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Test Driving the Wolfram Alpha

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the know-what-i-know-if-you-know-what-i-mean dept.

Math 124

SilverMind writes in to note a blog entry at Byte Size Biology describing in detail a few hours spent with Wolfram Alpha (which we have discussed before). "After playing around with Wolfram Alpha for a few hours, I can safely say the following: it's different, it's incomplete, it's idiosyncratic, and it's funky cool. And no, it will not dethrone Google, nor does it aim to do so."

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Needs a better name (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27901745)

How the hell am I supposed to "Wolfram Alpha" something? No one will ever say that.

Re:Needs a better name (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27901831)

A suitable portmanteau may emerge. Wolfa? Walpha? Wralph?

Re:Needs a better name (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27901837)

Linux is an OS for faggots. Linus Torvalds likes to give men blowjobs and rimjobs.

Re:Needs a better name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27902829)

I can verify at least one of those.

Re:Needs a better name (0, Offtopic)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904771)

You're thinking of richard stall (as in bathroom) man. True fact: his given last name is "Wilson". "Stallman" was a nickname from the 70s. (Hey, it was the 70s, no AIDs, and lots of cock and pussy to be had).

Re:Needs a better name (4, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902001)

"Ralph."

E.g., "can you tell me the names of the original members of the Bay City Rollers?" "Ralph it for yourself."

Re:Needs a better name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27902519)

That makes me want to ralph.

Re:Needs a better name (2, Funny)

SoVeryTired (967875) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904777)

Surely "Wolf" would be better. Wou could even spell it with a "ph" to emphasise the "alpha" part.

Instead of a googlewhack, you'd get a Lone Wolf. Basically, everything you did on the internet would sound about eight times cooler.

Re:Needs a better name (1)

mrops (927562) | more than 5 years ago | (#27905631)

I was thinking WoPho

but then figured MoPho is more catchy

Q: Hey whats the capital of Uganda?
A: Go MoPho.

Re:Needs a better name (5, Insightful)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902051)

Can you say "Observables for the Analysis of Event Shapes in e+ e- Annihilation and Other Processes" without taking a breath? Mr. Wolfram can :)

Seriously, that is not a general search engine or even engine as we understand today. It is something else. It is the click happy IT media which compares it to Google and I am sure people at Wolfram research either laughs or cries because of it.

Re:Needs a better name (3, Interesting)

joss (1346) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903623)

Ah ffs, what the hell do you think a 'general search engine' is ? Google's algorithms are seriously complicated too. I'll pretty much guarantee you Google use, or at very least have experimented with an algorithm which does very very close approximation to 'analysis of event shapes in e+ and e- annihilation' except it was implemented to run in scalable way on finite hardware. Also, quite aside from all that, why the hell wouldn't one compare it to google when people would be using it for the exact same purpose.

Without *actual* AI, their goal is completely impossible and their results will include millions of weird artifacts [or 'bugs' as far as users are concerned], so I predict that even in their chosen sub-domain, people will soon get frustrated and confused and return to Google.

Re:Needs a better name (4, Insightful)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904889)

Also, quite aside from all that, why the hell wouldn't one compare it to google when people would be using it for the exact same purpose.

People might use Wikipedia for the same purpose as Google, that doesn't mean we should compare them. The people who expect every Google search to work in Alpha are wrong. Those who expect genetic, scientific, or mathematical comparisons to work in Google as it is now are equally wrong. Hell, Alpha doesn't even search the internet, it has its own information database.

How are the two comparable again?

Re:Needs a better name (1)

James Skarzinskas (518966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902297)

Personally, my money's on "ram". Write your own porn joke.

Re:Needs a better name (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903033)

Don't worry, google will buy it soon enough

Re:Needs a better name (1)

siloko (1133863) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903287)

How the hell am I supposed to "Wolfram Alpha" something? No one will ever say that.

Well if someone told me ten years ago I would be using the world 'google' instead of 'search' for the web I would have laughed my socks off. Not something I do often incidentally.

