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Re: comments on Wolfram Alpha

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  • Subject: [mg100344] Re: comments on Wolfram Alpha
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnews at>
  • Date: Mon, 1 Jun 2009 07:10:38 -0400 (EDT)

On 5/31/09 at 6:37 AM, beliavsky at (Beliavsky) wrote:

>input: arima
>output: Arima,Trinidad and Tobago
>city population | 34997 people
>my comment: Nothing about ARIMA time series models, which comes up as
>the 3rd link on Google.

Wolfram|Alpha is clearly not Google and is clearly not intended
as a Google replacement. Since Google is not doing anything to
determine the meaning of what you type as a search term, there
is no difficulty in returning links to quite different results.
All that is needed for Google to do its thing is that others
have used the same search term to link to the things you are
interested in.

But Wolfram|Alpha is trying to parse your input and extract
meaning. Obviously, when you input a single term as you did
above, there is essentially nothing to give context and provide
meaning. And when it could be as either an acronym or a city
name, Wolfram|Alpha clearly must make a choice in order to
return any result.

Additionally, not all possible meanings for a given term will be
available to Wolfram|Alpha yet and may never be available.
Wolfram|Alpha is dependent on what is in the databases it can
access. It is likely impossible for it to associate a term with
a meaning not currently in one of the databases it can access.

>Wolfram Alpha appears much less useful than the combination of Google
>and Mathematica, so I wonder if resources are better spent adding
>functionality to Mathematica.

The degree to which Wolfram|Alpha is less useful than the
combination of Mathematica and Google depends on the type of
information you are looking for and the type of questions you
pose. And this will certainly change as Wolfram|Alpha evolves.

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