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Bing To Use Wolfram Alpha Results

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the taking-a-look dept.

Microsoft 179

angry tapir writes "Microsoft is rolling out some enhancements to its Bing search engine, including some that rely on computational information delivered by Wolfram Alpha. That means that people will be able to search for some complicated information, and the search engine will be able to compute the answers. In a blog post, Tracey Yao, program manager, and Pedro Silva, product manager at Microsoft, give some examples."

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brb (5, Funny)

russlar (1122455) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069534)

brb, dividing by zero on bing

Re:brb (3, Insightful)

rliden (1473185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069820)

I wanna know what sound that answer makes.

Re:brb (5, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070040)

Well, out of interest I went out and tried it. While remembering Bing is located at www.bing.com, I google'd it because thats faster. Now I'm at the Bing homepage, taking a sip of my morning coffee. I write the query to the search box and

Re:brb (1)

pHus10n (1443071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070202)

Did someone say Candleja

Re:brb (1)

MoeDumb (1108389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070240)

and??. . . and??. . .

Re:brb (3, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069872)

brb, dividing by zero on bing

Found 1 result:

LHC_Homepage
LHC - THE LARGE HADRON COLLIDER ... LHC Safety. LHC Cooldown Status. LHC@ interactions.org ... Revised: 2009-09-30 LHC Webmaster.
LHC NEWS - Cooldown_status - CERN Document Server
www.cern.ch/lhc

Re:brb (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070104)

I hit up Wolfram a few minutes ago to test out the search with such queries as "what is the temperature in beijing?" and "how far is it between earth and mars?" which it handled nicely with lots of relative graphs and links.

However, I was very pleased to see this search turn up a result:

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=is+there+an+easter+egg%3F [wolframalpha.com]

Hellllooo (3, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069544)

Been using Wolfram-enhanced search already - and without the b*** crap.

What else ya got...

Re:Hellllooo (5, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069632)

What else ya got...

An opportunity to flood tech sites with more Bingspam, what else do you want?

Microsoft is so desperate for page hits on Bo^Hing, I'm surprised they're not bribing schoolkids with boiled sweets already.

Re:Hellllooo (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070252)

Microsoft is so desperate for page hits on Bo^Hing, I'm surprised they're not bribing schoolkids with boiled sweets already.

I dunno the computer labs at my sisters school switched to Bing homepages and gave out candy on the same day. Coincidence? Maybe, but I wouldn't put it past them.

Re:Hellllooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070348)

Microsoft is so desperate for page hits on Bo^Hing, I'm surprised they're not bribing schoolkids with boiled sweets already.

What kid wants boiled sweets?

Re:Hellllooo (1)

pHus10n (1443071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070218)

Here on Slashdot, anything Microsoft is now filtered with asterisks. Much like curse words.

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069546)

A clock has at least two hands depicting the hour and minute of the day. If stopped, it would appear that the clock is useless, but twice a day the clock tells the current time perfectly. What matters most is that you look at the clock at precisely those two moments to tell the time. Otherwise the tool just doesn't work as you'd expect it.

So when you take two tools that aren't very good, sometimes you end up with something that might be useful. But then again, just because you have two hands doesn't mean you're going to end up doing something useful. One hand could be occupied or paralyzed or otherwise out of commission. The other hand could be gimpy or not your favored hand or even cut off entirely if you lived in Saudi Arabia.

What I'm trying to say here is simply what you all are already thinking. Who is actually using Bing? Furthermore, who is actually using Alpha? These two useless hands working together just makes it easier to forget them both altogether.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (4, Insightful)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069572)

What I'm trying to say here is simply what you all are already thinking

Next time, could you put that at the top of your post so I can skip it without having to first read a bad analogy?

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (5, Funny)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069712)

Wait, I don't understand. Why would you come to /. if you don't want to read a bad analogy?

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069886)

What's that like. Like a dolphin without a fin?

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070072)

I think his complaint was that it wasn't a CAR analogy...bad analogies are just fine as long as they involve carburettors and the ability to bash on those damn hot girls that always ignore us for chatting on their cell phones while driving...

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070146)

Wait, I don't understand. Why would you come to /. if you don't want to read a bad analogy?

