[permaculture] Wolfram Alpha is Coming -- and It Could be as Important as Google | Twine ==== (might be a truly advanced resource for sorting through PC information on the Web)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lflj at intrex.net
Tue Mar 17 04:02:58 EDT 2009

For the Permaculture Knowledgebase/Database/Guilds/Plant Relationships enthusiasts:

Wolfram Alpha is Coming -- and It Could be as Important as Google | Twine
A Computational Knowledge Engine for the Web

In a nutshell, Wolfram and his team have built what he calls a "computational knowledge engine" for the Web. OK, so what 
does that really mean? Basically it means that you can ask it factual questions and it computes answers for you.

It doesn't simply return documents that (might) contain the answers, like Google does, and it isn't just a giant 
database of knowledge, like the Wikipedia. It doesn't simply parse natural language and then use that to retrieve 
documents, like Powerset, for example.

Instead, Wolfram Alpha actually computes the answers to a wide range of questions -- like questions that have factual 
answers such as "What is the location of Timbuktu?" or "How many protons are in a hydrogen atom?," "What was the average 
rainfall in Boston last year?," "What is the 307th digit of Pi?," or "what would 80/20 vision look like?"

Think about that for a minute. It computes the answers. Wolfram Alpha doesn't simply contain huge amounts of manually 
entered pairs of questions and answers, nor does it search for answers in a database of facts. Instead, it understands 
and then computes answers to certain kinds of questions.

(Update: in fact, Wolfram Alpha doesn't merely answer questions, it also helps users to explore knowledge, data and 
relationships between things. It can even open up new questions -- the "answers" it provides include computed data or 
facts, plus relevant diagrams, graphs, and links to other related questions and sources. It also can be used to ask 
questions that are new explorations between relationships, data sets or systems of knowledge. It does not just provides 
textual answers to questions -- it helps you explore ideas and create new knowledge as well)

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