# Get Your Questions Ready for Stephen Wolfram’s Live Webcast

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.

Please can we have latest definition of Wolfram Alpha?

Where does webmathematica 3 fit in?

Please put the video on this blog ASAP as it is far easier to access.

It is not clear why I was asking for a definition update. This may help:-

I think it is agreed that W|A is:-

– Computative

It is as far as limited areas are concerned but does not yet apply its algorithms outside the area with which they are commonly associated. I don’t think it would use a Mechanical Formula to answer an Electrical question.

– Engine. The hardware at present seems more than adequate but time allowed for answering a question is capped so we cannot be sure.

– Auditable by checking the sources it quotes, Very poor here. Sources are general whereas they should be specific such that a scientist can confirm the answer meets scientific standards.

an Immature Scientific Curated Computative Knowledge Engine. -‘curated’ in that the input data is supposed to be checked to scientific standards, See previous point.

– Immature in that it is expected to take ten years or so to incorporate the bulk of existing – knowledge. This is not made clear at present with the result that W|A is criticized unfairly. Wolfram Alpha seems to be trying to curate a large proportion of new data itself. This seems impractical for all the new data and impossible when keeping the data up to date is considered.

Is W|A an Immature Scientific Curated Computative Knowledge Engine?

Brian Gilbert points out (above) that data and knowledge curation by Wolfram|Alpha folks alone likely won’t scale.

On a smaller project, our approach is to support Wikipedia-like social mechanisms for cooperative knowledge and data input and refinement, in executable English (see http://www.reengineeringllc.com)

Would something like that perhaps be useful for Wolfram|Alpha?

If not, what other approaches might be considered?

Is the knowledge and data input interface to Wolfram|Alpha public on the Web?

What are you doing to get people to try Wolfram Alpha instead of continuing to use Google? How is that going (conversion rate). What do you tell people Wolfram Alpha is better at? How can it compete with Google when it has only limited knowledge and I don’t know what its limits are (so when to use it).

Wolfram Alpha is not a search engine. It does not return a list of links. It has a database containg curated data and algorithms So it can compute answers if it has the factors and algorithms needed in its database. To decide when to use it try all the tabs at the top of the community page and see what can be done and some idea how to present a question. If you are lucky the database will already cover the subjects you are interested in.

What do you think about providing source information for your data?

what do you think that the other languages will be available like French or Arabic for example?

I need it in Russian language.

Wery intresting thing!!!…………

Are the rumors about Wolphram|Alpha and Bing true? WIll you and Bing be merging, or are you simply giving them your results? If this is true, what will it mean for Wolphram|Alpha, and how many more users would you say that this would bring to Bing?

when will be available a version of Spanish wolfram?

Thanks

I would like to know if the showing steps feature in handling mathematics will be in the upcoming Mathematica 8? And will there be improved NLP tools in that update as well. Finally, will Home Edition users get full 64 bit support soon now that Snow Leopard is out? Thank you.

Two questions:

Will you consider exposing WolframAlpha computational functions as RESTful WebServices so that the functions can be invoked programmatically similar to what Google and Yahoo API provide.

Are there any plans to offer WolframAlpha as a mobile app?

Thank you for your attention,

Edmon Begoli

I want to know, regarding books and movies, will it be possible that a synopsis be added, this would really help because instead of deviating to other webistes or Wikipedia, to which I am not to fond of, and also that video games have not yet been added, are you working on adding them, because they are still knoledge and I think it merits to be in this site.

When are we going to see a version of Mathematica on the iPhone?

you don’t recognize kingston, new york… very very curious indeed.

Absent being an adjunct to a search engine (someone suggested Bing, which might be very very cool) I can’t use Alpha…

Given that you have the computational engine, I would expect to see oem interfaces that would utilize that… relating to energy use computations, insurance costs, investment strategies…

But, nope.

I see you can now handle questions of the form “how far”… that’s new. Of course, all and any mapping software does that in spades…

Something, someplace, should show me it’s useful. But that’s just me.

We have mathematica at the univ, and I have to say it is the best thing since the pocket calculator when it comes to assisting in math. I use both wolframalpha and mathematica sine I can’t find out how to make mathematica do things in steps like wolframalpha does.

Was a weather forecaster (USAF and CA) for 40 years. Time-permitting, we checked every possible data to make the best forecast. There is one data we couldn’t check but maybe we can today or soon with Wolfram/Alpha. And that is: given all current weather parameters (wind, pressure, visibility, temperature, humidity at the surface and aloft); when we had exact or near-exact parameters in the past, what was the synoptic situation and how did the weather behave in the following week? Will Wolfram/Alpha do this now or possibly in the future?

