted in a couple of the App Store reviews, the initial release of the app wasn’t perfect. We’ve been developing commercial software for over 20 years, but despite this, it seems no matter how much effort one puts into testing, you’ll always find issues in the wild. Thanks in large part to immediate feedback through Twitter, this blog, and other blog posts about the Wolfram|Alpha App, we were able to narrow the issue down to an obscure bug in the auto-update mechanism for the in-app examples and immediately issue a fix by updating the way the Wolfram|Alpha API responds to the problematic queries. We agree with you: a $50 app should not crash.
The discussion on pricing has certainly been lively. I’d like to take a moment to respond to a number of questions that have popped up in the discussion.
Why not offer a free version of the app?
The Wolfram|Alpha website is the free version. You can access the website through Safari on the iPhone at no cost. You can even put a link to the Wolfram|Alpha web page on your home screen if you want.
If the website is free, why pay $50 for the app?
The website and the app offer different experiences in using Wolfram|Alpha. We’ve spent a great deal of time tuning the Wolfram|Alpha App for the specific needs of iPhone users. As has been observed by many, the changes aren’t dramatic. You get the exact same results from the website as you do from the app, and you have the same level and breadth of capability. We’re not limiting the website’s functionality to drive app sales. More »
There’s a lot going on in the Wolfram|Alpha project these days—and this week there’s a remarkable convergence of events.
Late last week we introduced the Wolfram|Alpha Webservice API, allowing outside developers to call Wolfram|Alpha from their websites or application programs.
Then yesterday we released the first mobile implementation of Wolfram|Alpha, in the form of an iPhone app.
Tomorrow, we’re doing something completely different: Wolfram|Alpha Homework Day—a 14-hour live webcast event for students and educators.
Thanks for participating and submitting great questions. We look forward to sharing more with you in future web events.
Whether it’s Wolfram|Alpha, Mathematica, or A New Kind of Science, Stephen Wolfram is a man of big ideas. And this Thursday, September 17, at 2pm U.S. CDT, he will be sharing some of his thoughts, and taking your questions during a live webcast on justin.tv.
If you have a question you’d like to ask Stephen, please send it as a comment to this blog post or tweet to @Wolfram_Alpha. We’ll also be taking questions live on the justin.tv chat during the webcast.
Thanks again for all of your interest and support. We look forward to sharing this live webcast with you.
We are pleased to announce the arrival of the new and improved Wolfram|Alpha Community site. As Wolfram|Alpha‘s vibrant community has grown, we’ve received helpful feedback, and it was clear that you needed a more expandable platform for sharing ideas and interacting.
The new Community site enables you to talk to each other and share relevant and interesting content. We created some starter groups based on topics we’ve already seen arise around Wolfram|Alpha. If you don’t see the group you are looking for, feel free to post it in the Community. We also created forums for general feedback, including ideas and suggestions, bugs, and how-to’s, so that you can propose and discuss changes and ideas.
In the new Wolfram|Alpha Community you can track individual posts more easily, create polls, send messages to other users, and see who else is online. You can also select views, such as unanswered posts, most active posts, or posts new since your last login. Members can also see a detailed User Panel that lets them view their posting statistics and share contact information with other members.
If you are already a member of the Community, you will receive an email containing a new password, which you can change upon logging in to the new Community site. If you want to become a member, simply go to the Community and select “register” to create a profile so you can begin posting.
We hope that the Wolfram|Alpha Community can continue to be the hub for discussion about Wolfram|Alpha. We would like the thank the active members who have made the Community a success, and invite you to join it if you haven’t already done so!
Time just named Wolfram|Alpha as one of the 50 best websites of 2009. We are delighted to receive this recognition in just our first 100 days. According to journalist Adam Fisher, “Clear out your bookmarks. You’re going to need the space for 50 offerings that are indispensable….”
“Today’s search whiz kid is Stephen Wolfram, one of the biggest brains on the planet—and he’s got the new idea. Wolfram has developed a search engine that can actually understand your questions and try to figure out answers. It takes some doing to learn how to talk to Wolfram|Alpha, but it’s well worth it. If the sci-fi writers are right and the Internet does gain a consciousness of its own someday, we’ll all blame Wolfram.”“The 50 Best Websites of 2009,”
As Stephen Wolfram wrote last week, we’ve been very busy since Wolfram|Alpha’s public launch. We’re constantly working toward our ultimate goal of making all of the world’s knowledge computable, and while we’ve got quite a way to go, we already have many trillion pieces of information available—something of value for everyone.
Thank you for your continued support and feedback. We hope you enjoy Wolfram|Alpha.
Whether you’re a casual user of Wolfram|Alpha or an enthusiast, we have designed several cool tools that put Wolfram|Alpha at your fingertips.
Give these tools a test drive and tell us what you think.
You can access all of these through the Downloads link at the top of Wolfram|Alpha.
Our team is hard at work going through the tens of thousands of comments, suggestions, and questions coming in about Wolfram|Alpha.
