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Stephen Wolfram

Announcing Wolfram|Alpha Pro

February 8, 2012 —
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Today I’m excited to be able to announce the launch of Wolfram|Alpha Pro—the biggest single step in the development of Wolfram|Alpha since its original introduction.

Wolfram|Alpha Pro

Over the two and a half years since we first launched, Wolfram|Alpha has been growing rapidly in content and capabilities. But today’s introduction of Wolfram|Alpha Pro in effect adds a whole new model for interacting with Wolfram|Alpha—and brings all sorts of fundamentally new and remarkable capabilities.

Starting today, everyone has access to Wolfram|Alpha Pro at Unlike the “tourist” version of Wolfram|Alpha, though, you have to log in, and, yes, to get full capabilities there’s a subscription ($4.99/month, or $2.99/month for students). (Right now, you can try it for free with a trial subscription.)

So, what does Wolfram|Alpha Pro do?

Wolfram|Alpha Pro features

There are some big things here. But at the level of the Wolfram|Alpha interface, they’re just summarized by little icons.

Let’s talk first about output. Once you’ve logged in, you have access to your history, and you can define favorites. You can also set preferences, like what location Wolfram|Alpha should assume, or what unit system you want to use. And you can do things like change the overall size of Wolfram|Alpha output.

As soon as you mouse over a Wolfram|Alpha output pod, you’ll immediately see:

Wolfram|Alpha Pro output options

Zoom (or, actually, clicking almost anywhere in the pod) does something very simple, but useful: it gives you an enlarged version of the pod, so you can for example see all the details of elaborate plots.

CustomizeCustomize does something a lot of people have asked for: lets you customize output from Wolfram|Alpha, and get it in various formats—so you can put it directly into your presentation, or whatever.

Another much-requested capability, accessed with Data download, is being able to download the raw data behind a Wolfram|Alpha output—say as a spreadsheet or the like.

Data download

(Needless to say, spreadsheets can’t faithfully represent the full breadth of data, units, etc. that Wolfram|Alpha generates, so Wolfram|Alpha Pro uses tricks like having separate sheets for “Raw Data” and “Formatted Data”.)

When one says “downloading data”, one might think just of data behind tables and plots. But Wolfram|Alpha Pro can download all sorts of other data too: 3D geometry data (say to use for a modeling program or a 3D printer), sound data, graph connectivity data, molecular specification data, etc.—in altogether more than 60 formats.

In addition to handling material in individual pods, Wolfram|Alpha also lets you download a complete output page as PDF—or CDF.

CDF (Computable Document Format) is the format that we introduced last year to let people create documents containing computations. It’s already gaining a lot of momentum in areas like textbooks and interactive reports. But now CDF is also part of Wolfram|Alpha Pro.

In all sorts of output pods, there’ll be a button labeled “Enable interactivity”. Click it and the pod will turn into CDF, that you can immediately interact with.

At a basic level, you’ll be able to resize any graphic, and rotate 3D graphics. But many kinds of graphics and other outputs will also sprout controls that let you directly modify and interact with them. (Often there’s a “More controls” section that opens out to give lots of additional controls.) And because CDF computation is done locally on your computer, the interaction is typically very zippy.

Sin(x y)

An interesting feature of CDF in Wolfram|Alpha Pro is that it effectively lets you create interactive programs directly from free-form linguistic input. You can tell Wolfram|Alpha to animate with respect to some variable, or somesuch, and it’ll generate a CDF that does that.

So there are all sorts of new things associated with output in Wolfram|Alpha Pro. But what about input?

Right below the main input box there’s a row of icons. Each of them brings out a “tray” for some special kind of input.

Icons in the tray

Keyboard gives a special character keyboard, modeled after the soft keyboards that exist in Wolfram|Alpha mobile apps.

Wolfram|Alpha Pro keyboard

The other icons all relate to a big idea of Wolfram|Alpha Pro. With ordinary Wolfram|Alpha and its free-form linguistics, we’ve really opened up the kind of textual input that you expect a computer to be able to handle. But a big idea of Wolfram|Alpha is to go still further, and to allow input that isn’t text at all.

