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Wolfram's Search Goal: Compute All


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Stephen Wolfram

WolframAlpha "can take the knowledge that humans have accumulated and can make the whole thing computable," inventor Stephen Wolfram says.

Credit: mccullagh.org

Stephen Wolfram has set the ambitious goal of converting the global corpus of knowledge into a computable format through WolframAlpha.com, a computational knowledge engine rather than a search engine. WolframAlpha.com computes data and frequently renders query results into lists, charts, and graphs. "You get to ask WolframAlpha specific questions and it provides specific answers, rather than asking about some general topic and expecting it will do what search engines do, giving you a bunch of links about that topic," Wolfram says.

Wolfram estimates that WolframAlpha can currently answer users' questions with more than 75 percent accuracy, and the system's linguistic comprehension capabilities are steadily improving.

Wolfram says the long-term goal for WolframAlpha is to make as much globally accumulated knowledge computable as possible. One avenue being explored is the ability to upload one's own data to WolframAlpha and have it perform analysis on that data. "Another direction we are just starting to play with . . .  is being able to invent on the fly," Wolfram says.

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