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Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Wolfram promises new way to probe the web - maybe?

Photo of Stephen Wolfram from Google Images.

The Business Herald for Friday May 29, 2009 featured the new database "WolframAlpha" launched two weeks ago. The column by Anthony Doesburg says that 'this is a new way to interact with knowledge and information'. Users are encouraged to test drive this new search engine, so that is what I did.

I used the following questions related to international trade:

· What is the WTO?
· What is the Doha Round?
· How much butter is exported from NZ?
· What are NZ’s major exports?
· What is a letter of credit?
· What is the major export of the USA?

It only managed an answer for two of them – it told me that WTO stood for World Trade Organization – well maybe my question wasn’t phrased well (?) And it told me that NZ’s major exports were dairy, fish, machinery, meat, wood! Not sure what machinery this is!

For all the other questions it replied: ‘WA is not sure what to do with your input’. Maybe it will improve over time, but certainly at the present it is not very useful in spite of the examples given in Doesburg's article.

Has anyone had better results than this? Look at www.wolframalpha.com


Alison said...

Graeme - we don't need Wolfram, we've got you - the man who can find out anything and everything!

Graeme said...

What can you do with Wolfram Alpha? Called a "computational knowledge engine," this search tool can be used to save time costs involved in creating your reports. For example, when looking for company financials, use Wolfram Alpha, because it returns results in a handy table that can be copied and easily revised for your use. It's a fast way to make comparisons and display results in a visually appealing way. (Thanks to Mary Ellen Bates for this tip)
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