Mathematica 8 and Alpha integration....

• To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
• Subject: [mg113945] Mathematica 8 and Alpha integration....
• From: Jason Ledbetter <jasonbrent at gmail.com>
• Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2010 05:07:27 -0500 (EST)

```First, I'm excited about this integration. I'm excited about the natural
language capabilities.

I'm not sure how this practice mixes with reality, however.

1) Taking the first example from Wolfram's blog, one can ask alpha "=plot x
sin^3x" then follow that up with "=add black frame". Yet it can't comprehend
"remove black frame"....

So I try "change frame to blue" and alpha returns an input interpretation of
"Show[%, Frame->True, FrameStyle->Pink]". Pink? Really? I guess it made up
an answer because it stated Alpha doesn't yet know how to respond to the
query.

I'm beginning to wonder if I don't need documentation on what "natural
language" Mathematica 8/Alpha actually knows....

2) I can ask Mathematica 8/alpha "=average 1,2,3,4,5" and get Mean[{1,...}] back with a
result of 3. Great.

However, one can't say "a={1,2,3,4,5}" and "=average a".

There seems to be this line drawn in the interaction between notebook and
it's variables and what is passed to alpha.

Are the details of this interaction and the capabilities documented
anywhere?

Is there something one needs to do to "convert a" to something Alpha can
understand other than just using the raw input numbers again?

3) I'm not sure CTRL= does anything.

Entering "average 1,2,3,4,5" does give me a result that I'd expect similar
to #2 but entering "average a" as defined in #2 gives me "no mathematica
translations".... i'm under the (potentially false) impression that CTRL= is
more "local" than just =.

I'm thinking that "natural language" is a good idea, but not if the speaker
has to reduce his vocabulary and the expectations of that vocabulary to meet
what the product does.

Two possibilities I see:

A) I'm expecting too much.
B) It will get there sometime later.

Which results in:

Expecting to use Alpha integration for anything more than pulling data from
their curated databases is going to be a failure in the current version.

thoughts?

-jbl

```

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