Monday, May 11, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha - The Search Engine of Tomorrow?

It’s been 12 or so years since Google was introduced as the result of a Stanford University research project. In that time the world has gotten used to search results that are based on things like the relationships between multiple Web sites or the number of times a search term appears on a page - an approach that doesn’t always provide the most relevant or useful information.

Now, a company called Wolfram Research gives search users a reason to raise their expectations. Wolfram is working on a new type of search tool that they are calling a computation engine. The difference is that their tool will give users specific answers to natural language questions they submit by collecting, curating and organizing information from a variety of sources rather than directing them to other sites.

An alpha version of the tool was released last month. The illustration of a sample search results page below shows how much different computational based results will be from traditional search results. Whether this will be the next breakthrough in search technology, or just hype, remains to be seen.