Wolfram Alpha was always intended to be a question-answering
system. Although Alpha does some search, it does less search
and more computation than Google does. It's better to call
it a Q/A system than a search engine.
The reason why Alpha is interesting to ontolog forum is that
it uses a collection of domain-specific ontologies. However,
they are not planning to make those ontologies widely available.
(At least, they have not said that they are going to do so, but
it's possible that they might release some of them.)
> Seems like Wolfram got the requirements from Ontolog face
> to face summit (NIST). Especially the unit conversion!
The Mathematica system, which has been commercially available
(for licensing) for over 20 years, has always done unit
conversions. Note that Stephen Wolfram was a professor
of physics. He knows
the importance of unit conversions.
For more information about Mathematica, see the demos on
their web site: http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/random.html
Click on any of the diagrams on that web page to get a demo
of an application that uses the current Mathematica product
to do the computation. When you click on the diagram, you
will get a new page with a bigger copy:
1. Click on the green phrase "watch web preview>>"
2. If you like that example, you can click "DOWNLOAD LIVE
VERSION" so that you can change the parameters yourself.
3. If you want to see the actual Mathematica definitions,
click on "SHOW SOURCE CODE". Note that the source code
is actually fairly readable compared to typical
4. If you click "DOWNLOAD SOURCE CODE NOTEBOOK", you get a
file with the actual source code. If you click "Get
Mathematica 7 Player Free", you can get a free copy
of the engine that executes the code in the notebook.
The Alpha system contains a collection of Mathematica
"notebooks". The code in each notebook is based on an
implicit ontology for the subject, and it does whatever
computation is required.
Any English question you type into Alpha is analyzed in terms
of a "template", from which the data is extracted and sent to
a notebook for further processing. The result of that processing
is the answer to your question.
This is far more computation than Google does. If you learn
something about Mathematica, then it will be much easier to
understand what Wolfram says in his
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