Why that's like going to Vegas, and... something bad happens.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (5, Funny)

pHus10n (1443071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070234)

Why do I come here? Let me relate it to a car scenario... Say for example you drive to a McDonalds, you ask for a Big Mac and receive a Stanley Cup. That's why I come to Slashdot.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (1)

jellyfrog (1645619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070276)

Yeah, I know exactly what you m- wait, what?

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069776)

Next time, could you read the user name of the poster, so you know that he's BadAnalogyGuy?

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069910)

woosh?

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (1)

crazyvas (853396) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070094)

Next time, could you watch out for that whoooshing sound above your head before you post?

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (1)

2Bits (167227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070182)

He already said that he is a bad analogy guy, so why did you keep reading his analogy?

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (3, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069578)

erm, the term is "even a broken clock is right twice a day"

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069672)

Unless you preffer digital clocks, 24h notation like me. There is only one void in time, and i'd like to never meet it.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (1)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069714)

I think there's some variation; I've always preferred "stopped watch" myself.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070272)

Cool, thanks; you've given me a great idea for a new variation:

A broken stopwatch always tells the correct time; if you're not using it. :-)

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (2, Interesting)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069812)

I use Wolfram Alpha to help with homework (it doesn't just calculate things, it will walk you through how it did it), but I can't think of any reason I'd want Wolfram Alpha results to show up during a web search. When I have Wolfram Alpha open, I usually have it open for hours, so it's not like mixing this in with other search engine results is helpful.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (2, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069974)

Google (and Bing I think) are displaying quick info on calculations, currency conversations and such too. This is just taking a step further in that, and I gotta admit it's handy. This again actually makes me want to move to Bing again, considering quality of search results are quite equivalent with Google.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (4, Informative)

tibman (623933) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070110)

For kicks i checked out bing. It looks nearly identical to google : / The news page does, for sure. I don't have JS enabled for either site, so that might be why. The top nav bars are identical too. The shopping pages look different! Ok, searched for "arduino" on both. Google wins that one. Bing only showed one arduino item (a book, not even the device) and google had all correct results minus one. Ohh, bing images looks good.. correctly showing all arduino pictures too. Ah, but i can't click on anything.. must need javascript enabled. Google is showing similar pictures.. and works without javascript.

I'm still sold on google. Bing looks much cleaner than google though. Google still looks geeky with it's "I did your search in (0.04 seconds)" thing.. can't see that as being very useful. Bing looks more polished but Google is more functional.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069994)

Lets try what is the temperature in melbourne

Wolfram gives me the best result IMHO, and google the worst. Bing is close to wolfram but using a different source of data. For the average luser out there a nice chart or graphic is better than a link which you have to follow.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070044)

Maybe you should try your search as "Melbourne weather" instead. The results differ.

In addition, I used " weather" on all three, and found that Google displayed a pretty picture, whilst Bing didn't know about it.

Wolfram is of course more useful, with the graphing and whatnot.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (4, Insightful)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070054)

temperature in melbourne [google.com] works just fine. I guess I just never phrase search queries as complete sentences. You'd think Google would be smart enough to try the query without the "what is" though.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (2, Interesting)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070056)

Try a few more searches. WA was the best for "uk time" and Bing the worst. Google UK was the best for "glaxo share price" (and the only one that gave me what I wanted), and again Bing was the worst. Wolfram gave the right answer in the wrong currency (the primary listing in London, so the price should be in GBP pence.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070068)

Wolfram is a U.S. site, so it makes sense that they'd use dollars. I find it's most useful because you can specify how you want the answer (in this case glaxo share price in british pounds). I do find it strange that they don't detect where you live and base it on that.

What if humans are the stopped clock? (2, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069836)

In that the current google search is so good for the majority of users, that they are trying to grab at a few disatisfied straws. I can't really think of a way google search fails me, but perhaps if the results were presented a different way, I could see the clear-cut differences and improvements.

I think text search is pretty much there. The one thing I would appreciate is a better image search, and not relying on text of the image name, but being able to describe it, or sketch a rough outline, and for a search engine to recognize the content to some degree.

Re:What if humans are the stopped clock? (3, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069926)

or sketch a rough outline, and for a search engine to recognize the content to some degree.

Most common search term: (oYo).

Actually I'm kinda surprised this doesn't work already. Maybe there IS room for Bang to innovate in the text search field.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070160)

Actually, the Alpha's concept is good. It just needs more data and computing capacity.
I'm surprised Google didn't find it before M$.