Re:Needs a better name (1)

s7dhansh (1157823) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904951)

but everyone will say "i wolfed google"? or at least will love to.

Re:Needs a better name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27905125)

A perfectly good verb already exists. "Search" It doen's apply to google, because googling only gives you a list where you then have to afterwards search for the results. However, Wolfram Alpha removes the need for you to do a search through their search results, and therefore you simply use the verb search.

It's simple

Re:Needs a better name (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#27908007)

Except that, as the article explains, Wolfram Alpha is not a search engine. It doesn't crawl the web, and it gives you answers, not web addresses. Therefore the term "search" would be wrong.

Re:Needs a better name (1)

Exitar (809068) | more than 5 years ago | (#27906163)

"Woffa".

Video of Alpha in action (4, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27901763)

There is a video called A Sneak Preview of Wolfram|Alpha [youtube.com] on YouTube that seems to have been filmed at a talk Wolfram gave. After watching it I think I have a decent idea of what it's like to use, and just how very different it is from every other search out there. I can't wait to try it.

And to see what happens when you search for "Rick Astley".

I'd also like to see if it can convert things like 1 GB into Libraries of Congress. Google's unit conversion doesn't include the LOC, sadly.

Re:Video of Alpha in action (5, Informative)

tromtone (1186091) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902103)

I have preview access and just tried it.

Like other singers, it lists his full name, date of birth, place of birth, and a timeline of his life. There are no events on the timeline, and it extends all the way until 2010, so apparently he's at least got one more year to try to top Never Gonna Give You Up.

By the way, here's [youtube.com] a screen capture video of me putting this search into Wolfram Alpha.

Re:Video of Alpha in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27903195)

This video is not available in your country. - From Germany

Re:Video of Alpha in action (3, Funny)

abundance (888783) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904413)

I'm from Italy and I can report that youtube has not yet implemented rickroll protection for my country

Re:Video of Alpha in action (4, Interesting)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903201)

Is there a reason you restricted your screen capture video to certain countries?

Re:Video of Alpha in action (4, Interesting)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903239)

Recently in the New York Times, there is an article about how YouTube is segmenting its reach, because it is expensive to stream their media to developing nations, that fail to return costs back to Yahoo in the form of advertising rates/revenue.

"In Developing Countries, Web Grows Without Profit"
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/technology/start-ups/27global.html [nytimes.com]

CORRECTION: Google owns Youtube, not Yahoo (2, Informative)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903251)

doh! (Happy Monday)

Re:CORRECTION: Google owns Youtube, not Yahoo (1)

BrettJB (64947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27907831)

Your mistake makes your nick all the more appropriate, so be proud!

Re:Video of Alpha in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27903833)

Fairly sure that's not why. I'm in the UK (advertising is pretty big here..) and the video is unavailable.

He'll have had music (Astley?) playing, they don't have the license to stream that to the UK.

Re:Video of Alpha in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27903997)

I might be wrong about this, but Germany isn't a developing country. Yet....

Re:Video of Alpha in action (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#27908091)

I might be wrong about this, but Germany isn't a developing country. Yet....

So it's a non-developing country. :-)

It's finally happening... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27906533)

The Advertising Bullshit Bubble is finally starting to collapse. This is both a good thing and a bad thing.

Businesses are slowly realizing how utterly ineffective advertising can be when it's poorly targeted or not targeted at all. Now they're realizing that people who live in developing countries don't have the cash or opportunities to buy their products. Next they'll realize that even when targeted to the right countries, ads are rarely reaching the target audience. A good example is the ads for HSBC bank - some sort of international bank or something - that were coating the inner surfaces of some Canadian airports I passed through earlier this year. I don't see how they're relevant to any Average Joe (in this case I'll call myself an Average Joe), and they were artsy, highly abstract and entirely uninformative - I imagine they'd be totally useless even if they reached their target audience (large business owners?).

I also remember seeing an ad for a Barracuda email archival appliance, and I took note of it - that was relevant to *me* but any average Joe wouldn't even know what it is - and it would be categorically irrelevant to anyone not working in certain positions in an IT department. That ad was just as untargeted as the HSBC ads - I was one of the few it would be relevant to.

