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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wolfram Alpha takes search engines to a whole new level

So as you can see from the screen capture on the right, I couldn't resist having a little fun with it. But all joviality aside, Wolfram Alpha might be the hugest leap forward in search engine technology since Google debuted more than ten years ago.

Calling itself a "computational knowledge engine", Wolfram Alpha takes your query and then instead of trying to match it up with a best result, it computes an answer from a vast base of structured data. Ask it "2+2" and it will give you 4. Punch in some quadratic equations or other advanced math and Wolfram Alpha will spit out a bunch of graphs for it. Tell Wolfram Alpha "Greensboro, North Carolina" and it will give you a map of the town's location, the population, average elevation from sea level and some other relevant data. Ask for the weather in a certain place on the day that you were born and Wolfram Alpha will tell you that too. And those are just for openers: you wouldn't believe what Wolfram Alpha can do with a string of notations for nucleic acids and how it'll find 'em in the human genome, among other things.

Wolfram Alpha is open for public "testing" this weekend, before it officially launches tomorrow. Give it a whirl! This is definitely the future of Internet searching.