By Nick Dawe, on 22 May 2009
There’s been a surprising amount of press coverage over the latest development in search technology – the WolframAlpha ‘computational technology engine’. It’s quite unlike other search engines in that it doesn’t just search for results on a page based on your query; instead it computes a variety of different results that it can make out of your query.
For instance, if you wanted to compare some of the main statistics of London universities, you’d have to spend a long time with Google trying to search through each institution’s website. However, if we search ‘Imperial College, University College London, Kings College London’ in WolframAlpha, we get a fast comparison between the establishments.
The engine can obviously provide a range of mathematically based calculations based on a query, but what we’ve found impressive is its novel ways of dealing with some basic queries. For instance, if we enter a website address like ‘ucl.ac.uk’, we don’t just receive the name of it and a link to take us there; instead we get its registered host information, web stats, and even, fascinatingly, an ‘HTML element hierarchy’:
Anyway, it seems like the engine has a huge range of features to explore and discover. It’s obviously only in its early days, but we’d be particularly interested in how this might assist any academic related web development.
To try it out…