Unlike Bing or Google, Wolfram Alpha does not actually forage the Web. It tries to cull information from its own meticulously curated database to come up with answers. Its goal is to make all kinds of systematic knowledge immediately computable and available to all. Its researchers make constant innovations with regular data updates to countless sources and improvements to its natural-language parser, new data sets and functionality. The formal name of this computational knowledge engine’s new version is ‘Wolfram Alpha Pro, and Dr’.
Personalized search interactions
Described as ‘the next step of what can be done with a unique search approach’, this new version can capably handle both data and images. With an enhancement of functionality, users can personalize their interactions thanks to a unique of combination of algorithms, data representation and presentation tools, termed a major step towards computational knowledge.
Unique way to understand text queries
Wolfram Alpha can produce color-coded bar charts to be downloaded in different tabulated formats, chart and brief summaries and quick inferences. This is just a beginning to traverse an uncharted territory as Dr. Wolfram explains, “But we are starting to have the ability so as to understand data and images in the very way we understand text queries.”
Its text understanding ability has steadily advanced, with more and more subject domains gradually added. They go well beyond the service’s origins built on the Mathematica (a popular math-formula software generated by Dr. Wolfram) knowledge base.
Vision of the Wolfram inventor
Dr. Stephen Wolfram, an entrepreneur, scientist and software designer – all rolled in one – published at 15his first physics paper, got his doctorate at 20from the California Institute of Technology and won a MacArthur award two years later. About three years ago, he built a new kind of search engine. When Wolfram Alpha was started, initially there was skepticism. Critics felt the approach was very constrained, useful mainly for science and math facts. But since then the technology has indeed come a long way. It delivers competent answers for, the Apple iPhone 4S question-answering personal assistant, Siri.
The subjects in its database are now far more useful even to the layperson. If you key in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy showtimes’, for example, from the US, it will deliver elaborate schedule for local theaters. Here, the movie times do not originate from scouring the Web world; they actually come from a highly specialized information service.
Siri now accounts for almost a quarter of total queries fielded by the engine, having a staff of over 200. Many large companies in the field of healthcare, oil & natural gas, financial services etc have recently approached his private search and research facility, for customized corporate versions of Wolfram Alpha.