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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

Introducing the Wolfram|Alpha Handwritten Knowledge Engine

April 1, 2013 —
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Today, we’re proud to unveil the Wolfram|Alpha Handwritten Knowledge Engine, a new, more personal way of delivering computed answers.

You might be wondering where this idea came from. Well, let me tell you a story.

We had a thought not long ago that it would be nice to get you (the internet) a gift. One of those “just because” things to spread a bit of happiness around the world.

Conventional wisdom holds that the best gifts are handmade. But making gifts by hand for over 2.2 billion people? It was a daunting challenge. Luckily, we had a head start: Wolfram|Alpha already computes its answers just for you. The answer to every query, question, and computation is custom-generated, drawing upon trillions of pieces of built-in knowledge.

We began to imagine ways to add that handmade, personal flair to Wolfram|Alpha results. Artisanal answers, if you will. We narrowed it down to “putting a bird on it” versus a handwritten interface, results pages and all. Handwriting won the coin toss.

You remember handwriting, right? The thing you used to do with a pen, to write letters and checks? Checks, well, they were these pieces of paper that represented… you know what, I should get back to the story.

We knew we’d need a goodly number of contributors, as well as some sort of training component—consistency is important, after all. Human Resources began recruiting in earnest (by the way, we’re hiring), as well as organizing a Corporate Penmanship Retreat.

That brings us to now. The retreat just wrapped, and the Wolfram|Alpha Handwritten Knowledge Engine is ready to go. Ask a question, and your machine-computed results will be transcribed and illustrated by a real live human being.

I recommend acting fast. A few of the physicists already have writer’s cramp, and the pop culture researchers might be next.

So what will you compute? I definitely cannot recommend running your homework through Wolfram|Alpha, printing out the handwritten results, and trying to pass them as your own. Definitely not. But here are some other ideas to get you going.

Go meta, and get handwritten knowledge about the word handwriting:



Find derivatives… with style:

derivative of x^4 sin x


Put your mind at ease with a handwritten verification of some important information:

Are you Skynet?


Why not Zoidberg?

Zoidberg-like curve


We hope you enjoy the Wolfram|Alpha Handwritten Knowledge Engine. Please share your favorites in the comments.

April 2, 2013 Update: We hope you enjoyed the handwritten Wolfram|Alpha results on April Fools’ Day. While some staff are recovering from carpal tunnel, we have returned to the normal styling for all results.

If you want to see the handwritten results, begin any query with “handwritten style” (without quotes), and our staff will get back to work!


At least you didn’t use comic sans.

You probably would not want to use *my* handwriting as a model.

Happy AFD

Posted by George Woodrow III April 1, 2013 at 7:25 am

Congrats guys!

Posted by Walter April 1, 2013 at 7:28 am

Why not Zoidberg?

Posted by Jace April 1, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Well done, I agree – and in earnest, I think I like the hand-drawn plots and will use them for seminars. They have a certain blackboard quality to them, great for teaching!
As to the Zoidberg curve…that’s just hilarious!

Posted by Felix April 1, 2013 at 5:54 pm

hahah best April Fools’ joke of this year!

Posted by Henri April 1, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Lol, Happy April Fools!

Posted by Tom April 1, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Bring it back! It was really a great look. (At least as an option for Pro users?)

Posted by John Timms April 2, 2013 at 12:59 am

    I’m with you on that!!!!!
    I think it’s awesome that you guys gave W/A a “personality” (so to say). Our computers work hard, they deserve to be personalized.

    I’d be cool to have several different styles for the text too. (Although, handwritten alone is great.)

    Posted by Stephanie December 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Cool, your knowledge engine has reached the point where it has a sense of humor!

Posted by Paul Kwiatkowski April 2, 2013 at 1:36 am

I just would love to be able to put my requirements in handwritten input.
For older people is a little difficult to use the keyboard to type questions
Specially math questions.

Posted by franklin juarez August 20, 2015 at 7:20 pm