Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.
Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels. Our goal is to accept completely free-form input, and to serve as a knowledge engine that generates powerful results and presents them with maximum clarity.
Wolfram|Alpha is an ambitious, long-term intellectual endeavor that we intend will deliver increasing capabilities over the years and decades to come. With a world-class team and participation from top outside experts in countless fields, our goal is to create something that will stand as a major milestone of 21st century intellectual achievement.
That it should be possible to build Wolfram|Alpha as it exists today in the first decade of the 21st century was far from obvious. And yet there is much more to come.
As of now, Wolfram|Alpha contains 10+ trillion pieces of data, 50,000+ types of algorithms and models, and linguistic capabilities for 1000+ domains. Built with Mathematica—which is itself the result of more than 20 years of development at Wolfram Research—Wolfram|Alpha's core code base now exceeds 5 million lines of symbolic Mathematica code. Running on supercomputer-class compute clusters, Wolfram|Alpha makes extensive use of the latest generation of web and parallel computing technologies, including webMathematica and gridMathematica.
Wolfram|Alpha's knowledge base and capabilities already span a great many domains, and its underlying framework has the power and flexibility to support ready extension to essentially any domain that is based on systematic knowledge. More »
The universe of potentially computable knowledge is, however, almost endless, and in creating Wolfram|Alpha as it is today, we needed to start somewhere. Our approach so far has been to emphasize domains where computation has traditionally had a more significant role. As we have developed Wolfram|Alpha, we have in effect been systematically covering the content areas of reference libraries and handbooks. In going forward, we plan broader and deeper coverage, both of traditionally scientific, technical, economic, and otherwise quantitative knowledge, and of more everyday, popular, and cultural knowledge.
Wolfram|Alpha's ability to understand free-form input is based on algorithms that are informed by our analysis of linguistic usage in large volumes of material on the web and elsewhere. As the usage of Wolfram|Alpha grows, we will capture a whole new level of linguistic data, which will allow us to greatly enhance Wolfram|Alpha's linguistic capabilities.
Today's Wolfram|Alpha is just the beginning. We have ambitious plans, for data, for computation, for linguistics, for presentation, and more. As we go forward, we'll be discussing what we're doing on the Wolfram|Alpha Blog, and we encourage suggestions and participation, especially through the Wolfram|Alpha Community.
Wolfram|Alpha, as it exists today, is just the beginning. We have both short- and long-term plans to dramatically expand all aspects of Wolfram|Alpha, broadening and deepening our data, our computation, our linguistics, our presentation, and more.
Wolfram|Alpha is built on solid foundations. And as we go forward, we see more and more that can be made computable using the basic paradigms of Wolfram|Alpha—and a faster and faster path for development as we leverage the broad capabilities already in place.
Wolfram|Alpha was made possible in part by the achievements of Mathematica and A New Kind of Science (NKS). In their different ways, both of these point to far-reaching future opportunities for Wolfram|Alpha—whether a radically new kind of programming or the systematic automation of invention and discovery.
Wolfram|Alpha is being introduced first in the form of the wolframalpha.com website. But Wolfram|Alpha is really a technology and a platform that can be used and presented in many different ways. Among short-term plans are developer APIs, professional and corporate versions, custom versions for internal data, connections with other forms of content, and deployment on emerging mobile and other platforms.
History & Background
The quest to make knowledge computable has a long and distinguished history. Indeed, when computers were first imagined, it was almost taken for granted that they would eventually have the kinds of question-answering capabilities that we now begin to see in Wolfram|Alpha. See timeline »
What has now made Wolfram|Alpha possible today is a somewhat unique set of circumstances—and the singular vision of Stephen Wolfram.
For the first time in history, we have computers that are powerful enough to support the capabilities of Wolfram|Alpha, and we have the web as a broad-based means of delivery. But this technology alone was not enough to make Wolfram|Alpha possible.What was needed were also two developments that have been driven by Stephen Wolfram over the course of nearly 30 years
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