Image lets you give an image as input.

Image input

Once you’ve got the image in, it’ll be indicated by a little yellow box in the Wolfram|Alpha input field. And if you just hit Enter, Wolfram|Alpha Pro will do an automatic analysis of your image.


There’s some general analysis that always gets done, but a lot of the analysis depends on your image. If there’s text in the image, it’ll get OCR’d. If there are separate components, they’ll be identified. And so on.

But in addition to purely automatic analysis, you can tell Wolfram|Alpha Pro what to do with your image, just using standard free-form linguistics. In a sense, Wolfram|Alpha Pro is a direct beneficiary of the very powerful image handling capabilities that were added in recent versions of Mathematica. But the end result is that it’s able to do a very large range of image processing and image analysis—both “Photoshop-style”, and of a type usually seen only in specialized, expensive, image processing systems.

Particularly powerful is combining image upload with CDF—and getting interactive interfaces for image processing.

QuinSconce.png gradient filter with radius x

So what about other kinds of files? Well, Wolfram|Alpha Pro can handle about 60 types.

File types supported by Wolfram|Alpha Pro

In each case, it can do general automatic analysis of what’s in the file. And you can specifically tell it what you want to do. For different types of files, the results are very different. Like here’s the result of uploading a sound file:


And here’s a general analysis of a pure binary file:


What about files that contain data? Here’s where it gets even more exciting. And actually the data doesn’t need to be laid out in a spreadsheet or CSV or whatever. Data input lets you just copy a block of data from anywhere, and feed it to Wolfram|Alpha Pro.

To many people who’ve seen preliminary versions of Wolfram|Alpha Pro, this is then the part that’s most surprising and remarkable: Wolfram|Alpha Pro will automatically analyze the data, and generate a report about it.


The report is completely tailored to the particular data you give—and it can look very different for different kinds of data. Usually, though, it’ll contain some mixture of visualizations and analyses. It’ll have all kinds of charts and graphs and tables—often together with explicit conclusions generated by statistical and other methods.


And of course, it’s not just a static report. There are always all sorts of buttons and pull-downs that allow you to drill down, select different options, and so on. But the notion is that when you upload your data to Wolfram|Alpha Pro, it’ll immediately be able to tell you interesting things about it.

Different types of graphs generated with Wolfram|Alpha Pro

I’ll write more about this elsewhere, but in a sense the concept is to imagine what a good data scientist would do if confronted with your data, then just immediately and automatically do that—and show you the results.

We’re certainly not finished with everything that’s possible, but already in the version of Wolfram|Alpha Pro that we’re releasing today, I think what we can do with data is pretty impressive. Of course, it helps that we can build on all the sophisticated data and statistics-related capabilities that are now built in to Mathematica. And it also helps that we can make use of all the other parts of Wolfram|Alpha.

For example, if you read in data with dates, or units, or place names, or whatever, Wolfram|Alpha Pro is able to call on Wolfram|Alpha’s linguistic capabilities to understand whatever forms were entered. And when it comes to output, Wolfram|Alpha Pro can freely use the built-in knowledge in Wolfram|Alpha. So, for example, it can immediately place on a map cities or countries or whatever given in the data. But what is more, it can use its built-in knowledge to let you do things like automatically normalizing by population.


As everywhere in Wolfram|Alpha, we’re aiming for very broad and deep coverage. We want to implement every method and algorithm that’s relevant to analyzing data, and then we want to apply these automatically whenever and wherever they make sense. Already we’ve got lots of data handling and visualization, lots of standard and not-so-standard statistical methods, and lots of new methods, many original to Wolfram|Alpha Pro.

Taken with the other capabilities of Wolfram|Alpha Pro, it’s all a pretty major extension of ordinary Wolfram|Alpha—supporting a whole new model of using Wolfram|Alpha. In a sense the new capabilities emphasize more than ever the computational nature of Wolfram|Alpha: the ability to do complete, fresh, computations for every query.

