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Wolfram Alpha Launch Draws Near

Launch Will Be Broadcast Live

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Update: Wolfram Alpha said Tuesday on a company Web site that it plans to begin broadcasting the run-up to its public unveiling Friday evening, including "behind-the-scenes views."

"We’ve been rather surprised that we haven’t been able to find even a single publicly available record of the commissioning of any large website," Wolfram Alpha said. "So we thought we would document our own experience." (via MarketWatch)

Original Article: Wolfram Alpha began generating hype a couple months ago. It was referred to as a new way of searching and a "knowledge engine" that allows users to ask questions and receive a single, definitive answer rather than a page of results pointing to pages that may or may not have the answer (like Google does).

Wolfram Alpha, built by Stephen Wolfram (of Mathematica fame) has been dubbed a Google killer by some, and the notion has of course been debated by many. Either way, it is seeing some heavy coverage in the news again, as its official launch draws near.

Wolfram doesn’t see it as a Google Killer. "I am not keen on the hype," the New York Times quotes him as saying, also noting that Wolfram Alpha will not help with things like movie showtimes or camera shopping.

Wolfram Alpha

Unlike other answers sites, the answers from Wolfram Alpha will not be retrieved from a database, and unlike what search engines are trying to do, they will not be retrieved based on natural language. They will be retrieved through math and science. Wolfram explains on his blog:

 Stephen WolframWell, some people have thought the way forward must be to somehow automatically understand the natural language that exists on the web. Perhaps getting the web semantically tagged to make that easier.

    But armed with Mathematica and NKS I realized there’s another way: explicitly implement methods and models, as algorithms, and explicitly curate all data so that it is immediately computable…

    …I wasn’t at all sure it was going to work. But I’m happy to say that with a mixture of many clever algorithms and heuristics, lots of linguistic discovery and linguistic curation, and what probably amount to some serious theoretical breakthroughs, we’re actually managing to make it work.

Wolfram has said that the project will be a never-ending work in progress. It will likely not come out of the box perfect, and will probably not ever be so. But will it live up to the hype that it has created?

We’ll find out soon enough. If you visit the site, it still says "Launching in May," but the date according to Gizmodo is May 18th – next week.

Wolfram Alpha Launch Draws Near
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