Wolfram | Alpha may look like a regular search engine, but it’s not. It it generates output by doing computations from its own internal knowledge base, instead of searching the web and returning links. This is called a computational search engine. It has just announced it will be integrated in Microsoft’s Bing search engine. I have added it to the Fast Media Magazine sidebar as well so you can see how it works.
Wolfram|Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. It aims to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.
Here are some examples of the possible applications of Wolfram | Alpha:
- When you search for specific food items on Bing, you’ll get a nutrition quick tab that allows you to learn more about it. You also get a nutrition facts label at the bottom of the results page that summarizes all information on that food item in a very familiar and friendly format.
- Flu season is here and you want to ensure a solid immune system. Which has more vitamins, orange or kiwi?
- You are working out to get in shape for the ski season. Which has more protein, steak or chicken?
Stephen Wolfram explains some of the applications in this 3 part video: