19 Mayıs 2009 Salı

Wolfram Alpha

At last Wolfram Alpha has arrived! http://www.wolframalpha.com/
I want to talk about my first impressions about the computational search engine..
First of all, result retrival rate is very good. Actually, in an interview (i don't remember which one ), Stephen Wolfram has said that they are experienced about distributed computing because of their Mathematica experience. Before the release, the server farm has been expanded for public launch.. And so, the high speed is the reward..
Wolfram Alpha is also capable of computing mathematical expressions, it treats like a calculator.. I know technically, it is of no value. But it is about convincing people to come again!
In my opinion, Wolfram Alpha will not be used widespread unless the capabilities are improved. It is like a toy. Trying it with some data is very entertaining, but i think the supplied information is superficial and not guaranteed to be true. (One of collegues has tried the word Turkish http://www64.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=turkish and the writing system seems to be Arabic alpabet but in fact it is Latin). And i was expecting a better natural language interface. the search engine seems not to understand questions, it seems to think in terms of word pairs, not sentences.
But, i really liked the presentation of the knowledge when you search for something. After a while, you learn how the information will be presented to you and where to look for a specific info.
But overall, i can not see who will be the followers of the search engine.. It seems the supplied info (i mean the serach results) is too deep for normal internet users, too shallow for researchers.. So, i think the best type of user for the search engine is my 10-year-old brother, for his homeworks.. However, since their is no language support except for English currently, he could not use effectively..
However, despite all my critics i really think this is an innovative step towards a good natural language question answering system.. Here is one of them (i just discovered) http://start.csail.mit.edu/ (But its info seems limited, it knows the sea is blue, but it does not know the color of the ocean. I think ontologically, it should have estimated..) .
As i said above, these are just the first impressions.. I am watching :)

Edit on 11.45: I just found http://www.answerbus.com/index.shtml. I liked it :) Give it a try with some questions such as "When Kurt Cobain died?", "What are the neighbours of Turkey?", "Why is it important for European Community to get Turkey?" etc. Yeah, it is pretty slower than Wolfram, but it really retrieves good and somehow satisfying answers :)

Edit on 20/5/9 12.20 : Here is a good comparison. http://mashable.com/2009/05/19/wolfram-alpha-better-than-google/
After reading that article, i have realized that i should not see Wolfram Alpha as a question answering system, but i should treat it as a complex calculator.. That is where it locates itself.. a big himm (a turkish "i see!" mimic) :)

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