The problem is that a lot of industries are totally or partially advertising-supported: Various sports, websites (which as you can see in the nytimes article and the recent talk of online newspapers switching to paid reader subscriptions, are being affected) and print media such as magazines immediately come to mind. Without big corporations wantonly throwing advertising dollars at them, the cost will be shifted to the consumer.

A potential upside is that the companies that were randomly pissing away advertising dollars *could* use fewer, targeted ads and spend more money on R&D or pass the savings onto the consumer. Unfortunately a more realistic possibility is that it will be spent on assaulting relevant parties with a nonstop barrage of ads, or the savings will go right into the executives' paychecks.

But all of this is just my opinion...

Re:Video of Alpha in action (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27903227)

"This video is not available in your country." Youtube sucks on purpose.

Re:Video of Alpha in action (1)

janopdm (1292860) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903561)

I can wait for it to launch to start asking stupid questions.

Re:Video of Alpha in action (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 5 years ago | (#27907815)

Inquiring minds must know.... what does it say when you ask, "What is the meaning of life".

Re:Video of Alpha in action (1)

tromtone (1186091) | more than 5 years ago | (#27908245)

input interpretation: "answer to life, the universe, and everything"

result: 42

....
Interestingly, if you type "42", it doesn't mention any reference to the Hitchhiker's Guide, though Wolfram MathWorld is the top result for the same Google query.

Re:Video of Alpha in action (3, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902241)

Use Qalculate!, and define your own units. :)

Oh, and remember to define "B" as byte and "b" as bit, or you might end up with somethingsomething megabarns of memory. ^^

Re:Video of Alpha in action (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#27905253)

megabarns of memory

I'm reminded of the quote about the bandwidth of a station-wagon full of backup tapes hurtling down the highway..

How many station-wagons are there in a megabarn?

Re:Video of Alpha in action (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27905901)

Interestingly, a barn is a very small unit. One sq. ft. is 6.4516E24 barns. One m^2 is 1E28 barns.

Must be very very tiny farms, with very very very tiny animals...

Re:Video of Alpha in action (2, Interesting)

rve (4436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902697)

How are they going to sell advertisements on this? How is this going to get funded?

Google makes money by selling search keywords and banners with random ads that their software thinks have something to do with the reason why you're viewing a page. I don't see this business model working for Wolfram; not unless a lot of people are interested in graphs and a statistical analysis on which TV set is the best value for money.

I'm not a marketing guy, maybe someone who is can think of something, anything?

The only thing I can think of is a subscription model, and I believe there is too much free stuff on the internet that I suppose is 'good enough' to leave room for subscription based content.

Re:Video of Alpha in action (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27903991)

If there are eyes on the page you can sell ads. If they're searching for TVs (your example) show them ads for TV. Show them ads for nearby stores that have offers on TVs. Show them ads for sites that have information about which TV is better and why. Show them ads for DVD rentals that they'll want to use with their new TV.

That's just the example you came up with... there is a lot of scope to advertising.

Re:Video of Alpha in action (2, Insightful)

rve (4436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904917)

If there are eyes on the page you can sell ads. If they're searching for TVs (your example) show them ads for TV. Show them ads for nearby stores that have offers on TVs. Show them ads for sites that have information about which TV is better and why. Show them ads for DVD rentals that they'll want to use with their new TV.

That's just the example you came up with... there is a lot of scope to advertising.

...but all these things are based on data that a search engine like Google would have, and Wolfram, if I understand it correctly, would not.

Malcolms (1)

EdgeyEdgey (1172665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904469)

Does it convert into Malcolm's [wikia.com] ?
"A wavelength parcel of ten KH/Z operating in 4 Dimensions equals one Malcolm"

Trek (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27901885)

But does it do the Majel Barrett voice?

On the other hand, that would make looking for porn far too awkward. Nvm.

Re:Trek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27902013)

But does it do the Majel Barrett voice?

