Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My conversation with Alpha

I tried out Wolfram's Alpha this morning. First, something technical and mathematical as it suggests:

Where are the tidal phase singularities?
> Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input. ...

The same search on Google not only brings up links to maps but also brings up the scanned and OCR pages from Winfree's book -- via Google books -- where I got the phrase! Google is amazing.


Why should I use wolfram alpha?
> Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input.

The same search on Google came up with the pages on Wolfram's own site and many more reviews.


Why is Stephen Wolfram so cocky?

> Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input. ... person: Stephen Wolfram ... chemical element: element Wolfram

Tungsten (according to Wiki) is also called "Wolfram" which is why it has the the chemical symbol "W", but nowhere on Wolfram's summary page about Tungsten does it mention this. If you do this same search on Google the first hit is a Slashdot article about the outrageous TOS on alpha that's only *16 hours* old! Google continues to amaze.


How big of an ego does Stephen Wolfram have?

> Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input. ...

The same search on Google returns all kinds of hits from book reviews and whatnot complaining about his inflated ego.


All joking aside, I did like its stock summary page (one of its suggested searches). When you do ask it about something it knows does present a very well formatted result with lots of good technical information. But the TOS is absurd.

2 comments:

Edward said...

"Why is Stephen Wolfram so cocky?
... If you do this same search on Google the first hit is a Slashdot article about the outrageous TOS on alpha that's only *16 hours* old! Google continues to amaze."

Yes, but if you do the same search _now_ on Google, the first hit is your *2 hour* old blog!!! Ah, google...wow.

The alpha TOS is horrifying, given Google's utter lack of concern with such things. I think that means I won't be using alpha much, even if it improves dramatically.

flash and zak said...

Ha! Love it.