Wolfram | Alpha Preview

A few thousand people around the world, following the introduction of Wolfram | Alpha by way of the developer’s mailing list and blog, were treated to a pre-launch test drive. A reviewer’s ID and password crossed my screen, late Friday afternoon. I have been running queries, since.

On Monday, May 18th (Victoria Day, a civic holiday here in Canada), the computational knowledge engine goes live. For curiousity’s sake, I queried “May 18” and discovered that it was International Museum Day. W|A also, returned these results…

Date formats:
day-month-year | 18-05-2009
year-month-day | 2009-05-18
day/month/year | 18/05/2009
month/day/year | 05/18/2009
year-month-day | 2009-May-18
Julian day number | 2454970
Julian day | 138 2009
Jewish calendar | 24 Iyar, 5769 (until sunset)
Islamic calendar | 23 Jumada I, 1430 (until sunset)
Chinese lunar calendar | 24 siyue, 4706
zodiac sign | Taurus (The Bull)

Time difference from today (Saturday, May 9, 2009):
9 days from now
1 week 2 days from now
6 weekdays from now

Time in 2009:
138th day
98th weekday of 2009
21st week
2nd quarter
37.53% of 2009 elapsed, 62.47% remaining

Observances for May 18 (Canada):
Victoria Day
International Museum Day

Anniversaries for May 18, 2009:
(no major anniversaries)

Daylight information for May 18 in Winnipeg, Canada:
sunrise | 5:40 am CDT
sunset | 9:13 pm CDT
duration of daylight | 15 hours 33 minutes

Phase of the Moon:
waning crescent moon

Initial impressions…
– Under light load, it is fast. I will be very interested to learn how it performs post-launch.
– It works on the iPhone’s browser, mobile Safari. I am very pleased with that.
– There are assumptions and drill-down functions to re-direct or expand the content to enrichen the experience.
– The “Source information” link provides valuable reference and bibliographic material. I have been struck by the amount of content that is being drawn from Wolfram Research’s own archival repository. Decades worth of research, the full history, is contained in this library. Impressive. Very, very impressive.

A global reference library? Expert answers for anyone, anywhere? Scalable? I think so. Yes. We may be witnessing the emergence of the twenty-first century’s “Killer App”.

Google and IBM attempt to answer the challenge of Wolfram’s “computational knowledge engine”.

Google Crashes Wolfram Alpha Debut Party

Boom! Question Answering Engines Take Off. IBM Sets Sights On Jeopardy, Wolfram Alpha

This could get interesting.

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