We’ve been able to go a remarkably long way with the basic paradigm of ordinary Wolfram|Alpha. But now Wolfram|Alpha Pro dramatically extends this paradigm—and it’s going to be exciting to see all the new things that become conceivable. But for now, I hope that as many people as possible will use Wolfram|Alpha Pro, and will take advantage of the largest single step in the development of Wolfram|Alpha since it was first launched.


I’ve been waiting for this announcement since I read the news buzzing around the internet.

Thank you, Stephen and the Wolfram|Alpha/Mathematica team for everything. Really. Wolfram|Alpha is one of my most visited sites, and for good reason. It makes me and millions of others smarter, bit by bit.

Posted by Jon February 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    ^ every word is true. Thanks Stephen and Wolfram|Alpha Team!

    Posted by Ibrahim February 9, 2012 at 5:09 am

The future is past now.

Posted by JiminP February 8, 2012 at 11:23 pm

I’m a big fan of Wolfram Alpha and many of the students I have introduced to it have said it is the best website ever. Seriously.

That said, I find this announcement underwhelming – a few extra options at $60/year? I must be missing something.

Posted by Chris February 8, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Oh My God.
This is so AWESOME!
Just saw the facebook posting and just by the looks of it, this is really great work!

Posted by CH February 8, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Take my money!

Posted by somestuff February 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm


Thanks so much for updating the site! As a student of chemistry and physics, Wolfram really helps me out. Although the pro announcement came to me through a Safari refresh, this will be a huge help for my research.

Thanks Steven and Theodore!

Posted by Eric February 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm


Posted by Bob Spock February 8, 2012 at 11:47 pm

I have been refreshing the blog all day. I am glad this is the price it is, because I would probably have paid a lot more.

Posted by s February 8, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Hey, that’s Bathsheba Grossman’s sconce. You could at least credit her.

Posted by Sean Palmer February 9, 2012 at 12:13 am

Will purchasing a copy of Mathematica give you a Wolfram Alpha Pro license too? Specifically those with Mathematica for Students: Annual Edition.

Beyond that, these are all excellent upgrades. I’m continually impressed with what you’re doing. Keep it coming!

Posted by Uriah February 9, 2012 at 12:54 am

    A Wolfram|Alpha Pro license does not come with a version of Mathematica.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team February 10, 2012 at 11:37 am

      This is disappointing. I have been using Wolfram Alpha along side Mathematica, and have already paid for the app on my iPhone. I’m not willing to pay for the full license. the app, and $60 a year to access the same information easily on other computers or my iPhone.

      Posted by Sarah February 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

Congratulations o the Wolfram|Alpha and Mathematica teams. This will undoubtedly go down in history as a major event in knowledge democratization. An incredible amount of computation power and data interpretation for $5. That’s huge.

Posted by Mark Bao February 9, 2012 at 1:03 am

This sucks. A lot.

Stephen, you had the chance to build the next Google. A product that could combine search and knowledge, but you chose to make a shareware product. That’s stupid.

Don’t believe me? Think back to the period of 1995-2005, the era of shareware Windows programs. How many of these monetized successfully? Very, very few.

It is unfortunate that you’ve decided to take that path.

Posted by Guest February 9, 2012 at 1:16 am

WolframAlpha is an excellent resource that I’ve used countless times in the past. I’m looking forward to supporting your future endeavors.

Posted by flam February 9, 2012 at 2:11 am

Will you have an API? I would love to get song waveform programmatically!

Posted by Reed February 9, 2012 at 2:29 am

    You can learn more about our current API here:
    We are looking into support for Wolfram|Alpha Pro features in our API offerings.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team February 9, 2012 at 11:58 am

      Now that you get income from the subscriptions you could consider putting the mobile apps for free. After all, they are just a small wrapper of the web service.
      By the way, I won’t subscribe to the Pro service at least until you port the CDF player to Linux.

