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Sunday, May 17, 2009

WolframAlpha -- not helpful to genealogists yet

There have been a lot of Web comments on a new search/wiki program from Stephen Wolfram. You may not be familiar with him unless you majored in mathematics or engineering or some other physical science but in some areas, he is well known. He was born 29 August 1959 in London and is a British physicist, mathematician, and businessman, known for his work in theoretical particle physics, cosmology, cellular automata, complexity theory, and computer algebra. Wikipedia. He is probably best known for his program, Mathematica. In 1986 Wolfram left the Institute for Advanced Study for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he founded their Center for Complex Systems Research and started to develop the computer algebra system Mathematica, which was first released in 1988, when he left academia. In 1987 he co-founded a company called Wolfram Research which continues to develop and market the program.[2] Stephen Wolfram is currently the majority shareholder. See Wikipedia.

His latest project is WolframAlpha, which is described as "the first step in an ambitious, long-term project to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone. You enter your question or calculation, and Wolfram|Alpha uses its built-in algorithms and growing collection of data to compute the answer. Based on a new kind of knowledge-based computing..."

So far, despite the projects ambitious goals, the searches lead to little or no useful genealogical information. You may wish to read a more extensive review on the TransylvanianDutch Genealogy and Family History blog. I find a site such as LiveRoots to be much more useful than WolframAlpha at this point.

1 comment:

  1. I just saw that you also wrote a review for Wolfram Alpha and the possibilities for genealogical research. I found the site hugely disappointing; it can't even answer simple questions like: What is genealogy?
    you can read my review here
    http://genealogieonline.blogspot.com/2009/05/review-wolfram-alpha-and-genealogical.html

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