On the other hand, that would make looking for porn far too awkward. Nvm.

Especially since she's dead you necrophilia loving son of a bitch.

AI exercise? (5, Informative)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#27901995)

Understanding written sentences and answering them by using logical cognition is part of what successful AI has to achieve..

Something that Wolfram might not directly telling you.

Re:AI exercise? (1)

All_One_Mind (945389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903477)

Call me a cynic, but your second sentence is hilarious when contrasted with your first sentence.

Re:AI exercise? (1)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903913)

Just avoid asking it blatant questions like:

Are you Skynet?

Re:AI exercise? (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903687)

Understanding written sentences [...] Something that Wolfram might not directly telling you.

You forgot to adding word "incorrect".

Who came up with "Google Killer"? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27902011)

I am really getting sick of it. People who has no clue about what they write, adds cheap titles like "Google Killer" to every innovation in search, "iPhone killer" to mobile app/os/device etc.

It doesn't do any good to the service/device/software mentioned. It just guarantees the huge amount of people will be "free astroturfers" for Google/Apple etc. spreading jokes about the product no matter how good it is or how much potential it has.

No, you can't "kill" Google by simply inventing something and I don't believe a scientist run company has such stupid ideas in mind.

"iPhone killer" is especially hilarious (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27906983)

...because there will NEVER be an "iPhone killer."

Wait! Keep reading, I'm far from an Apple fanboy...

Ever since the iPhone came out, app stores and locked-down devices have been the norm. Competition among cell phone makers is a joke - they all have to do what the telcos want and while they can try to compete with each other, the telcos always win and the consumer always loses. There isn't much room for innovation.

So they'll keep cranking out locked-down phones with whiz-bang features to lure consumers in but they'll never be able to make a real "breakthrough" device. The iPhone wasn't a breakthrough where functionality was concerned, it just had a nice UI that made it easy and convenient enough for the Average Joe to do the same things Symbian and Palm users had been doing for years, but the freedom to develop and install whatever you want out of the box was lost.

A real "breakthrough" device would be, say, a WiMAX VoIP phone, or a UMPC-phone running a desktop OS of the users' choice, or hey, both of those together! But that will never happen now, it'll just be a tit-for-tat feature fight between "me-too" products.

"Alpha" it. (0)

RavenChild (854835) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902035)

Sounds like a good verb.

I am a programmer. The first thing I thought was "if Alpha can find the GDP of France divided by Italy, what is its programming potential?" Could someone create an input string to offload calculations and save their own CPU-time?

Will they prevent large calculations to prevent any "App Engine" like functionality?

finally (4, Interesting)

suricatta (617778) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902043)

Maybe we can get the difinitive answer for the meaning of life? :)

Re:finally (0, Redundant)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902081)

Good point. Quick, someone Google, I mean Wolfram Alpha "42" stat!

Re:finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27903061)

Ruby does this already... (4, Funny)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903765)

Ruby can do this already:

$ echo 'printf("%d\n", (6*9).to_s(13));' | ruby

No-one makes jokes in base 13 ! (2, Informative)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904485)

No-one makes jokes in base 13 !

Re:finally (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904025)

Maybe we can get the difinitive answer for the meaning of life? :)

forty-two

Which Wolfram Alpha (4, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902059)

Is it Wolfram Alpha V, or Wolfram Alpha VI? That's vitally important!

Re:Which Wolfram Alpha (1)

dingDaShan (818817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902105)

I truly wish that I did not understand this...

Re:Which Wolfram Alpha (2)

ailnlv (1291644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902611)

care to explain for the rest of us?

Re:Which Wolfram Alpha (5, Funny)

h4rdc0d3 (724980) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902771)

It is a reference to a pair of planets named in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - Seti Alpha V and Seti Alpha VI.

I won't explain any more in case you have not seen the movie, though if you haven't, what are you doing in here? How did you get past security? ;)

Re:Which Wolfram Alpha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27902187)

This IS Wolfram Alpha V!!

