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Who Knows? Wolfram Alpha Knows

Wolfram Alpha is very different from what we currently recognize as search engines. Wolfram Alpha is a new kind of "knowledge engine." When a question or request is entered into Wolfram Alpha, it doesn't return a list of related pages like Google does, nor is it a database of information to be searched, like Wikipedia. Wolfram Alpha understands and then computes answers to certain types of questions. It also computes relationships among things, and generates relevant content to help bring about a deeper understanding of the answer.

For example, if I enter “Dublin Ohio, Worthington Ohio,” Wolfram Alpha tells me that all of Worthington’s population resides in Franklin County, but Dublin’s is split among three counties: 86.3% in Franklin, 13.6% in Delaware, and 0.1% in Union. I learn that Dublin has 38,536 residents to Worthington’s 13,314, and a distance of 6 miles separates their geographic centers. This seems like fairly mundane information, but you can see how Wolfram Alpha could be used for more serious research, which is what it is designed for.

In the video above, creator Stephen Wolfram demonstrates the Alpha at Harvard.

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