About Wolfram|Alpha

Making the world’s knowledge computable

The introduction of Wolfram|Alpha defined a fundamentally new paradigm for getting 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.

Goals

Wolfram|Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone.

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

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

Energetically developed for more than a decade, Wolfram|Alpha is an ambitious, long-term intellectual endeavor that we intend will deliver ever-increasing capabilities over the years to come.

With a world-class team and participation from top outside experts in countless fields, we are constantly working to create what we hope will stand as a major milestone of 21st-century intellectual achievement.

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History

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

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 see in Wolfram|Alpha. See timeline »

What makes Wolfram|Alpha possible today is a somewhat unique set of circumstances—and the singular vision of Stephen Wolfram. For the first time in history, computers are powerful enough to support the capabilities of Wolfram|Alpha, and the web provides a broad-based means of delivery. But this technology alone was not enough for Wolfram|Alpha to be possible.

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

Wolfram Language

The first was the Wolfram Language—the language that grew out of Mathematica and in which Wolfram|Alpha is implemented. The Wolfram Language has three crucial roles in Wolfram|Alpha. First, its very general symbolic structure provides the framework in which all the diverse knowledge in Wolfram|Alpha is represented and all the operations on it are implemented.

Second, the vast web of algorithms built into the Wolfram Language 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 the Wolfram Language 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 the Wolfram Language, another key to Wolfram|Alpha is 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 30 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.