## Wednesday, May 20, 2009

### Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha claims to be a computation engine, so it can tell us things about maths, apparently.

I heard it could 'compute' things, based on a huge database it had, so I needed to know the probability of something occuring, I thought I'd try out Wolfram Alpha. Needless to say, it returned nothing. I wasn't really supprised.

I though, ok, thats perhaps a bit obscure, perhaps I'll try a few maths-y terms from computer graphics and see how we go.
spherical harmonics, returned nothing. OK,.. perhaps a bit too obscure? (But Spherical Harmonics are described on their own website..)

How about the bitangent vector.. again, nothing. Wierd, again, there is information on the bitangent vector on the Wolfram website!

Clearly I'm asking for too much, so I tried the simple cross product. OK, I'm pretty sure this was covered in high school..

Exactly how stupid do your questions have to be before Wolfram Alpha gives you some information? dot product? No joy. vector at last! It knows something about maths... .. .

I'm sure it won't be long know before it achieves singularity.

Paul Pajo said...

Wolfram Alpha=Skynet? :)

Unknown said...

You are at least partly wrong; as you have written: It can "compute" things, it is not a clone of www.answers.com.

So if you try to compute a cross product:

cross([1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6])

it will give you a numerical answer and a nice graphical answer. The same goes for the dot produce:

dot([1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6])

Unknown said...

You're doing it wrong.

You want Wikipedia. That's where you type in a thing and it gives you all the information about the thing that you could possibly want to know.

Wolfram|Alpha is a calculator, not an encyclopedia.

Feed it equations, like marcomaggi said above, and you'll touch what it's really all about. It looks for something computable in your input, and there's nothing usefully computable in simply the phrase "spherical harmonics".