The internet is all abuzz with the talk of Wolfram Alpha, which has nothing to do with anything made of tungsten. The concept (and that is all we have confirmation of, at this time) is an interesting one, from a man that has made a life of interesting theories and major breakthroughs.

from CNet News

Stephen Wolfram has a track record of scientific breakthroughs and some controversy. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Caltech in 1979 when he was 20 and has focused most of his career on probing complex systems. In 1988 he launched Mathematica, powerful computational software that has become the gold standard in its field. In 2002, Wolfram produced a 1,280-page tome, A New Kind of Science, based on a decade of exploration in cellular automata and complex systems. The book stirred up a lot of debate in scientific circles. Legendary physicist Freeman Dyson described the tome as “a case of style over substance.” (See Steven Levy’s Wired profile of Wolfram).

In May, Wolfram will unveil his latest creation, now called Wolfram Alpha. It applies his work with Mathematica and NKS (A New Kind of Science) to Web search. “All one needs to be able to do is to take questions people ask in natural language, and represent them in a precise form that fits into the computations one can do,” Wolfram said in a recent blog post. “I’m happy to say that with a mixture of many clever algorithms and heuristics, lots of linguistic discovery and linguistic curation, and what probably amount to some serious theoretical breakthroughs, we’re actually managing to make it work…It’s going to be a website: With one simple input field that gives access to a huge system, with trillions of pieces of curated data and millions of lines of algorithms,” he added.

It follows the Google principle, with a simple input box, but takes a different approach to rendering search results. Nova Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks, which developed Twine, an ambitious “interest network” Web application based on semantic Web technologies, said that Wolfram Alpha may be as “important for the Web (and the world) as Google, but for a different purpose.”

the story continues here

but, interestingly, they already have a logo!


Well, 90% of it is knocked!

Seriously, it would be good to have something that will work according to the concept that is outlined, because there are too many things that are not found when looking with Google.

Sometimes, it is simply because the search is made using a valid term or name, but it happens to be different from the name that Google ‘knows; it by.  I know I have looked for small computer parts, and been frustrated in my search, then found the parts much later, because I was looking for ‘external USB to motherboard connection’ rather than ‘PCI bracket to motherboard pins for USB’. This is the type of search that Wolfram Alpha is supposed to be good at.

Since Google is so good, and has been established, it will need to improve, but it won’t go anywhere. On the other hand, Yahoo might want to vastly improve its mail system and concentrate on ads until Mr. Ballmer gets a wild hair again.


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