Wolfram Alpha: Second-Hand Impressions

March 19, 2009
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Regular readers may not be surprised that my commentary on the Wolfram Alpha pre-launch publicity didn’t earn me a hands-on preview–though it did earn me a surprisingly positive email from their PR department. But fortunately I have my sources, and one of them was kind enough to share reactions to demo of the system.

His impressions in brief:

  • He’s impressed with the technology, though dubious that they have a business model.
  • Their knowledge base incorporates 10 trillion “facts” (RDF triples) derived from curated sources.
  • They focus on factual and numerically oriented queries, as opposed to fuzzier semantic ones…


Regular readers may not be surprised that my commentary on the Wolfram Alpha pre-launch publicity didn’t earn me a hands-on preview–though it did earn me a surprisingly positive email from their PR department. But fortunately I have my sources, and one of them was kind enough to share reactions to demo of the system.

His impressions in brief:

  • He’s impressed with the technology, though dubious that they have a business model.
  • Their knowledge base incorporates 10 trillion “facts” (RDF triples) derived from curated sources.
  • They focus on factual and numerically oriented queries, as opposed to fuzzier semantic ones.
  • Their engine is based on the approach described in NKS.
  • Their presentation interface reminds him of Wikipedia’s infoboxes.

My reaction: still intrigued, still skeptical. It sounds like a great toy, but a toy nonetheless. But I’ll try to keep an open mind until I get to play with it myself.

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