About Wolfram|Alpha

Making the world’s knowledge computable

Wolfram|Alpha introduces a fundamentally new way to get knowledge and answers—
not by searching the web, but by doing dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods.

Bringing broad, deep, expert-level knowledge to everyone... anytime, anywhere.
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Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone.

We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels.

Our goal is to accept completely free-form input, and to serve as a knowledge engine that generates powerful results and presents them with maximum clarity.

Wolfram|Alpha is an ambitious, long-term intellectual endeavor that we intend will deliver increasing capabilities over the years and decades to come.

With a world-class team and participation from top outside experts in countless fields, our goal is to create something that will stand as a major milestone of 21st century intellectual achievement.

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The quest to make knowledge computable has a long and distinguished history.

Indeed, when computers were first imagined, it was almost taken for granted that they would eventually have the kinds of question-answering capabilities that we now begin to see in Wolfram|Alpha. See timeline »

What has now made Wolfram|Alpha possible today is a somewhat unique set of circumstances—and the singular vision of Stephen Wolfram.

For the first time in history, we have computers that are powerful enough to support the capabilities of Wolfram|Alpha, and we have the web as a broad-based means of delivery. But this technology alone was not enough to make Wolfram|Alpha possible.

What was needed were two developments that have been driven by Stephen Wolfram over the course of nearly 30 years.

Wolfram Mathematica

The first was Mathematica—the system in which all of Wolfram|Alpha is implemented. Mathematica has three crucial roles in Wolfram|Alpha. First, its very general symbolic language provides the framework in which all the diverse knowledge of Wolfram|Alpha is represented and all its capabilities are implemented.

Second, Mathematica's vast web of built-in algorithms provides the computational foundation that makes it even conceivably practical to implement the methods and models of so many fields. And finally, the strength of Mathematica as a software engineering and deployment platform makes it possible to take the technical achievements of Wolfram|Alpha and deliver them broadly and robustly.

A New Kind of Science

Beyond Mathematica, another key to Wolfram|Alpha was A New Kind of Science (NKS). Many specific ideas from NKS—particularly related to algorithms discovered by exploring the computational universe—are used in the implementation of Wolfram|Alpha. But still more important is that the very paradigm of NKS was crucial in imagining that Wolfram|Alpha might be possible.

Wolfram|Alpha represents a substantial technical and intellectual achievement. But to build it required not just unique technology and ideas, but also the experience of 20 years of long-term R&D and ongoing development of robust technology at Wolfram Research.

Wolfram|Alpha's world-class team draws from many fields and disciplines and has unique access to experts across the globe. But what ultimately made Wolfram|Alpha possible was a singular commitment to the goal of making all the world's systematic knowledge computable.


Wolfram|Alpha Technology

The Concept

  • Free-form natural language input
  • Dynamically computed results

The Components

  •   Linguistic analysis
    New kinds of algorithms for 1000+ domains
  •   Curated data
    10+ trillion pieces of data from primary sources with continuous updating
  •   Dynamic computation
    50,000+ types of algorithms & equations
  •   Computed presentation
    5,000+ types of visual and tabular output

The Platforms

  • wolframalpha.com
  • API
  • mobile apps
  • ebooks
  • web widgets
  • custom installations

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The History of Systematic Data and the Development of Computable Knowledge