Wolfram Alpha is an astonishingly powerful piece of software that helps you find nearly any piece of factual information you could want.Sounds an awful lot like Google, doesn’t it? It’s actually an entirely different monster.
Here’s the distinction: where Google looks externally to find what it thinks you want, Wolfram Alpha looks within. It’s a self-contained program that you access over the Internet or with the mobile app, crunching facts the same way a computer crunches numbers.
It does this by piping in loads of information from all over the place — everything from every weather data point ever collected to the chemical structure of nearly every compound to the names of the notes in a D minor chord. It’s not so much a search engine as it is a “knowledge engine.”
Its value has even been recognised by Apple, who integrated some of Wolfram Alpha’s basic functionality with Siri to give factual answers to the user’s questions.
Wolfram Alpha is the brainchild of Stephen Wolfram, a British scientist who is attempting to make knowledge “computable.” By creating software that can sift through the most basic pieces of factual information, an unbelievable world of possibility opens up.
In its simplest form, Wolfram Alpha attempts to be the best “knowledge engine” for questions with a quantitative, factual answer.
But the larger concept behind Wolfram Alpha is much more powerful than that — it literally attempts to unify the sum of human knowledge.