Dr. Wolfram,

Any plans for a Wiki? Also could you divulge any cool features we can expect to see in the future :)?

Loafers

Hello,

I have repeatedly contacted Wolfram Alpha to ask WHY it persists in using Wolfram Alpha as its corporate identit6y on the Web per se. I have never received an acknowledgement ior a reply. The published Web name (Wolfram Alpha) is mystifying for average persons, even though many if not most WA queries are the kinds of queries everyday users would make.

I offered even before Wolfram Alpha went live the domain names nqio.com, nqio.net and nquo.org to Wolfram, free of charge, so as to make the Wolfram information utility more accessible on the Web from the standpoint of intuition by using a name that intuitively tells end users what Worfram actually represents and does. Intelligence engine or similar mystifying identifiers simply doesn’t make sense for ordinary folks. I think Wolfram needs to get in touch with its front end users by making home page query access more intuitive for persons using other search engine key words. I can be reached at go2ao@aol.com.

Yeah, nqio just rolls off the tongue. In fact, my Dad and I were just talking about all the nqio activities that are happening around town. I can’t believe that WA isn’t taking you up on your offer and changing its URL. It’s their loss.

I love Mathematica, even so I find its speed to be problematic at times. Wolfram has attacked one part of the problem with the giga-numerics work of version 5; unfortunately I’m not much interested in large-scale linear algebra or FFTs.

It strikes me that there are a few obvious places where Mathematica could get faster. (The goal here is not to speed everything always, but to attack the low-lying fruit).

The first place would be the use of a JIT. Obviously the fact that Mathematica, with its rule-based engine, is not that much like traditional computer language, means this is not a trivial process. I would not expect that all Mathematica usage could be run through a JIT. Nonetheless there are many situations where one has created a block of code that is essentially doing the same thing over and over, applying the same rules over and over, which would seem to be amenable to JIT’ing.

What I envision is something like, whenever the handling of an expression begins, Mathematica spawns a second thread which attempts to JIT the code (subject, certainly initially, to being willing to give up whenever anything difficult is encountered). If the JIT compilation finishes before the standard evaluator, we kill the standard evaluator and hand over to the JIT.

In the old days this would have seemed problematic, a frequent waste of CPU. But nowadays there are surely very few serious Mathematica users with only one CPU, so if the other is standing idle, use it!

My second suggestion would be much more aggressive use of extra CPUs in the various little way’s they can be used — for example when plotting or numerically integration, one evaluates the same function repeatedly — why not run the evaluations in parallel?

Now of course this is not completely trivial because you always have the joker defining a function with side effects

f[x_]:=(global++; x^2)

but this is where we use the same sort of ideas as in the JIT technology — a quick preprocess of the function to see if it looks safe. If it has side effects, it runs slow; if it has no side-effect it runs in parallel.

A similar sort of idea would be to use such ideas as exist in parallelizing the search of multi-dimensional spaces. Those aspects of Mathematica that are basically searches — integration, DSolve, Simplify — it seems there should be some sort of natural joints where you could cut the search up into distinct pieces and run them on distinct CPUs. We’re not looking for perfection — the ability to handle arbitrarily many CPUs or load balancing — just say an overall 50% or so speedup of Mathematica on a dual CPU machines, maybe a 2.5x speedup on average on a four core machine.

I would like to see a formal system or a way to call a formal system if the interpreter fails. I look for my name, looking for towns, and castles in England that I know are there but instead W/A breaks the name into two irrelevant words

Is there a technical / logical relationship between Wolfram Alpha and NKS at the backend? If so, where can I learn more?

Any possibility of connecting to other public data sources? Example Unigene, Ensembl.

Extending that further, what about Private data sets for use by a company internally? Will WA ever be made into a tool that can access a company’s internal data and mash it up with what is available within WA?

Do you have any Wolfram Alpha t-shirts available? XL please, thank you.

When will be available a Spanish Wolfram version?

Congratulations for your great job.

Thanks

Dear Sir/ What^s Your vision of We-3 Semantics prob? Including Your own vision, Tim^s. german approach of Knowledge based systems

Is there still a plan to make a version of Mathematica available to anyone interested in exploring the ideas discussed in A New Kind of Science?

What are you doing to get people to try Wolfram Alpha instead of continuing to use Google? How is that going (conversion rate). What do you tell people Wolfram Alpha is better at? How can it compete with Google when it has only limited knowledge and I don’t know what its limits are (so when to use it).