Re:Which Wolfram Alpha (1)

ijakings (982830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903311)

KHHHHHAAAAANNNNNNNNN

Or, if we are going from the new movie.

SPOOOOOCCCCCCKKKKKKKK

Re:Which Wolfram Alpha (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#27908291)

WOLFRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM!

(Damn filter! Ok, this parenthetical text is junk, but it's necessary to get this through the filter. And no, the above is not LIKE yelling, it IS yelling. That's the point, after all.)

Not A Search Engine (5, Informative)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902101)

For those of you who aren't gonna RTFA, I would like to reiterate something that is stated in TFA, because it seems, from reading comments on previous articles about Wolfram|Alpha, that people think this is a search engine and is trying to compete with the likes of Google and whatnot. I also get this from a couple articles from various tech sites that I've read who search for... things... on W|A and compare the results to Google and claim that Google is superior. [slashdot.org]

People, W|A is not a search engine in the conventional sense. It is more of a knowledgebase. It is a computational engine. Rather than finding websites that tell you about what you're trying to learn about, W|A gives you the information you're looking for on their site, pulled from a large 20-someodd-year-old database of verified scientific facts that began with Wolfram Mathematica. If the info you're looking for isn't directly present in the database, W|A will compute it for you if it has the necessary data dependencies. W|A is not the same as Google and is not trying to compete with Google, so to those of please stop trying to pass off side-by-side comparisons between W|A and Google as journalism. That's not to say, though, that Google won't try to buy them out or even start up their own academic knowledgebase to compete with Wolfram... and yes, that would be Google entering Wolfram's domain, not the other way around. [/rant]

Anyways, I think W|A looks awesome and I will surely poke around when it launches on May 18 (I think... correct me if I'm wrong please).

Re:Not A Search Engine (4, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902267)

For those of you who aren't gonna RTFA, I would like to...

tl;dr. ;)

Re:Not A Search Engine (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903115)

To put it in one word : think about it as HAL, not as Google.

Re:Not A Search Engine (0)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903283)

"Open the pod bay doors, Stephen!"
"I'm sorry, Dave, you're not nearly as smart as me [today.com] ."

What a giant viral marketing campain... (1, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902205)

...and you all are so completely falling for it.

It's just like with games. It's still half a century or something, until it is available to the general public, but already we get stuffed up to the nose with blablabla (for lack of a better term) about it. ^^

This alone is a reason for me to avoid it, and recommend you to do so too.

Re:What a giant viral marketing campain... (3, Informative)

ailnlv (1291644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902713)

According to wikipedia, its supposed to go public on the 18th. That's a bit more than a week and a lot less than half a century.

Re:What a giant viral marketing campain... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27903471)

its supposed to go public on the 18th. That's a bit more than a week and a lot less than half a century.

If I had access to Wolfram Alpha, I could tell you exactly how much it is. :\

Re:What a giant viral marketing campain... (1)

mati.stankiewicz (1326159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902917)

Well I really like the idea and don't care whether this is marketing campaign or not.
I don't understand why you want to avoid it.

Re:What a giant viral marketing campain... (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27905955)

Because I avoid companies that use crooked methods such as viral marketing -- which is nothing else than lying about who you are, to sneak under the radar of "this is advertisement" -- to get the news out. Why not do it in a normal fashion? Why not really let others test it, instead of paying an employee to act as if he were not affiliated, to trick us?

Sorry, but this is morally unacceptable behavior. Something only crooks and criminals do. Plain and simple.

Re:What a giant viral marketing campain... (1)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903037)

Methinks you dont know what a viral marketing campaign is. Announching a product before its release isn't viral. Besides, it's released on the 18th of May - that's hardly half a centuary.

Re:What a giant viral marketing campain... (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904519)

Methinks you dont know what a viral marketing campaign is.

A statement like that could break the Internet.

Re:What a giant viral marketing campain... (1)

jpop32 (596022) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903393)

This alone is a reason for me to avoid it, and recommend you to do so too.