      Posted by Lazza February 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm

This is some really exciting stuff. I particularly like the file upload features, that could be very, very interesting when combined with the rest of the Wolfram Alpha power!

Posted by Rich Jones February 9, 2012 at 3:00 am

Wow, this is quite impressive indeed! Bravo for all your ongoing hard work!

But, will you provide some of these features for the API? I can already see uses for the image interpretation in my Windows Phone 7 client app! It seems that the release of WolframAlpha Pro coincided with the update of the API to v2.5, so do we already have the ability to use some of these advanced tools, or was it just time for an update?

Posted by Tom February 9, 2012 at 3:14 am

    We are looking into support for Wolfram|Alpha Pro features in our Wolfram|Alpha mobile apps as well as our API offerings.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team February 9, 2012 at 11:10 am

Amazing. I can’t wait to get playing with this.

Posted by Pete February 9, 2012 at 4:01 am

This is great news! I especially like the data visualization functionality.

Posted by Micha? Wendrowski February 9, 2012 at 5:00 am

I have two questions: Will the student discount also be available for non-US students?
And secound: Will the Pro features (or at least some) be available on the Mobile Apps?

Apart from that, I thank the team, too. Wolfram|Alpha is one of if not the best site on the internet.

Posted by Hans February 9, 2012 at 5:21 am

    The student discount will be available to non-US students. We are working on making Pro accessible via mobile devices.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team February 10, 2012 at 11:31 am

I’ll assume this is my birthday present so thanks!!!

Posted by Nathan February 9, 2012 at 8:53 am

I love this update, but we Linux users really need a port of the CDF player to truly use this. Still, I’m sure you will be able to do it (you ported Mathematica with no problem), so I really do hope you can get it soon.

Posted by David February 9, 2012 at 9:14 am

I spoke with Eric Weisstein at the APS March Meeting in 2011 and his enthusiasm for Wolfram Alpha was already well justified, as was mine. I recall mentioning how much more Wolfram Alpha could grow, and I see that he and all those working at Wolfram Research have truly done amazing work to make this massive increase of usability, interface elegance and sheer computational power.

I advocated for the symbolic keyboard implementation and I’m very happy to see its first incarnation! I personally think another fascinating implementation would be to include text boxes as possible input areas for certain functions like definite integrals or e^x and so on.

Also, integration of fully-functional LaTeX input/output for use would is likely another much desirable feature I’m certain will be added in the future.

I’m truly blown away by this announcement and will likely be a paying subscriber very soon.

Wolfram Alpha’s continual evolution is amazing, but it might almost be better identified as ‘Mathematica Online’! Keep innovating!

Posted by Daniel Fischer February 9, 2012 at 10:48 am

Are the pro features available through REST API?

Posted by Stas February 9, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I’d really like to know this too.

    Posted by Andy McSherry December 2, 2012 at 8:20 am

What a terrific achievement! Great post Stephen!!!

Posted by Mike February 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    +1. They used to have all the pro features for free on W|A, now we have to pay for all these features. They better integrate Pro on Mathematica (for students) or no one would think about them the same way they did before.

    Posted by Carl February 10, 2012 at 8:52 am

      @ Carl: No, those “pro”-enhancement’s were not available until now (except the CDF-Player; and yes: it dissapointes me, that you have to pay for it now!)

      But in general I really hoped, that W|A would stay free so I feel like you :/

      Posted by Mabie February 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I thought Wolfram|Alpha should stay free for everyone?
Now what must I read?
“Wolfram|Alpha Pro: Wolfram|Alpha as it’s ment to be”
I’m afraid that the average user, that dreams of free knowledge for everyone, wont have the same quality of output like a W|A-Pro user :/

Posted by Mabie February 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm

+1 to the comments calling for LaTeX output, free subscriptions with a Mathematica license, and free mobile apps.

Any chance for a “license” agreement where an entire department could get subscriptions for a cut rate?