In your opinion, what is the difference between the traditional science based on mathematics and the new kind of science described in your book, which name is A New Kind of Science?

When you do the research of a long time (nearly 20 years) in your book, is there any help to your research with the knowledge of mathematics? And for what?

Thank you very much!

Dear Stephen,

1. How does one learn cellular automata?

2. How do you think your ideas in NKS would approach explaining phenomenal consciousness? AKA, how could they explain why a physical object (me or you) experiences a “redness of red”?

What do you think of autistic perception being correspondent to the foundational components of formal logic?… Sorry , it may seem I’m a little bit out of topic. But I can’t miss this opportunity.

When will wolfram in Spanish, and work the same way?

thanks for answering this question

A very simple query I’ve,

Can you give us some insight on development tools, laguages you’ve used with W|A? And how do you relate W|A with open source community? Open source means a lot in our place.

Ganesh

WA needs to be open source, so more users

can add new algorithm in their database

and it must be approved before it go live

for all users. And also users can save their

computation search and can be reused

by others. Saves time to rewrite the same thing.

I created a site called http://www.myshortcut.net

it saves users time typing same thing daily,

instead u can do that in one click. Makes u faster

when u r online.

Why do W|A query terms like ‘fermion’, ‘meson’, ‘lepton’, get ‘Computation timed out’?

What is the progress he and others have made following NKOS?

What does he think of mathematically modeling physics as n-dimensional CA’s?

Does Wolfram|Alpha curate information from books and scientific journals? What relation could it have to the large digitization efforts currently underway worldwide.

P.S. Google books is a significant achievement left out of the timeline provided in W|A>About>History & Background website.

‘Wolfram Alpha is not a search engine. It does not return a list of links. It has a database containg curated data and algorithms So it can compute answers if it has the factors and algorithms needed in its database.’

Answers. what answers can we get besides mathematical problems? Say, I need to know what mobile should I buy? or Should I upgrade to Windows 7? Wolfram Alpha will be of no use to ordinary guys like us!

You ask for example ‘What mobile should you buy’. If you have no criteria then any mobile will do. If say you want the cheapest and W|A has curated all the price data for mobiles then you can ask it which mobile is the cheapest and it will tell you. Stanley Wolfram has said W|A is under development so I think it will be some time before mobile phone prices are curated. You might want to know whether it is worth bothering with a mobile phone in your country. Already you an input ‘mobile phone’ and it will tell you how many there are in each country.

I have the following questions for Stephen’s live webcast:

1. What are your thoughts on “the Singularity” (a la Vernor Vinge, Ray Kurzweil, etc.)? Does it make sense, and if so, when do you think it will happen, and how will it change the world? Are you/Wolfram Research working on creating “real/strong AI”/AGI? Do you think Aubrey de Grey’s vision of greatly extended (and possibly indefinite) lifespans is realistic and achievable?

2. How do you think socio-political events and philosophical-cultural trends impact scientific progress (e.g. classical Greece vs the Dark Ages vs the Renaissance)?

3. Does your current “model of the universe” have an “arrow of time”? What do you think of the possibility of time travel? Have any surprising new results/physical laws emerged from your experimentation with “universe models”?

4. Mathematica is uniquely powerful general technical computing software. It can do what Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. can do—all in a single “Swiss knife” application. But to replicate the functionality of dedicated, specialized applications inside Mathematica requires high-level proficiency with Mathematica and a non-trivial amount of programming. What is needed is the convenience of user-friendly graphical interfaces (“palettes” of ready-made functions), so if I want to use Mathematica as a spreadsheet, I simply pull up the “spreadsheet interface and palette”, if I want to do image transformations, I simply pull up the “Photoshop palette”, etc. from the Mathematica menu. Then there would be no need to buy MS Office or Adobe CS, one could just buy Mathematica and do virtually everything inside the far more powerful, flexible, general (and reliable!) Mathematica environment—and do so in an integrated fashion that would open up new vistas of creative possibility. Any plans for Wolfram Research to create such functional interfaces/palettes/environments to replicate (and go beyond) the functionality of MS Office, Adobe CS, etc.?

for the friend of friendly graphical interfaces (”palettes” of ready-made functions)

Our RBMCalculator is a versatile multi-dimensional business modeling creation tool showing up in a Java graphical user interface utilizing the Mathematica kernel in what we call a kernel only mode (KOM). You simply start by and Icon and you hardly see Mathematica at all. As our target market is in business. Business users don’t like the word, which goes with mathematics, too much.