Re:Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (2, Interesting)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070180)

Who is actually using Bing?

Well unfortunately here in Canada the Multiple Listing Service, which almost all Realtors use to advertise real estate for sale, has switched over to Bing from Google and Google maps. It is a large decrease in usability and functionality. But then MLS seems to feel a need to completely change it's public interface for the worse every year or two - I guess they have to or nobody would bother hiring a Realtor.

is google the next netscape? (0)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069560)

i think it's a valid question. netscape went from total market domination to nothing in a few years. granted MS pulled from under handed moves to make it happen that would be a LOT harder to do this time around, the scene is set the same. google innovates and takes market by storm, MS puts out a few non starters, eventually refines it's product to take the lead.

Re:is google the next netscape? (3, Insightful)

middlemen (765373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069600)

i think it's a valid question. netscape went from total market domination to nothing in a few years. granted MS pulled from under handed moves to make it happen that would be a LOT harder to do this time around, the scene is set the same. google innovates and takes market by storm, MS puts out a few non starters, eventually refines it's product to take the lead.

1. Netscape wasn't a public company as well run as Google is today.
2. Underhanded moves can be pulled by anyone, and Google is as smart as if not smarter than MSFT, which still has a lot of old blood from the 80s running the show.
3. Microsoft could also end up trying all the time to play catch up to Google, just like how Linux Desktop is touted as always(not my opinion) playing catch up to Windows or how Windows plays catch up to OSX and still ends up shabby or how Mono plays catch up to Microsoft C#.

The whole bing(TM) backronym of Bing Is Not Google, can also mean that it can never be as good as Google.

Re:is google the next netscape? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069976)

i'd debate that google is that well run. they have one killer business - their ads business. all their other projects are just attempts at grabbing mind share, and make them nothing directly. the whole time google has been in business they haven't been a huge success outside of their adwords business.

this could be deliberate, but it's hard to see how a publicly traded company wouldn't pursue other forms of revenue if they could.

the major thing google has in their favour, is that MS has no legal way to block people out of using google, and google has the legal might to defend themselfs against any attack MS might think of launching. So MS is on the unfamilar territory of having to innovate their way out of a corner, just don't make the mistake of thinking MS can't do it...

Re:is google the next netscape? (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070026)

So what? Google only makes money from advertising, MS only makes money from softwarel licensing. I see no reason to think eaither revenue stream is going to disappear in a hurry.

Re:is google the next netscape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070106)

MS also gets ad revenue, no? And they sell some hardware, support contracts, and other stuff too. Sure, they don't come anywhere close to sales of Windows and Office, but they're still something.

Re:is google the next netscape? (2, Interesting)

Strudelkugel (594414) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070088)

I can say that before Bing appeared, I used Google for 98% of my searches, others for the remaining 2%. I thought I would have a look at Bing and lose interest after a few tries, which is what happened with the other Microsoft engines.

I now use Bing for at least 50% of my searches, and more than that if I am looking for images. The potential problem Google has is that is incredibly easy to use another search engine. It's more difficult to switch an OS. I will be the first to admit that Bing is as good as it is, given the previous attempts Microsoft made.

No One Gives A Shit Retard (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070216)

Wow, someone actually uses Microsoft's shit last place search engine.

Whoop dee fucking do.

Are You Delusional Or Just Stupid? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069630)

Microsoft's latest rebranding of their failed search engine has lower marketshare now than when it was released.

It has lower marketshare than last year before it was rebranded with the new stupid 'bing' name.

Microsoft is so desperate they are resorting to paying the distant second place search engine Yahoo to use Microsoft's own last place search engine.

"eventually refines it's product to take the lead."

Yeah, that's the story you want to believe. Too bad Reality is fucking it up.

Re:Are You Delusional Or Just Stupid? (1)

Eirenarch (1099517) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069818)

And I assume that you don't want to believe this story because you want 1 search engine to rule them all. No competition, high ads prices, etc. On the other hand you are probably complaining all the time about Windows monopoly...

Re:is google the next netscape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069658)

Google moves too fast for MS to ever catch up, dirty tricks notwithstanding.

Bleh (3, Insightful)

adamkennedy (121032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069562)

So far I haven't been terribly impressed with Wolfram Alpha.

