Monday, May 18, 2009

Sometimes I get tired of the waiting

Wolfram Alpha is now available for use.

Perhaps I'm being too demanding for the first week of release, but I'm very disappointed.

It fails on just about every question I think of myself (as opposed to things on their list of prepared examples).

It does not understand "air density at 60,000 feet."

It understands "pressure at 60,000 feet." And it understands "air density at 2 mm Hg." But it is not able to combine these things. It does not understand "air density at (pressure at 60,000 feet) and (temperature at 60,000 feet)." That was pretty much my minimum expectation of what it would do.

It does not understand "pressure at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean."

When I ask "distance to Barnard's Star in 10,000 years," it gives the impression that it is parsing the request correctly. It seems to know that I want the distance to Barnard's Star at the time 10,000 years from now. But it gives the wrong answer. It does not know that the distance to Barnard's Star is changing with time.

I find it hard to reconcile this weak performance with the claim that they have encapsulated most of the knowledge in a research library.


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