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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

A Moment with the Wolfram|Alpha Developers (Part 2)

June 7, 2009 —
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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.


It is quite elitist to imply that users haven’t heard of the metric system.

Posted by Mills June 7, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Thanks for sharing/showing who has been working on W/A. It means a lot to me to hear real people rather than a faceless logo. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Please continue this human picture of W/A. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Perhaps once a month a long interview can be done with a person, not just the key folks.

Btw, please add support for showing how answers/solutions was done for math stuff in Mathematica 8. Steps how you got the answer/solution is just as important, something called proofs. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Keep it up.

Posted by Andrew Meit June 7, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Look, the font size is small and so typing : than ; was hard to see well. Gezz, give me a break. Having a button array or popup to enter smileys would help. I only sought to be positive in the posting.

    Posted by Andrew Meit June 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm


As a developer myself I have a question which I would like to get answered. Why do you use pictures for your results? I find this to be extremly annoying. When I find a word which I don’t know I mark it with the mouse and then via a shortcut google it. Why don’t you do it the natural way and let the browser handle text? I hope you will answer my question.


Posted by Thomas Schaaf June 7, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    it could be right,,,i also dont like it

    Posted by dannydai June 10, 2009 at 2:02 am

W|A should become the [bold underline italic] reference tool for all digital knowledge. I hope so. Everyone using the same source for facts is an awesome idea! But the stress has to be on facts. Beware the outdated fanatical ideological forces that still hang around in the 21st century!

W|A is a bright star in the darkness. Shine on …

Posted by Colin Campbell June 7, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    … while resisting the [bold underline italic] new fanatical ideological forces of the 21st century. Like WikiData.

    Posted by Fred Klingener June 8, 2009 at 9:11 am

Great video(but short,only 8 min ??!!!),i liked those explanations and it`t great that we have the opportunity to meet people behinde WA.

Posted by Ionut Danet June 8, 2009 at 2:37 am

Excellent stuff guys. I’d love to see a more level playing field in the information search and retrieval industry.

Will do all I can to support you and your efforts.


Posted by Karl Craig-West June 8, 2009 at 3:28 am

would love to actually use it in the lab, but am still awaiting log in. any word on when this might be possible? best wishes.

Posted by tom stetter June 8, 2009 at 6:42 am

Not related to the thread that much …

Seems I found a way to crash the system:

Array of 0,1,2,3,7 is too hard a question for it …

Tried it 10 times at different hours and got the “I’m sorry Dave” message.


Posted by Henri Laupmaa June 8, 2009 at 8:18 am

I’ll paraphrase the pillars:

1. Data
2. Algorithms
3. Linguistics
4. Presentation

I’d like to see development of the mutual interaction between 3 and 4 to accelerate mutual learning by the user and W|A. I’ll cite one simple example. In my random experiments, W|A often presents pods with clickable options for assumptions (e.g. technology field) or output form (e.g. units.) The user should be able to preselect these options by inclusion of appropriate keywords in the query string. I keep wanting to reach for Option-> without having to sweat the precise details. The fact that it may take a couple of tries to find what works wouldn’t be an obstacle to a motivated user.

I’m not suggesting imposition of a superstructure onto what’s supposed to be natural language, but somehow particular needs of the user ought to be expressible and understandable.

It only takes three pillars to provide solid support for a structure, so minimizing one doesn’t detract from ultimate value. For example, if the user somehow can ask for a presentation that consists of a single number, maybe expressed in certain units, she ought to be able to get it.

Posted by Fred Klingener June 8, 2009 at 9:06 am

    I also will paraphrase::-

    W|A is a simulated scientist. Within 10 years It will know all reliable data
    including all reliable ways of combining that data.
    It will have the abiliity to understand any question posed by any human
    and will give the answer iin a way that that human can understand.

    Posted by Brian Gilbert June 8, 2009 at 5:25 pm

I Dont like this website and the guy (andrew at the top of the page he NOT she my bad) with the winky faces has a todally diffrent option then me but not to say he wrong or anythings but he is no offence. BUT THIS WEBSITE IS NOT KOOL. STOP GIVING BEST WISHES (tom at the bottum of the page) WELL NOW BACK TO GOOGLE CUZ THIS SUCKS!

Posted by Jaimie FREAKING PEED OFF Dackaroo June 8, 2009 at 9:35 am

    good one you your right this website is shit and didnt answer any of my questions

    Posted by james June 8, 2009 at 10:29 pm

luv it
gud luck

Posted by Naveed Ahmed June 8, 2009 at 10:15 am

Seriously. You really think you can harness all knowledge via the internet? Laughable.
By the way, your system turned up NOTHING for these simple queries:

How many dial up BBS systems are still online
How many americans kill their parents

That’s pretty sad.

You should give up, as knowledge and fact are not something you can pretend to capture entirely, and is subjective.

Posted by Phillip H. June 8, 2009 at 10:33 pm

[…] interviews with Wolfram|Alpha team members can be found in Part 1 and Part 2 of this video series. Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team delicious | digg | reddit | […]