We thought you’d enjoy hearing Stephen Wolfram respond to some of this feedback directly.
This Thursday, June 4, at 4 pm US CDT, we invite you to join us for a live webcast as Stephen answers some of the questions you’ve sent in. He’ll discuss the problems, the fixes, the future, and more.
If you have a question you’d like Stephen to answer, post it as a comment to this blog post.
We’ll also be taking questions live on the justin.tv chat during the webcast.
Thanks again for all of your interest and support. We look forward to sharing this live webcast with you.
Wolfram|Alpha is officially launched!
Wolfram|Alpha went live in test mode at 8:48pm CST on Friday. Our teams worked intensely through the weekend to complete load testing, fix bugs, and begin to address the feedback you have provided—over 22,000 feedback messages. During testing, Wolfram|Alpha processed nearly 23 million queries; by our estimates, approximately 3 out of 4 gave satisfactory results.
By late Sunday night, we were able to test all compute clusters at full capacity.
Today we are officially launching Wolfram|Alpha to the world at large. It has been a very successful weekend of testing and learning. We’re flattered by the positive reception thus far, and we are dedicated to furthering the project with the help of you, our community of users.
To that end we are officially launching the Wolfram|Alpha Community, which allows you to submit questions, ideas, and favorite inputs.
We already have a few static forms to contribute things such as facts, figures, and structured data or algorithms, methods, and models. The Community serves to supplement these types of feedback with a more free-form discussion among all Wolfram|Alpha users.
In the Community, you can vote for items that you feel deserve further attention. We support threaded commenting, unique user profiles, and social sharing via email, Twitter, and Facebook. The Community also allows you to “save” items of interest so that you can track their progress over time.
This crowd-sourced model will help our team here gain a better understanding of what features, improvements, and possibilities the Community thinks are most interesting and worthwhile.
There has been a tremendous amount of useful feedback thus far, and much of that information is being used to make immediate improvements in near real time.
But it is also our hope that the Wolfram|Alpha Community will help make the feedback process more direct and have more impact. The Community will provide us with a mechanism to report back to you with changes, new results and capabilities, and overall improvements, thereby closing the loop and making the entire system more transparent.
Of course, we won’t be able to respond to every submission. But we’ll do our very best to respond to all relevant and substantive items. Additionally, it is our hope that members of the Community will likewise take the time to assist their peers, pointing them in the right direction and offering valuable advice and context.
Thanks again for all of your support and please join us in the Community!
In the first 24 hours of our launch weekend, we received nearly 10,000 messages forwarded from the feedback forms on the bottom of each Wolfram|Alpha page. The compliments have been very gratifying.
The feedback has been insightful and entertaining. You’ve offered lots of suggestions, from additional domains and analysis to computations that have gone awry. We thought you might enjoy seeing some of the feedback we’ve received. More »
This is a proud moment for us and for the whole Mathematica community. (We hope the launch goes well!)
Wolfram|Alpha defines a new direction in computing—that would have simply not have been possible without Mathematica, and that in time will add some remarkable new dimensions to Mathematica itself.
In terms of technology, Wolfram|Alpha is a uniquely complex software system, which has been entirely developed and deployed with Mathematica and Mathematica technologies.
We’re now in the final stages of getting ready to launch Wolfram|Alpha. It’s a hugely complex piece of technology; certainly one of the most complex web-based services ever constructed. We’ve sought advice from many experts as we’ve designed its infrastructure and technology management processes.
But we’ve been rather surprised that we haven’t been able to find even a single publicly available record of the commissioning of any large website at all. So we thought we would document our own experience and that perhaps some of you would like to share this journey with us. We can’t guarantee that everything will go smoothly. Indeed, we fully expect to encounter unanticipated situations along the way. We hope that you’ll find it interesting to join us as we work through these in real time. Perhaps you’ll even have some advice to share. More »
As part of our testing, for a short time yesterday we opened up access to a small test cluster that was being used for load testing. Within minutes, thousands of people discovered this and started exploring Wolfram|Alpha.
(We recognize Cape Town, Delhi, Tokyo, Lima, Rio de Janeiro… We’re not quite so sure about the spot in the heart of the Australian desert.)
In any case, we’re continuing our final preparations. We plan to launch late next week, with the official date now set for May 18.
Thanks for all of your encouragement!
In the last three months, I’ve discussed Wolfram|Alpha one-on-one with well over 300 people from all over the world and all walks of life. Wolfram|Alpha is a service unlike any other, and people’s reactions reflect this. When simple analogy is not possible, the discussions take on a whole different tone than that of a typical product introduction.
Here are some of the reactions floating around the web. They reflect the diversity of conversations I’ve had in my one-on-ones. What’s your take?
“While search engines like Google, by and large, find things that already exist on the Internet—Web sites, photos, videos, blogs—Wolfram|Alpha answers questions, often by doing complex, and new computations.” —From The New York Times Bits blog