WolframAlpha Knlowedge Engine

    By Jeremy Thursday, May 21, 2009

    A lot of online hype has been going on around the new search knowledge engine, WolframAlpha. It is a new kind of search engine that does not necessarily categorize or crawl other websites, rather it aims to "collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything" (from their FAQ).

    It only takes a few queries against this knowledge engine to really understand the power and usefulness behind it. Traditional search engines point us to other websites with potential answers to our questions and over time, we have grown accustomed to this and have modeled our search queries accordingly. Instead of entering questions like "how many men live in New Jersey" we search for "population new jersey" and hope that one of the links returned points to a website that is comprehensive enough to breakdown the population for us. With WolframAlpha, we can unlearn this habit and start asking questions again.

    Using Wolfram Alpha for Biblical Studies

    In the spirit of combining Christianity and technology, I decided to query some religious topics. Interestingly enough, more useful information could be found on Wikipedia than on WolframAlpha about the various queries I tried, but it did provide a nice display of the computable data associated with the search term.

    Jesus Christ: Not nearly as useful as Wikipedia's entry.

    Virgin Mary: These results were slightly less useful, but the link to Wikipedia is there at least.

    Nothing found for a query of Coptic Orthodox, but then again, this is a "computational knowledge engine," so its usefulness is only made evident with queries that can be calculated, such as Passover 2010 (to calculate Passover dates for 2010):

    Real Uses

    Okay, pretty cool, but the real awesomeness is in mathematical queries such as integrate ln(e^x):

    Sweet! I definitely wish I had this back when I was taking calculus.

    Combining Google with Wolfram Alpha

    So while this search engine will not be replacing Google, Yahoo! or Live Kumo search anytime soon, it is definitely a good resource when looking for calculable data. With that in mind, I thought it would be nice if there were some way of combining the power of Google and the usefulness of WolframAlpha search.

    Aha! Another FireFox Add-On to the rescue...

    Wolfram Alpha Google is an experimental FireFox Add-On that integrates Wolfram Alpha results on Google search result pages. Very nice!

    Download: Wolfram Alpha Google

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