For example, searching for the price of oil in non-US dollars results in a US dollar timeline multiplied by the CURRENT exchange rate of that foreign currency, not in the historical timeline. It's like Alpha is having a stab at an answer, but isn't smart enough to know when it's answering the question wrong.

Re:Bleh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069718)

You mean it's not fucking psychic? Useless piece of non-psychic shit it is!

Re:Bleh (1)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069936)

Presumably data exist about historical exchange rates, so it ought to be able to correlate that data to produce a correct result. At the least, it shouldn't pretend to have an accurate answer when it's just fudging matters. In this case, Alpha has produced a result that's worse than useless for any serious purpose since it is apparently reasonable, yet completely wrong.

In any case, this is *exactly* the sort of basic processing Alpha needs to be able to do right to be useful. If Alpha can't do this sort of thing reliably, I have trouble coming up with a scenario where I would trust it to do anything I can't do faster and more easily myself.

Re:Bleh (1)

Tsujiku (902045) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070336)

Then look up the information in USD and cross reference it with the historical exchange rates on your own, or write an application to do so.

Re:Bleh (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069738)

Yeah I tried Wolfram|Alpha out [slashdot.org] when it was first released with pretty crappy results. Just not sure how a meh site is going to improved by a crappy one.

Re:Bleh (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069912)

So far I haven't been terribly impressed with Wolfram Alpha.

Neither was I.

I asked the thing a simple question, pertinent to the minds of many: "How to get rich quick?" and it went on about some nonsense about surnames of "Quick" and "Rich" and how many of these there are in the US...

I mean, yes it was a joke but seriously, this "semantic" search engine is incapable of doing even most basic natural language parsing, something that AI research projects were capable of back in the 1960s, instead assuming that whatever you type is a list of individual terms. And then, instead of trying to clarify the context, the thing returns wild guesses which it tries to pass as "results", despite the fact that it is horribly wrong as to the whole domain of the query, never you mind specifics. This is of course far worse from the point of view of design of AI systems then simply returning an "insufficient data" or "scope too large" type of message, as it is indicative of a system incapable of knowing its own limitations.

This of course applies to many other queries I tried, where the ratio of "wild shot in the dark" to "result of logical induction" in the "results" was about 100:1.

Words "pathetic" and "next to useless" come to mind when looking at this Wolfram-Ego-Megalomania .. err ... Alpha-and-Omega thing.

Re:Bleh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069960)

It's like Alpha is having a stab at an answer, but isn't smart enough to know when it's answering the question wrong.

Sounds a lot like it's creator [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Bleh (1)

s1lverl0rd (1382241) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070062)

You can't expect it to be completely right for every query you could possibly throw at it. I have actually been impressed with how 'intelligent' it manages to be (something like 'circumference of the earth in eiffel towers' gave me correct results).

New site name (2, Funny)

raftpeople (844215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070166)

We've combined Bing and Alpha and you get: Bleh!

wolfram alpha and hubristic user interfaces (4, Informative)

dackroyd (468778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069574)

It will be interesting how Bing presents Wolfram Alpha and whether it removes the inherent design flaws in it. There is an insightful but long article about the problems here - wolfram alpha and hubristic user interfaces [blogspot.com] . Two good quotes from which are:

Hype also generates funding because it generates exaggerated sales projections. For instance:

        "What Wolfram Alpha will do," Wolfram says, "is let people make use of the achievements of science and engineering on an everyday basis, much as the Web and search engines have let billions of people become reference librarians, so to speak."
        [...]
        It could do things the average person might want (such as generating customized nutrition labels) as well as things only geeks would care about (such as generating truth tables for Boolean algebraic equations).

Generating customized nutrition labels! The average person! I just laughed so hard, I needed a complete change of clothing.

Dr. Wolfram, may I mention a word to you? That word is MySpace. If there is any such person as this average person, she has a MySpace account. Does she generate customized nutrition labels? On a regular basis, or just occasionally? In what other similar activities does she engage - monitoring the population of Burma? Graphing the lifecycle of stars? Charting Korean copper consumption since the 1960s? Perhaps you should feed MySpace into your giant electronic brain, and see what comes out.

and

Google is not a control interface; WA is. When you use WA, you know which of these tools you wish to select. You know that when you type "two cups of flour and two eggs" (which now works) you are looking for a Nutrition Facts label. It is only Stephen Wolfram's giant electronic brain which has to run ten million lines of code to figure this out. Inside your own brain, it is written on glowing letters across your forehead.

