You’ve probably seen or heard of Wolfram Alpha – which was released in May 2009. Wolfram Alpha is an online answer engine that answers factual queries by computing the answer from structured data, rather than providing a list of documents or web pages that might contain the answer as Google would. Below is a video that overviews what Wolfram is & how it works.
I took another look to see how Wolfram was coming along. Below are a couple of searches I ran to see what would turn up – click on the links if you want to see the results – or run your own search..
Koala vs Bear – this gave me the scientific names of each, a taxonomy, biological properties and a picture of a bear (no koala). It also gave a graphical representation of the taxonomies.
Sydney, NSW, Australia to Washington, VA, USA was a much more interesting search. It gave me travel times, map, times, populations and geographic properties.
You can see a whole range of searches here.
It’s an interesting tool and it signals the way of online searching for the future. However one of the most interesting developments is that they’re developing “course assistant” apps for every major course – from elementary school to graduate school. Below are a couple of screen shots of the Algebra app – read more at the Wolfram Alpha blog.