Posted by Robert Talbert February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    There’s a link on the page for bulk purchasing for businesses/institutions/etc.

    Posted by Uriah February 10, 2012 at 6:44 am

    You can contact us for more information on a custom license agreements by going to this page:

    You’ll find the links next to the “Go to my account” button.

    Thank you!

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team February 10, 2012 at 11:36 am

What does WolframAlpha do with data I upload? Does it go into the main database or is it only available to my account?

Posted by Justin February 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Your data is securely stored on our servers and accessible to you in your query history to analyze and compute with it. It is not a part of the main database.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team February 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm

What is so amazing about this service?
Why would I use it regularly instead of for e.g. Google or DuckDuckGo?

I know it’s fundamentally different, but I’m not sure that matters for me.
How do I determine if it does matter…

Hopefully I’m emailed if/when there’s a response.
As I won’t be coming back to this page to scan for responses.


Posted by Jed February 10, 2012 at 5:02 am

How to save the page without Wolfram|PRO ?

Posted by Leonardo February 10, 2012 at 10:22 am

Too bad for wolfram – it WAS a nice free tool but now it becomes a useless paid utility.

Posted by Sad story February 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm

This was it, you made the best program there is and you ruined it? I cant copy math text even, because that require a pro account… Why make something good then block it just for people to buy it. I dont care if i can make an account and it will work then because i dont want to fill my email anymore of more useless accounts…

I will not recomend this anymore to my fellow students…

Posted by bigggan February 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    I think the comment that you “can’t copy math text” is inaccurate. I attempted to do so and was prompted to create a FREE account. After creating the free (non-pro) account, I was able to copy math.

    Posted by Mark McClure February 13, 2012 at 7:33 am

      So what? You shouldn’t have to register AT ALL to be able to copy and paste text (what is the point?).

      Posted by Tud March 1, 2012 at 3:33 am

I’m somewhat dissapointed with the idea of having to pay to get more functionality out of Wolfram|Alpha, but at least it’s relatively cheap.

It would be nice to get lifetime Wolfram|Alpha PRO if you purchased a copy of Mathematica license as several people have mentioned before.

Posted by BlockJuice February 10, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Sad Story: I wont say it is useless, because you can still do all the cool things. But I agree with bigggan: it is something good and now it is blocked just for people that buy it. It’s ok to want money for apps and stuff, but W|A was said to be free for everyone! And it should stay it!

Posted by Mabie February 10, 2012 at 10:27 pm

A PRO version ? Why not. It’s a good idea for support WolframAlpha (though I wonder if the incomes of Mathematica are not sufficient).

But WHY do you remove some basics options from the free version? Such as export data as a simple image (the same as before), or the PDF export? Or the zoom?

And the incomes of WolframAlphaPRO are not sufficient? Do you really need to add external ads?

I don’t understand this policy. WA is an excellent tool, but you ruined it.

Out of subject PS: I hope the favorites and history are synced with the main WolframAlpha app…

Posted by Bubbendorf February 11, 2012 at 11:03 am

All the new stuff is an annoying glimpse of what one gets if he pays.

Posted by Petru February 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm

It would be nice if you guys supported the Linux operating system. There doesn’t seem to be a Wolfram CDF Player for Linux. If you can support Mac (which is BSD, a unix-like operating system) then you should have no problem supporting Linux.

Posted by David Chapman February 11, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Shame that introducing the Pro version didn’t just bring new features to those who pay for them but also took away basic options from the free user.

Fairly simple tasks occasionally time out and previously one could then click the try again with more time. This is now only available for pro users!

Posted by Anon February 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm

You’ve made this totally useless. The free version isn’t good enough, and the paid version is stupid to pay for, especially if you already have Mathematica access. I honestly don’t understand any praise for this.

Posted by et February 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm

“Experience the next big step in computational knowledge” … advertisements!


Posted by Chris February 12, 2012 at 9:06 pm

So will Wolfram|Alpha PRO become free for Mathematica users? What about the use of Wolfram|Alpha inside Mathematica, will it change?

