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Re: comments on Wolfram Alpha

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  • Subject: [mg100352] Re: comments on Wolfram Alpha
  • From: dbreiss at
  • Date: Mon, 1 Jun 2009 07:12:09 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <gvtmjt$gjb$>

It is important to remember that Wolfram|Alpha is, at the present, a
framework for answering calculationally-oriented questions.  And that
framework currently has access to only some databases and knowledge
areas.  In the course of time many more will be added.

But users that first approach  Wolfram|Alpha--and who see a simple
natural language input field--often expect uniform response to
questions that query arbitrary fields of knowledge.  So, it is
currently a question of the Wolfram|Alpha team getting the message out
about what are sensible exceptions that users should come to it with.

Rolling out a project of this sort is, I suspect, very complex--not
the least because most users have their key experiences with a very
different conceptual model of how to ask questions (a la Google,

As for Wofram Research's resources and how they might direct their
energies...    I hope that much of what has gone into creating more
and more curated data sets for Wolfram|Alpha  will end up being
accessible directly from Mathematica in time.  I imagine the W|A will
accelerate aspects of Mathematica's development--as well as its
acceptance as a far more general tool than most people realize it is.

Just some random thoughts....

On May 31, 6:36 am, Beliavsky <beliav... at> wrote:
> input: arima
> output: Arima,Trinidad and Tobago
>           Population:
>           city population | 34997 people
> my comment: Nothing about ARIMA time series models, which comes up as
> the 3rd link on Google.
> input: garch
> output: Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input.
>            * Did you mean:march
> my comment: nothing about GARCH time series models, widely used in
> finance
> input: united states budget deficit
> output: -$347 billion per year (US dollars per year) (2005 estimate)
> my comment: Users would want more recent data, such as the 2008
> deficit and the estimated 2009 deficit.
> 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.

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