So the giant electronic brain is doing an enormous amount of work to discern information which the user knows and can enter easily: which tool she wants to use.

When the giant electronic brain succeeds in this task, it has saved the user from having to manually select and indicate her actual data-visualization application of choice. This has perhaps saved her some time. How much? Um, not very much.

When the giant electronic brain fails in this task, you type in Grandma's fried-chicken recipe and get a beautiful 3-D animation of a bird-flu epidemic. (Or, more likely, "Wolfram Alpha wasn't sure what to do with your input." Thanks, Wolfram Alpha!) How do you get from this to your Nutrition Facts? Rearrange some words, try again, bang your head on the desk, give up. What we're looking at here is a classic, old-school, big steaming lump of UI catastrophe. ....

The task of "guess the application I want to use" is actually not even in the domain of artificial intelligence. AI is normally defined by the human standard. To work properly as a control interface, Wolfram's guessing algorithm actually requires divine intelligence. It is not sufficient for it to just think. It must actually read the user's mind. God can do this, but software can't.

Re:wolfram alpha and hubristic user interfaces (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069788)

Grandma's fried-chicken recipe: Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure how to compute an answer from your input

Re:wolfram alpha and hubristic user interfaces (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070004)

It must actually read the user's mind. God can do this

Google is God?

Of course!... the motto finally makes sense!

Good move, but... (4, Insightful)

tonycheese (921278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069584)

While this is interesting and possibly useful, it seems to me there's nothing stopping Google from turning around and doing the exact same thing. Wolfram is unaffiliated with either party as far as I know and certainly wouldn't mind getting exposure on the bigger of the two search engines as well.

And hey, I already do multiplication and find constants in my Google search box, it might be nice to do integrals and whatnot as well! In the meantime, if I have a specific enough question I'll just go directly to Wolfram's site to ask.

Re:Good move, but... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069652)

You are a special case, though. You are kind of a geek and have heard of Wolfram Alpha. The question is, will normal people notice that they are suddenly getting unusually useful answers out of Bing? If they do, then they will start using Bing more often. If Bing is sufficiently better than Google, I will start using it too.

But I don't think it will be better to the average person (or to me). Unless Wolfram Alpha starts making massive improvements, it will remain a toy.

Re:Good move, but... (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069708)

If they do, i sure hope Google introduces the feature on a worldwide scale. The bing.com results outside the US are useless, and there is no Wolfram-Alpha to be seen. Now why exactly should i use bing.com? It is not better at anything i use it for.

On one side, some competition for Google would be nice by now. But its not bing.com

Re:Good move, but... (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069816)

Closer to home, most of the simple math I do on my computer, I do in in MacOS X's Spotlight.

If I have a specific enough question, I ask google :)

Re:Good move, but... (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069916)

What? How do you get Spotlight to act as a calculator? You're not typing "calculator" into it, are you?

Re:Good move, but... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070000)

What? How do you get Spotlight to act as a calculator? You're not typing "calculator" into it, are you?

It's a feature in 10.5 and up... very slick and even faster than reaching for a slide rule if one uses the Apple-Spacebar shortcut to move focus into Spotlight.

Re:Good move, but... (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070024)

there's nothing stopping Google from turning around and doing the exact same thing.

But really, why would they? Google's results often contain links to exactly the same places. And arguably more useful places, too.

Google Dodecahedron [google.ca] and you get #1 wikipedia.com - #2 wolfram.com

I tried using Wolfram Alpha, but every time I do it tells me "Wolfram Alpha wasn't sure what to do with your input."

Next up... (4, Funny)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069656)

Bing to use google results!

Re:Next up... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069958)

Bada Bing

what about how Wulfram Alpha is not useful? (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069662)

For very narrow queries, where you already know ahead of time Wulfram Alpha supports it, you can get useful structured information out of it. For example, if you look up a first name or surname, you can get information on popularity and geographic distribution and such. But the only time I've ever gotten useful information like that is when I already knew that it supported a particular kind of query. That's less like a search engine, and more like just querying a database. There have always been special-purpose databases on the internet where you can look up specific information, once you know that such a database exists for a particular kind of fact. What Alpha utterly fails to do is answer any useful proportion of queries without already knowing in advance exactly what you need to query and what syntax to use when doing so.