Posted by Anon February 13, 2012 at 10:56 am

Will Wolfram|Alpha PRO become free for Mathematica users? What about the use of Wolfram|Alpha PRO inside Mathematica?

Posted by Anon February 13, 2012 at 10:57 am

    I’d like to know this too actually.

    Posted by Guest February 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Seems like I am the only that is excited for this. Going to start the pro trial now, then at least I can make a proper judgement on whether or not it will be worth the price. By looking at the screenshots, it does look decent though.

Posted by Pam February 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm

@ Pam: No, you are not. Most of the people here are thinking that pro is the money worth. Well: If they think so…

Posted by Mabie February 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Wolfram has just gone downhill. Paying for features that were previously available for free? Please. And some of those features don’t do much good anyways, they were just restricted to make free users feel like they are barred from a greater experience until buying. Terrible. I hope Wolfram|Pro goes down in flames. Free computations are a million times better than capitalist attempts at making profit.

Love Long and Prosper

Posted by Guest February 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm

As a second year physics and math student I use your site quite a bit.

Often, the computation times out and I have to click “try again with more time”.

Now that that option is paid, you’ve basically made the free version of your site useless to me.

Only a few days ago I bought your app for my iPhone, and I wish I hadn’t. I wouldn’t have if I knew you were going to pull this bull sh$#.

You guys went from making the world’s knowledge computable, to a sh@@ty shareware site that harasses you for money every 5 minutes.

Congrats Stephen Wolfram, you jumped the shark on this one!

Posted by Frustrated February 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Exactly! The whole point of Wolfram|Alpha is to perform computations that take a long time. The only integrals that finish in time for me now are the easy ones that I would have been able to do myself anyway.

    For antiderivatives there’s still but plugging in limits is a pain.

    Posted by ConnorBehan February 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm

looks awesome. Congrats on the new product. Great first step into making sense of the future flooded by data from all directions.

Posted by buzzintech February 15, 2012 at 10:42 am

charging people for information is like charging them for the right to breathe

Posted by _ February 15, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    They are charging for information? No. They are charging for a service. If you want information without the service, go to the damn library and study.

    Posted by Silver February 22, 2012 at 1:43 am

      Yeah, they are charging for a service that was free before! And of which they said, that if will stay free (so they lied)!
      The first thing that I thought, as I saw this blog was: “Oh no! Not you, Wolfram! Not you!”…

      Posted by Mabie February 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm

        I agree with Mabie, it seems to me that the strategy was / first attract people for free WA and then charge them…can you imagine if wikipedia decide to charge for it too. It would be huge profit but it wouldnt be between top 10 sites. WA had potential to become one of the most visited site, say in first top 100 webpages and they could have huge profit for advertisements and lot of possibilities. Now they cant achieve this. For this reason I think it is bad strategy.

        Posted by Martin February 23, 2012 at 4:34 am

          Yeah! Just watch at Alexa. If you go on watch pageview and set it on “trailing for 3 months” you can see that the pageviews went up, when there was the announcement to the new feature. When they disclosed the secret (that you have to pay for it) it went down drastically. In the last 7 days it went down -31%…
          Ok, the last mont hat +43% but that was becasue of the announcment, as I said…

          Posted by Mabie February 24, 2012 at 11:55 am

It’s more of a step back than “the next step forward” in computational knowledge since we don’t have access to what used to be free. We aren’t being given “the full power of Wolfram|Alpha’s computational knowledge” either because we had it before but now we must pay for it.

Posted by Lee April 3, 2012 at 8:43 am

To all the naysayers: Oh and I suppose Wikipedia is free to you because Wikipedia asked for contributions to pay its staff on all of its pages, and you chose not to contribute; you let others carry your weight. I’ll gladly subscribe to this!

Posted by Rob H June 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Some people complain about the price of a great product. To me the student packet is reasonable, it takes years of research and years of effort to make this kind of software. Where is the money for all of that?

Posted by Word Count Tool August 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm