The Internet is abuzz with the release of Wolfram|Alpha, Wolfram’s new “computational knowledge engine”. (Wolfram is the company that makes Mathematica.) So I went to try it out. It’s sort of like a search engine in that you type in queries; but it doesn’t actually search the web, it searches an (apparently huge) set of databases that it has and computes various answers and types of information based on your query. For example, I typed in my birthday (January 10, 1982) and it told me what day of the week it was, the amount of time that has passed since then (in years+months+days, in total weeks, in total days), any holidays that were observed, famous people who died/were born on that day, sunrise, sunset, and the phase of the moon. I noticed that the total number of days since my birthday was 9988—almost 10,000! So I tried typing in “January 10, 1982 + 10000 days” and sure enough, it worked: it told me that my 10,000th day of being alive will occur on Thursday, May 28, 12 days from now, when the moon will be waxing crescent and sunrise will be at 5:37 AM. Neat!

I typed in another query and it informed me that my query couldn’t be processed because Wolfram|Alpha was under too much load. Instead, it offered to show me a live video feed of the Wolfram|Alpha control room, which was amusing (just envision lots of guys sitting around in front of computers showing spiky multicolored graphs =).

About Brent

Associate Professor of Computer Science at Hendrix College. Functional programmer, mathematician, teacher, pianist, follower of Jesus.
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5 Responses to Wolfram|Alpha

  1. Matt Spencer says:

    That’s pretty awesome. But I typed in what I’m researching, and it didn’t come up with the right answer 😦

  2. Brent says:

    Matt: I think they’re working on that. Give them a month or two.

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