The application allows building business models from scratch in various ways by a drag-and-drop process. Button palettes with sophisticated state-of-the-art underlying predefined functions and rules are applied to a table selected or to various tables at once, providing you with the complete multidimensional mapping of costs, or whatever is on your mind. We’re using the principles of multi-dimensional advanced activity based costing, but by no means is this an activity based costing tool only. It’s rather very versatile and can be used and adapted to any conceptual thinking replacing for example Excel-based limited operation. Scalability is just depending on the available RAMs of your system.

It immediately provides you the opportunity to turn labels becoming a variable and modeling by using the variables generating symbolic expressions, which are typically linear equations, and one can see immediately how costs, profits and revenues depending on those chosen variables. All those values can be changed by a click and depicting the original value as a default. All of this can be deployed by simply using Mathematica PlayerPro, of course you can use full-fledged Mathematica version too.

http://xeesm.com/HansGerlachWoudboer/

If I have an application that I want developed ,using Wolfram/Alpha as an SDK ,is it possible for your team to help?

Can you please fix your data about the UK, Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland etc. as it is plain wrong.

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=map+of+england is completely and utterly wrong. It is actually a map of the United Kingdom. As a Scot, I am insulted by this result.

Do u guys have the power of searching like google or Bing … or even better …. Any new concepts have been applied yet ? So far , how many member do u guys have ? Accept outsider join or just skillful progammer ??

Anyone can join the forum.

When you have joined sign in. You will see a panel ‘Search the community’ with ‘members’ in its bottom righthand corner’ Click on that and you will see a list of members and at the bottom of the page, the current total number of members.

No W|A does not search except among its own curated/checked data.

Look at the tabs at the top of the community page. Try them all and you will find the answers to most of your questions about W|A. Other questions can be asked on the forum.

Is it possible to have some results such as figures or solutions into the Fortran. Ie can I merge the fortran and the Mathematica? if yes. How??

Hi,

It seems to me that the natural language processing capability of the system is the most significant factor that is inhibiting the widespread use of wolfram alpha by ordinary people rather than more technically oriented people who are willing to learn how to syntactically structure their questions in order to allow wolfram alpha to understand what they are asking for.

Do you have any idea or range of estimates when you may be able to handle certain percentages of natural language queries without significant constraints on syntax?

It seems to me that a response like “I don’t have the required knowledge to answer your question” is easier to swallow than “I don’t understand your question”.

Thanks,

Adrian

Hi Adrian Wilford —

You wrote about the current limitations of the natural language aspect of W|A.

The executable English system online at http://www.reengineeringllc.com has an unusual approach to input and questioning, both in natural language. (Shared use of the system is free.) The vocabulary is open, and so a large extent is the syntax. The approach may be of interest to you, and perhaps also to the W|A folks.

— Adrian Walker

i was interested in asking your opinion about the proects being carried out by Sir TIm Berner Lee’s (Linked Data) and Wendy Hall (Web of Data), and do you have in mind making Wolfram Alpha compatible with such enormous initiatives.

will Wolfram Alpha be able to extract content from web sites and compute it to an readable and understandable answer of an question asked. “It has a database containg curated data and algorithms So it can compute answers if it has the factors and algorithms needed in its database.” , Ranjan Mitra remarks will put this marvel in a very limited mathematical based scientific corner.

to simplify my question: Can it think in future????

What are your market goals for WA? In 5 years, how do you hope the general public perceives WA to be relevant to them? Given that, what’s your plan to get there?

Please describe the W|A strategy and timeline for embracing the Semantic Web. Specifically, how will W|A become a SAA (Semantically Aware Application), generating and consuming semantic data published in W3C standard RDF triple-stores and RDFS or OWL ontology formats.

necesito informacion sobre irradiancia solar diaria en ciertas zonas, de este año, gracias

Hi…i just wanna ask are you gonna make a spanish version of this pretty thing (im meaninb wolframalpha) ?

Thanks

I know there are volunteer curator opportunities, but are you taking offers for volunteer testing yet? If not, any idea when that might happen?

Which current mathematicians and/or scientist do you find to be the most thought provoking or influential?

As this webcast will be awaited in many countries and people will not be sure of the time in their country I suggest you display a countdown time.

Can we get a sneak peek or vague description of any new marvels being marvels for Mathematica 8?

What is the purpose of the Alpha API for Mathematica and when will it be made available?