And yes, I've seen Wulfram's talks on it, and they're crap. He presented via videoconference at IJCAI IJCAI 2009 [ijcai-09.org] , which he only got into because of the hype (sure, it's blind review, but it's hard to have blind review of a Wulfram Alpha paper that identifies itself as such in the paper), and there was no technical information at all, nor AI advances that weren't already done by like the 1960s (the AI advance in question is "querying a database").

Maybe Bing has something up their sleeve, but I'd bet on it being more hype.

Re:what about how Wulfram Alpha is not useful? (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069796)

For very narrow queries, where you already know ahead of time Wulfram Alpha supports it, you can get useful structured information out of it. For example, if you look up a first name or surname, you can get information on popularity and geographic distribution and such. But the only time I've ever gotten useful information like that is when I already knew that it supported a particular kind of query. That's less like a search engine, and more like just querying a database. There have always been special-purpose databases on the internet where you can look up specific information, once you know that such a database exists for a particular kind of fact. What Alpha utterly fails to do is answer any useful proportion of queries without already knowing in advance exactly what you need to query and what syntax to use when doing so.

Surely that's precisely the point of including Alpha's results in Bing (a plain old search engine). If users don't think Alpha will support a query, they'll usually just search the web hoping someone has answered a similar question before on a forum somewhere. Net result, not many people use Alpha because they don't know what it supports so they usually go straight to the plain old search engine instead. But if a plain old search engine can push suitable queries to Alpha, then you've actually got something useful -- if Alpha doesn't support the query then the user gets web search results and is no worse off (they don't have to repeat their query in a different engine, prejudices against Bing aside), and if it does support it they've probably got a better result.

Won't necessarily "beat Google", of course, but it does seem to be a sensible combination.

And hey, at least some marketing types are happy because they got to use the word "synergy" in a lot of meetings!

It answers the most important questions though. (5, Funny)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069870)

Why are you so hard on W|A? Wolfram Alpha answers LOTS of extremely important questions!

Query: What is the speed of an unladen swallow?
Answer: "there is unfortunately insufficient data to estimate the velocity of an African swallow (even if you specified which of the 47 species of swallow found in Africa you meant)" [wolframalpha.com]

Query: What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?
Answer: 42 [wolframalpha.com]

Query: Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
Answer: Not sure, but wherever she is, it isn't here. [wolframalpha.com]

Query: When is judgement day?
Answer: "2:14 am EDT | Friday, August 29, 1997" [wolframalpha.com]

Query: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound??
Answer: "No. Sound is vibration, transmitted to our senses through the mechanism of the ear, and recognized as sound only at our nerve centers. The falling of the tree or any other disturbance will produce vibration of the air. If there be no ears to hear, there will be no sound." [wolframalpha.com]

Query: Can entropy be reversed?
Answer: "THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER." [wolframalpha.com]

Query: who would win in a fight: pirates or ninjas?
Answer: "The answer remains an ongoing debate which Wolfram|Alpha is not in a position to arbitrate." [wolframalpha.com]

Re:It answers the most important questions though. (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070030)

Fact: Everything I say is fiction.

That's a lie. In fact, I can prove that your last post was full of proven facts!

Re:It answers the most important questions though. (1)

graffitirock (1481313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070080)

It passed the `favourite color' question, too.

Re:It answers the most important questions though. (1)

2Bits (167227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070228)

I don't know what is more pathetic, that you actually bothered to go ask those questions on WA, or that I went to WA trying to confirm that everything you said is fiction? Either case, we both have too much time on hands.

"Dr Wolfram". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069668)

That will be the number one Bing search result when asking the question "Who is the smartest man in the whole wide world?"...

one power more than Google (1)

codename.matrix (889422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069684)

So Microsoft wants to compute 2^2^2^2^2 because Google can only do 2^2^2^2 [google.com] ? Yeah right, that will help them get more users.

so much worse than one power more than Google (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069768)

bing says 2^2^2^2^2 = 65536 [bing.com]

google says 2^2^2^2 = 65535 [google.com]

Which one is right??

Re:so much worse than one power more than Google (1)

Icaarus (1499831) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069956)

Dir? just redid the Google one, and it said 65536. Also did you not notice that 65535 is odd, in other words not divisible by 2. Therefore reading fail?

