PODCAST: About the Mathematical WOLFRAM ALPHA Computational Knowledge Engine

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What it is – How it works


[By Staff Reporters]

Wolfram Alpha is an online mathematical search engine launched in March 2009 and developed by Stephen Wolfram. It seeks to answer factual queries directly by computing the answer from structured data, rather than providing a list of web pages that might contain the answer.

In this way, WA differs from traditional semantic search engines, which index a large number of answers and then try to match the question to one. Wolfram Alpha has many parallels with Cyc, a project aimed since the 1980s at developing a common-sense inference engine. Wolfram Alpha is built on Wolfram’s earlier flagship product, Mathematica, which encompasses computer algebra, symbolic and numerical computation, visualization, and statistics capabilities.

With Mathematica running in the background, WA is suited to answer mathematical questions. The answer usually presents a human-readable solution.

Link: http://www.wolframalpha.com/


Wolfram Alpha is written in about 5 million lines of Mathematica (using webMathematica and gridMathematica) code and runs on 10,000 CPUs. As well as being a web site, Wolfram Alpha provides an API (for a fee) that delivers computational answers to other applications. One such application is the Bing search engine.


As an example, one can input the name of a website, and it will return relevant information about the site, including its location, site rank, number of visitors and more. The database currently includes hundreds of datasets, including current and historical weather, drug data, star charts, currency conversion, and many others. The datasets have been accumulated over approximately two years, and are expected to continue to grow. The range of questions that can be answered is also expected to grow with the expansion of the datasets.

Audio: http://www.wolframalpha.com/screencast/introducingwolframalpha.html

Utility and Usefulness

Wolfram Alpha is ideal for use by all readers and subscribers of the ME-P. It may be used by doctors, nurses, financial advisors and insurance agents, economists, mathematicians, editors, and publishers, teachers and students of all academic levels. The graphical nature of output is particularly helpful.


Wolfram Alpha has received mixed reviews, to date. Advocates point to its potential, some even stating that how it determines output result is more important than current usefulness.

Note: Info courtesy wikipedia.org

PODCAST: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=stephen+wolfram&docid=608027542444182789&mid=7432EA16AEF1CDF4FCDD7432EA16AEF1CDF4FCDD&view=detail&FORM=VIRE


And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Give Wolfram Alpha a click, listen to the audio-cast, and tell us what you think. Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com


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9 Responses

  1. Dear ME-P,

    Many thanks for alerting us to this unique resource. It is a useful tool for my graduate and business school students.

    Professor Klembach


  2. This is too cool – for school.



  3. Interactive Main Page for Wolfram Alpha

    You know how much I admire WolframAlpha and how often I use it for medical search queries.


    Now they have an amazing, interactive main page with a lot of medical examples including tooth #31; check it out.

    Dr. Salizar


  4. An Alternative to WA?

    Check out http://www.FastFig.com



  5. Wolfram Alpha

    I am a CS major at a leading university. And, the Wolfram Alpha computational engine is far superior; just saying.



  6. Stephen Wolfram on Personal Analytics

    The British-born physicist and software CEO is perhaps one of the most quantified people on the planet, with over three decades’ worth of data about his day-to-day life to crunch through.


    Dr. David Marcinko MBA


  7. THANK YOU – Stephen!


  8. In his 2005 essay “A Short Talk about Richard Feynman,” the British-American computer scientist, physicist, and businessman, Stephen Wolfram makes the following remarks about Feynman:

    “Some scientists (myself probably included) are driven by the ambition to build grand intellectual edifices. I think Feynman – at least in the years I knew him – was much more driven by the pure pleasure of actually doing the science. He seemed to like best to spend his time figuring things out and calculating. And he was a great calculator. All around perhaps the best human calculator there’s ever been… I always found it incredible. He would start with some problem, and fill up pages with calculations. And at the end of it, he would actually get the right answer! But he usually wasn’t satisfied with that. Once he’d gotten the answer, he’d go back and try to figure out why it was obvious.”

    via Marco Tavora Ph.D


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