First Look At Wolfram Alpha's Impressive Knowledge Computation

How many football fields would fit between the Earth and the sun? What's the likelihood of getting 2 heads in 10 coin flips? One search engine calculates all that on the fly and more.

Mathematician Stephen Wolfram's much-hyped "computational knowledge engine" Wolfram Alpha just went public, and it's got more than a few data nerds tickled absolutely pink (myself included). Walpha (as I affectionately call it) finds and visualizes real-world data points from natural language queries.

I've just spent the last couple of hours throwing every kind of data query I could think of at Walpha. Some of the results were incredibly useful, others baffling, and others just missing. Here are some of the fun facts I learned using Walpha's calculations.

Walpha even makes CAPTCHAs and offers web site statistics given a URL.

Still, Walpha's very, well, alpha, and at times tonight it buckled under the load of the launch rush–but not without a sense of humor. Here's Walpha's error page:

Also, Walpha balked on several questions I was sure it could handle, like what the weather in New York was the day my parents got married, and what kind of MPG the Prius gets. Don't even try things like chicken or the egg or if a tree falls in the woods…

Still, while Walpha's everyday uses for Joe Normal Web Searcher won't be obvious, this thing is a goldmine for researchers, students, journalists, and bloggers. If this is the alpha, I can't wait for the beta.

Fun with Knowledge Computation at Wolfram|Alpha [Smarterware]


Comments

    I asked what the meaning of life was and it is 42. AWESOME!

    Polish online IT mag di.com.pl tested Wolfram's knowledge. It seems, that it's not very accurate. E.g. Poland is not mentioned among countries, that took part in the Worls War II. It's more funny, if you realise, that Poland was the very first contry invaded by nazi Germany.

      you need to distinguish between computable/measureable fact and other stuff. I stand corrected, but since Poland was invaded and was occupied it didn't declare war on anyone and didn't take part in fighting yes or no?

        You are talking nonsense. According to your line of reasoning Soviet Union, USA, France and other countries didn't took part too.

    Yeat ,to now,we know that http://wolpha.com not as perfect as we think before.but it sometimes works too,for example ,for math and some science compution.

      Tom, the official shorter site is wolfa.com, with an f, not ph

        Both wolpha.com and wolfa.com are illegal mirror sites (probably both run by the same entity). They are not wolframalpha.com.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now