When you type a word or a phrase in a search engine, the output that will be shown to you a list of websites or documents related to your search word or phrase. For example, typing “speed of light” in the Google search engine would return the list similar in the image shown below.

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Wolfram Alpha, on the other hand, returns answers to search phrases or questions instead of a list of related documents or web pages. Searching “speed of light” in the Wolfram Alpha search engine returns the figure below.

Not only that, it can also perform computations. For example, type “US dollars 1000 to Philippine pesos” would return the equivalent amount (see Figure below).

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**Wolfram Alpha** is an answer engine developed by Wolfram Research. It is an online service that answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from structured data, rather than providing a list of documents or web pages that might contain the answer as a search engine would (Wikipedia).

And Wolfram Alpha can do a lot more than that. To know more about Wolfram Alpha, watch the videos below.

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I love WolframAlpha as do my students! The links in this post may be of interest:

http://colleenyoung.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/wolfram-alpha-widgets/

A contact of mine recently noted that if you type ‘live long’ into WolframAlpha it quite correctly returns ‘and prosper’!

“And prosper?” hahaha… that’s nice. 😀

Thanks for the link Colleen.

Google is starting to do some calculations for you – its calculator gave you the answer to your speed of light question as well as the web page results and will give you an answer to “100 meters in miles” but its no where near wolfram alpha.

One of the best things I find with wolfram alpha is that it not only gives you an answer but for many calculations there’s a “show steps” link at the top right of the answer box and it will tell you how it computed the answer – see http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=limit+of+((1%2Bx)/x)+as+x+tends+to+infinity

I have to agree it is special

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