Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WolframAlpha Overview and Tutorial

The new "search engine" is live, and it is awesome. However, there are several conditions I must make to that statement. First, I say "search engine" loosely, as essentially it is a data aggregation, evaluation, computation, and display engine. Wolframalpha is not a search engine to use if you need to find, for example, this blog. Entering aproductivelife into wolframalpha will get you a big fat question mark. However, entering two names (as shown in the picture below) will get you more information than you could ever need. I am guessing the information regarding names is pulled from the US census, considering the data is from 2007. However, it has a plethora of information: name rank for 2007, historical name rank, and graphs both of the names on the same graph for easily comparable information.

Entering "weather zipcode" will bring up a large amount of information about the weather at your current zipcode, including large amounts of historical data.
As well, try entering mathematical formulas into the search box, and watch as wolframalpha does its best to solve it.
Is wolframalpha a google killer as some pundits believe? Not true in the least bit. To find information you use google. To have specific, easy to find information displayed, computed, and otherwise manipulated, use wolframalpha.
Consensus: Wolframalpha is beautiful. Use it when possible.