Re:so much worse than one power more than Google (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070008)

They add parenthesis in opposite fashion, so they are both right. I don't know which one I would consider more intuitive.

bing: 2^2 = 4 ^ 2 = 16 ^ 2= 256 ^ 2 = 65536

google: 2^2 = 4. 2 ^ (2 ^ 2) = 2 ^ 4 = 16. 2 ^ (2 ^ ( 2 ^ 2)) = 2 ^ (16) = 65536

Re:so much worse than one power more than Google (3, Interesting)

erayd (1131355) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070010)

Google is correct, because it actually evaluates the expression properly. Bing just parses it left to right.

Google: 2^2^2^2 = 2^(2^(2^2)) = 65,536
Bing: 2^2^2^2 = ((2^2)^2)^2 = 256

Clearly, bing doesn't understand basic math.

What this means is... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069694)

...Wolfie needs Mula.

Sounds great but... (5, Insightful)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069740)

Wolfram Alpha is well known to badly guess what you are trying to do, and has plenty of graphs and charts. Now add a liberal amount of Microsoft flavoring to it, and you have a cross between Clippy and a really bad PowerPoint presentation... let's hope Microsoft never tries to help "improve" WA.

Best of breed hype engine (1)

xixax (44677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069864)

LOL. I'll bet a dollar that this is more or less how the two go about creating a new standard in hype engines.

Xix.

Yes But, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069746)

Can it tell us the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Re:Yes But, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069844)

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=air+speed+velocity+of+an+unladen+swallow [wolframalpha.com]

Assuming estimated average cruising airspeed of an unladen African swallow | Use estimated average cruising airspeed of an unladen European swallow instead

"there is unfortunately insufficient data to estimate the velocity of an African swallow (even if you specified which of the 47 species of swallow found in Africa you meant) (asked, but not answered, about a general swallow in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail)"

I just asked bing: (3, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069786)

How can the suckiness of Microsoft be reversed? It said:

THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER

This wolfram thing might be working out after all.

So smart, it guesses wrong for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30069800)

And the results will be presented by ...Clippy.

When will Micro$oft realize that most users don't WANT Microsoft to do their thinking for them? Just get out of my way and do what I say. Like, I dunno, maybe Google?

Google goes Beta, Bing goes Alpha! (0, Redundant)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30069854)

Beat that Google Muhahahahahaha

Other Microsoft News Has Me Wondering (1)

The Wooden Badger (540258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070050)

How long will it take Microsoft to try to patent complex computational searches?

Computing What? (1)

kyc (984418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070084)

What can a search engine possibly compute anything other than the ridiculous 2^2^2^2...?

Who would type that question to a search engine anyway? No, no, Microsoft is confused, you use Mathematica 7.0 for that kind of computation.

The best today's idiotic search engines could possibly hope to do is to add/subtract some numbers, provide unit/currency conversions and that's all. Google is already doing all that.

Unless Bing servers are some clever cousins of HAL, adding some funky math skills to them won't do a bit of a difference. It's a loooong shot before the search engine actually gathers unrelated information and connects it to the actual query, doing some useful computation in between.

Sorry Microsoft, this doesn't fly.

Interesting (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070114)

Bing may incorporate some Wolfram Alpha functionality - but if you "search the web" from Wolfram Alpha's website, it sends you to Google.

Winston Churchill's Father - Google vs Bing (0)

BayaWeaver (1048744) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070124)

Simple query of a well-known statesman. Google gets it right with its very first response. Bing doesn't seem to know what I want. Alpha doesn't have a clue.

Google 1 - Bing 0

Bing and Alpha have a lot of catching up to do. And Google doesn't blink even when I get the spelling wrong as in "Winston Chrchill's Father"

Wolfram Alpha, or how i tried to hype Bing? (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070130)

Wolfram Alpha is an interesting research concept but really not a product thats even remotely ready for daily use. There are some areas where online search could be improved and where Microsoft could be better than others. For example, why not create an error message / log message search function ? That alone would drive people to Bing in droves.

Microsoft should stop and think about what information they have themselves thats interesting and how they can index it for easy use. Right now their own support sites are a total nightmare because of their utter crap of a search function.

Come on people (1)

tengeta (1594989) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070148)

Its interesting, I'll give it that much.

Wolfram Alpha's got Memes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070316)

Fairly suprised at how good that Wolfram database is. Typed in "what are all your base?" and it correctly replied "Belong to us".

Memetastic.

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