WolframAlpha, Google Killer it is Not, but Still Kinda Cool


Whenever someone creates a search engine the very first things out of someone’s mouth is, “its a Google Killer.” Sad to say, for those who want a Google Killer, this ain’t it. Be that as it may, I have been fooling around with the Wolfram Alpha search engine for some time now and in many ways I am impressed.

First, interface. I like the output pages a lot. I like how it gives you an interpretation of what you wrote since it allows you to see what you screwed up if the search fails… and fail you will.

The hardest part I hear some people have is getting use to the search query. Well honestly, this is not the type of search engine you will use to grab web sites. It is however, a search engine to grab facts. Such as if you type July 1 Canada, Wolfram Alpha will send you back things such as the format for the date, time difference between today and July 1st, sunrise/sunset times for Ottawa, Canadian holidays for the 1st, etc.

But if I type in something such as “how to make chicken soup,” I get an error. If I type that same line in Google, the first return I get is WikiHow, How to Make Chicken Soup: 10 steps. However, if I type in “canned chunky chicken soup” into WolframAlpha I get the average nutrition content of all canned chunky chicken soups, WolframAlpha has in its database.

Wolfram is meant to be a search engine for all factual data in the world. I read recently that it doesn’t handle sports. So I put it to the test. How will I test for factual data for sports? Easy I will ask for baseball stats, if there is any game more meticulous or analytical on its stat keeping than baseball I haven’t heard of it. I typed in Babe Ruth average ERA (since he was a pitcher at the beginning of his career) and I got nothing. I typed in Babe Ruth homeruns still nothing. I typed in just Babe Ruth and I got back his full name, date and place of birth, and date and place of death.

But type in Internet users and it will spit back the estimated total amount of Internet users in the world, the country with the most and the country with the least among other things.

Wolfram won’t be able to tell you who hit more than 30 homeruns in 1947, but it can solve a variety of mathematic equations. Likewise it won’t be able to tell you how to cook chicken soup, but it will tell you the average nutritional information of it. Wolfram is pretty cool for fooling around, but in its current state it remains nothing more than an idle curiosity.

To have a stab at it yourself go here

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