What kind of work is being done on improving Wolfram|Alpha’s natural language input? Often times I’ll enter something when I’m trying to do some math or figure out some distance or something, and W|A just doesn’t understand it and I have to try to break it down into parts and try to get an answer. Other times I get just what I expected. I was just wondering what kinds of areas are being worked on to improve that aspect, and also, another little question, how has the usage and load been on W|A and what are some of the most common kinds of things people input?

Thanks!

Do you have plans for better exposing the sources and lineage of the information you provide? Several people have asked similar questions over time, and I guess I’m still waiting for a satisfying answer.

If the answer remains “no” or “not really”, could you talk about why not? W|A is so interesting and exciting, and at the same time you serve me up information with no context that I’m just supposed to accept as correct. To me, that renders W|A fairly unusable for purposes outside of numeric computation. Wikipedia gives me the population of New York City with information about who took the measurement and when. W|A just gives me a number, which is completely meaningless without that metadata.

Thank you.

I have had similar concerns. Thanks for bringing it up Sharon

Stephen:

Are there any specific efforts to ‘brand’ or ‘position’ the ‘computable knowledge’ from W|A as important to government, business and NGO’s as humankind wrestles with daunting challenges in human services, the economy and the environment? In an era of ‘the intern found the answer on Google,’ is the discussion of the road forward for W|A increasingly a discussion of how the broader human community re-learns the ability for a rigorous synthesis of curated data to achieve insights and understanding?

Is there some portion of this perspective behind the current and future plans/realization of W|A? If so, how can the community of those who value W|A best support helping the press and the lay community in seeing crisp differentiation between the ‘fabulous monetized search of Google and Bing’ versus the rather different possibilities achievable from W|A?

Or do I misunderstand the mission here?

Kindest regards,

John

What is being done to accept queries that link information across domains? How come I still can’t take one result of a query and apply it to a different query such as (Birth date of (Oldest US president (US president born in New York))). I though that was the whole point of Wolfram Alpha (nesting).

Can you discuss some of the under the hood features of Wolfram Alpha that relate to the implimentation of NKS? What role do cellular automata play in its implimentation if any? Thanks.

Hi Stephen,

In the world where Goolge is criticized for omitting some search results in China to amuse Chinese government, how is WolframAlpha planning to avoid this as W|A displays only curated data. Choosing specific sources only for acquiring data could be a big problem in the future, as you grow. How are you planning to tackle this ? How can you explain that W|A is fair to all resources? Thank you.

Do the cells in NKS always exist as entities in a specific location and time? I’m interested in what makes up space and time (presumably abstract elements which do not themselves exist in a particular time or space, such as “5” or the concept of a ratio). I don’t see how cellular automata could help in that pursuit if the cells are described in terms of what might be called “pre-existing” space and time, but perhaps I’m simply underestimating the generality of NKS concepts (I have not yet read the full book).

Will be we seeing a wolframalpha, which does not only parse expressions and compute them but actually use the data we get from the output to compute something else? In an algorithmic way i mean

What about launching a web site of this size would you say surprised you the most now that Alpha has been online for some time?

Will WolframAlpha go ambient, i.e be incorporated in Gadgets and forage for data that way? Using pc to feed in data like temperature, earthquake shakes etc.?

Are you into W. Brian Arthur’s “Nature of Technology” as technology being evolutionary, path-dependent, but very different from biological nature?

Yes!!!, p-forms, exterior derivative d, Hodge star*, Wedge product ^, maps, Interior product and Lie derivative is

a part of System of Physical Quantities.

I developed a program for automatic solution of physical problems.

Now the squeak includes know-how of the system of physical quantities.

With proper software architecture, this approach can be used

to address the institute and in the perspective of engineering research

tasks.

Me it would be desirable through the electronic mail to discuss the results of my work with you or your assistant. So I count that these results they could be useful for http://www.wolframalpha.com/

ignat

+7-817-221-09-46

taking inverse laplace transform of a function having complex poles, mathematica gives the answer as complex form. how can i transform that in trigonometric form? for example, inverse laplace transform of (25 s + 75)/(s^2 + 6 s + 13) gives the answer 25/2 E^((-3 – 2 I) t) (1 + E^(4 I t)). i need to know how to convert that complex form into trigometric form in mathematica.

thanks in advance.

Is it possible to solve chemical reaction in this web page?

Is it possible to calculate how many apples you can put in one bucket of 10 liters?

Nice to meet you Wolfram in Seoul. and your signature on my post at World Knowledge Forum.

i would like to know the stock market of milling wheat price ,is it posible to lead me?