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WolframAlpha
Wolfram Alpha December 2016.svg
Type of site
Answer engine
OwnerWolframAlpha LLC
Created byWolfram Research
URLwww.wolframalpha.com
CommercialYes
RegistrationOptional
LaunchedMay 18, 2009; 13 years ago (2009-05-18)[1] (official launch)
May 15, 2009 (2009-05-15)[2] (public launch)
Current statusActive
Written inWolfram Language

WolframAlpha (/ˈwʊlf.rəm-/ WUULf-rəm-) is an answer engine developed by Wolfram Research.[3] It answers factual queries by computing answers from externally sourced data.[4][5]

WolframAlpha was released on May 18, 2009 and is based on Wolfram's earlier product Wolfram Mathematica, a technical computing platform.[1] WolframAlpha gathers data from academic and commercial websites such as the CIA's The World Factbook, the United States Geological Survey, a Cornell University Library publication called All About Birds, Chambers Biographical Dictionary, Dow Jones, the Catalogue of Life,[3] CrunchBase,[6] Best Buy,[7] and the FAA to answer queries.[8] A Spanish version was launched in 2022.[9]

Technology

Overview

Users submit queries and computation requests via a text field. WolframAlpha then computes answers and relevant visualizations from a knowledge base of curated, structured data that come from other sites and books. It is able to respond to particularly phrased natural language fact-based questions. It displays its "Input interpretation" of such a question, using standardized phrases. Mathematical symbolism can also be parsed by the engine, which responds with numerical and statistical results.

Development

WolframAlpha is written in the Wolfram Language, a general multi-paradigm programming language, and implemented in Mathematica, that is proprietary and not commonly used by developers.[10]

Usage

WolframAlpha was used to power some searches in the Microsoft Bing and DuckDuckGo search engines but is no longer used to provide search results.[11][12] For factual question answering, WolframAlpha was previously used by Apple's Siri and Amazon Alexa for math and science queries but is no longer operational within those services.[13][14] WolframAlpha data types were available beginning in July 2020 using Microsoft Excel, but the Microsoft-Wolfram partnership ended in favor of Microsoft Power Query data types.[15] WolframAlpha functionality in Microsoft Excel is deprecated in June 2023.[16]

History

Launch preparations began on May 15, 2009 at 7 p.m. CDT and were broadcast live on Justin.tv. The plan was to publicly launch the service a few hours later. However, there were issues due to extreme load. The service was officially launched on May 18, 2009,[17] receiving mixed reviews.[18][19] In 2009, Wolfram Alpha advocates pointed to its potential, some even stating that how it determines results is more important than current usefulness.[18] WolframAlpha was initially launched as free, but later WolframAlpha attempted monetizing the service by launching an iOS application with a cost of $50, while the website itself was free.[20] That plan was abandoned after criticism.[21]

On February 8, 2012, WolframAlpha Pro was released,[22] offering users additional features for a monthly subscription fee.[22][23]

WolframAlpha is used by some high-school and college students to cheat on math homework, though the company says the service helps students understand math with its problem-solving capabilities.[24]

Copyright claims

InfoWorld published an article warning readers of the potential implications of giving an automated website proprietary rights to the data it generates.[25] Free software advocate Richard Stallman also opposes the idea of recognizing the site as a copyright holder and suspects that Wolfram would not be able to make this case under existing copyright law.[26]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b The Wolfram|Alpha Launch Team (May 8, 2009). "So Much for A Quiet Launch". Wolfram|Alpha Blog. Wolfram Alpha. Retrieved February 9, 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ The Wolfram|Alpha Launch Team (May 12, 2009). "Going Live—and Webcasting It". Wolfram|Alpha Blog. Wolfram Alpha. Retrieved February 9, 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b Bobbie Johnson (May 21, 2009). "Where does Wolfram Alpha get its information?". The Guardian. Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  4. ^ "About Wolfram|Alpha: Making the World's Knowledge Computable". wolframalpha.com. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  5. ^ Johnson, Bobbie (March 9, 2009). "British search engine 'could rival Google'". The Guardian. UK: Guardian News and Media. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  6. ^ Dillet, Romain (September 7, 2012). "Wolfram Alpha Makes CrunchBase Data Computable Just In Time For Disrupt SF". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  7. ^ Golson, Jordan (December 16, 2011). "Wolfram Delivers Siri-Enabled Shopping Results From Best Buy". MacRumors. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  8. ^ Barylick, Chris (November 19, 2011). "Wolfram Alpha search engine now tracks flight paths, trajectory information". Engadget. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  9. ^ "Wolfram Alpha Spanish Announcement". Wolfram Alpha. Wolfram Research. Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  10. ^ "TIOBE Index". TIOBE. Retrieved October 6, 2022.
  11. ^ Krazit, Tom (August 21, 2009). "Bing strikes licensing deal with Wolfram Alpha". CNET. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  12. ^ The Wolfram|Alpha Team (April 18, 2011). "Wolfram|Alpha and DuckDuckGo Partner on API Binding and Search Integration". Wolfram|Alpha Blog. Wolfram Alpha. Retrieved February 9, 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ "Alexa gets access to Wolfram Alpha's knowledge engine". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  14. ^ "Alexa Can Now Answer Those Tricky Math Questions". News18. December 26, 2018.
  15. ^ "Excel Data Types with Wolfram End of Support FAQ". support.microsoft.com. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  16. ^ "Microsoft is killing Money in Excel along with Wolfram Alpha data types". XDA. May 31, 2022. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  17. ^ "Wolfram 'search engine' goes live". BBC News. May 18, 2009. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  18. ^ a b Spivack, Nova (March 7, 2009). "Wolfram Alpha is Coming – and It Could be as Important as Google". Nova Spivack – Minding the Planet. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  19. ^ Singel, Ryan (May 18, 2009). "Wolfram|Alpha Fails the Cool Test". Wired. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  20. ^ "Nice Try, Wolfram Alpha. Still Not Paying $50 For Your App". TechCrunch. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  21. ^ "Nice Try, Wolfram Alpha. Still Not Paying $50 For Your App". TechCrunch. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  22. ^ a b Wolfram, Stephen (February 8, 2012). "Announcing Wolfram|Alpha Pro". Wolfram|Alpha Blog. Wolfram Alpha. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  23. ^ "Step-by-Step Math".
  24. ^ Biddle, Pippa. "AI Is Making It Extremely Easy for Students to Cheat | Backchannel". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved October 6, 2022.
  25. ^ Stallman, Richard (August 4, 2009). "How Wolfram Alpha's Copyright Claims Could Change Software". Access 2 Knowledge (Mailing list). Archived from the original on April 28, 2013. Retrieved February 17, 2012.