Dude, you forgot to rant about Wolframs ego. C'mon, if you're going to completely ignore the actual merits of the product at hand, at least do it proprely.

Thanks, Captain Redundant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27902235)

And no, it will not dethrone Google, nor does it aim to do so.

WHY THE FUCK am I treated to that statement every time Wolfram Alpha is mentioned?

What's the point? (4, Interesting)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902289)

Am I the only one getting a little sick of all these "Oh look there's so much buzz around Wolfram Alpha! Really, you are all very excited about it!" previews/sneak-peeks/tidbits/etc?

Until I can actual use it, I have exactly zero interest in this thing. Is there really any reason to propagate the marketing drivel?

Re:What's the point? (2, Insightful)

carlzum (832868) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902805)

Until I can actual use it, I have exactly zero interest in this thing. Is there really any reason to propagate the marketing drivel?

The article got me interested, but when I wanted to try it out I got this page [wolframalpha.com] . It says "Launching May 2009," so I'll reserve my judgment.

It's not the calculations that make this interesting, it's the breadth of data available. Google is wildly popular because you can find information about nearly every obscure fact imaginable. If Wolfram can do the same with quantitative information it will also be wildly popular (albeit to a smaller audience.) If the search results are limited or irrelevant, I'll stick with Google and do the calculations myself.

Re:What's the point? (2, Informative)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902973)

Well, at least this reviewer understands what Alpaha is and presents it clearly, unlike the other 2 (or is it more?) stories Slashdot has run on it where the article writers (and most of Slashot readership!) seem to think it's a search engine.

Re:What's the point? (1)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 5 years ago | (#27908709)

Yeah, exactly. Who the hell wants to know details about a product before its released?

And then, someone will make a mash-up with Google (2, Interesting)

Night64 (1175319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902571)

And what we will have? A computational data engine working with the biggest search engine. I, for one, welcome our new cybernetic overlord, Skynet, err, Wolfram Omega-Google.

Interesting Market for Wolfram (0, Offtopic)

mizzouxc (985151) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902609)

I never thought I'd see Wolfram compete in the search market. However, this isn't much of a surprise to me after reading The World is Flat [amazon.com]
Apparently, Google and many others use complex mathematics to figure ouch which porn site has the best, free content! On a more serious note, it's nice to see Google is getting some competition. The Wolfram search appears to be easy, yet also simple; something that Google has pioneered.

Alpha? (5, Funny)

Znooptree (1371719) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902635)

When Google get their hands on this, it will be Wolfram Beta forever.

Re:Alpha? (3, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903779)

When Google get their hands on this, it will be Wolfram Beta Forever.

But things with "Forever" in their name never ship!

Re:Alpha? (1)

TerribleNews (1195393) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904549)

When Google get their hands on this, it will be Wolfram Beta Forever.

But things with "Forever" in their name never ship!

And that is why this will really be the google killer.

Re:Alpha? (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 5 years ago | (#27905843)

Google doesn't need Wolfram for AI, they already have their own AI [google.com] running. It even created its own personal web page [blogspot.com] by analyzing what the majority of the web looks like.

Apparently, The AI entity likes Pandas, which will set it on a direct collision course with others on the web [blogspot.com] .

mod do3n (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27902739)

wer3 taiken over [goat.cx]

What a bunch of BS (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27902809)

"Its different, its incomplete, its idiosyncratic, and its funky cool."

Gosh, it's like a list of words that a marketing company promises its client that it will use. God save me from 25-year-olds with marketing degrees.

Re:What a bunch of BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27903083)

Well, if you'd bother to TFA, you would see that this is a blog post by someone with a PhD in biology, who is actually very critical of W/A

This looks cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27902827)

...someone mentioned it's a cornerstone of AI - I would have to say it's WAYYYYY more like AI than Google...although it's easy to compare them off of each other, they are NOT the same.

The search syntax may look similar, how Wofram Alpha calculates data is fundamentally different than how Google presents it's data.

Pretty much just re-iterating what others have posted...but have to get that point across - it's being missed here.

Wolfram Alpha: A new kind of search engine (0)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903257)

Guest post [today.com] by Stephen Wolfram

Some might say that Mathematica, the source of my fortune, and A New Kind Of Science: A Brief History Of My Stupendous Intellect were ambitious projects. But in recent years I've been hard at work on a still more ambitious project: Wolfram Alpha.

Fifty years ago, people assumed that computers would quickly be able to handle all kinds of question. It didn't work out that way. But a few years ago, I realized that I was finally in a position to do it myself. As I'd always expected I'd have to, of course.

I had the crucial ingredients: Mathematica and A New Kind Of Science. And my truly massive intellect. With these, I had a language to compute anything and a paradigm for complexity from simple rules. And my spectacular brain, which is much more spectacular than anyone else's, as proven by me being rich as well as smart. Which is smarter: to be a professor, or to be the professor all the other professors pay tribute to? I think my net worth makes the answer clear.

But what about all the actual knowledge that we as humans have accumulated? I realized we needed to make all data computable as knowledge. Of course, natural language is incredibly difficult for computers. So we added the secret ingredient: my jaw-droppingly spectacular brain, undoubtedly the largest on Earth.

I'm happy to say that with a mixture of clever algorithms and heuristics, linguistic discovery and curation, and some casual Nobel-worthy theoretical breakthroughs in my spare moments, we've made it work. It's going to be a website with one simple input field that gives direct access to my superlative brain, in its planet-sized glory.

Our pre-launch testers have been at work as well, and I'm dealing with all manner of queries in spare thought cycles while I jetset around the world, wowing the pitiful minds of gorgeous international supermodels before impregnating them with my superior genetic material. Let's just have a look at the query stream:
"tits" "goatse" "mary whitehouse naked" "4chan" "tubgirl" "2girls1cup" "ITS OVER 9000 LOL" "desu desu desu desu"
ERROR ERROR ERROR
#(â^^(856â^*#**â#&*##&##^^^
NO CARRIER_

Spammer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27903453)

Do you do anything on Slashdot other than paste lame "funny" articles to your blog? Don't you have some Wikipedia regulations to butcher or something? Isn't lemonparty.org low on bandwidth? Don't you have to satisfy one of your wives? Something, anything other than spamming Slashdot?

True Knowledge (2, Insightful)

Stuidge (1104439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27903451)

This seems very similar to True Knowledge [trueknowledge.com] , which has been in Beta for ages, and not as other people suggest, Google

9Ep?! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27904087)

MOVIE [i8db.3om] Developers

Looks like a sophisticated content scraper. (1)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904513)

Here's the big problem I see with Wolfram Alpha. I'm not very familiar with it, but from what it looks like, they are assimilating data over the internet and using it in their AI to answer users' questions.

What is the benefit people that create that information to allow Wolfram Alpha to index it? It doesn't look like it will drive traffic or revenue to their sites. If anything it will take away.

I have a feeling Wolfram Alpha crawlers will be blocked by many webmasters.

Update (3, Interesting)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904697)

BTW, there was an update to the previous Wolfram Alpha vs Google post here [technologyreview.com] . The author tried some of the searches suggested by Slashdot readers.

Wikipedia (1)

Sudline (1552111) | more than 5 years ago | (#27904753)

Wolfram Alpha must be compared to Wikipedia, not to Google. And to be honest, since it is in its first day, it must be compared to Wikipedia in its first days.

comparisons, wow (1)

hey (83763) | more than 5 years ago | (#27906551)

Being able to compare the population of two places doesn't seem so amazing to me. Now, I can get the population of 2 states and compare them myself.

Interesting essay on Wolfram Alpha by Andy Oram (1)

kfogel (1041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27908431)

Andy Oram, an editor at O'Reilly, wrote this essay on Wolfram Alpha and how it fits (or doesn't fit) into the "tech-splicing" revolution:

Results from Wolfram Alpha: All the Questions We Ever Wanted to Ask About Software as a Service [praxagora.com]

(Disclaimer: Andy is my editor. But it's a good article; check it out.)

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