Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wolfram Alpha Engine

Over the last couple of weeks, there's been plenty of talk online about a new "search engine" called Wolfram Alpha. For a lengthy and informative discussion on what it is, how it works, what it's used for and so on - check out blogger Nova Spivack's post Wolfram Alpha is Coming - and It Could be as Important as Google (But It's Completely Different).

Anyway, feeling curious, I decided to try out WA and punch in "chess" into the search field. Instead of the usual results, I got, would you believe, a rundown on what appears to be a plant specie. Bromegrass! I've never heard of it. And I can't believe that it has any relation to chess. Well, at least our avid reader Dr Kevin Bonham might appreciate that one.

Some other chessic terms with funny results are "olympiad" (looks to be a measure of time), "rook" (an animal) and the name "Fritz". Wolfram Alpha will helpfully inform you that "Fritz" is a male given name and that out of the current U.S. population, there are some 2,809 people alive today who bear this name.

I think we can conclude that while the new engine may have its niche purposes, it's not quite there yet for most of us!


Anonymous said...

I tested it with "close toolbox" but it didn't seem to understand the input! ;)

Robert Pearson said...

Hilarious--I went there yesterday and tried chess related queries as well; it couldn't tell me the World Champions, wasn't "sure what to do" with "chess openings," etc. Chess is listed as a "future topic," however.

Anonymous said...

You are trying to use it as a replacement for Google, which it isn't.