computational knowledge engine

WolframAlpha does not describe itself as a search engine, but as a computational knowledge engine. It was developed by Wolfram Alpha LLC (founder: Stephen Wolfram, Theodore Gray) and started in 2009. WolframAlpha uses a crawler to search the web for data. This data is analyzed using proprietary algorithms to calculate the answers. The algorithms are based on Stephen Wolfram's mathematics software.

Language English

Launched May 2009
Closed No

Developer Wolfram Alpha LLC

Country of Origin US America

2009 - [...] Wolfram Alpha LLC

Topic Universal

Region No Limitation

Technical functionalities
Fact SeEn
Answer engine

Used SeEn Wolfram|Alpha

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

Wikipedia: »Wolfram Alpha (also styled WolframAlpha and Wolfram|Alpha) is a computational knowledge engine or answer engine developed by Wolfram Alpha LLC, a subsidiary of Wolfram Research. It is an online service that answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from externally sourced "curated data", rather than providing a list of documents or web pages that might contain the answer as a search engine might.

Wolfram Alpha, which was released on May 18, 2009, is based on Wolfram's earlier flagship product Wolfram Mathematica, a computational platform or toolkit that encompasses computer algebra, symbolic and numerical computation, visualization, and statistics capabilities. Additional data is gathered from both academic and commercial websites such as the CIA's The World Factbook, the United States Geological Survey, a Cornell University Library publication called All About Birds, Chambers Biographical Dictionary, Dow Jones, the Catalogue of Life, CrunchBase, Best Buy, the FAA and optionally a user's Facebook account.« Source


Wolfram is the name of one of the founders. Source

Critical points

Features & Functionality

"It doesn’t scour the Web for data to return the best results. Rather, it ingests data into its own massive databases so that it can run the information through its own constantly-growing set of algorithms to “compute” the answers. These algorithms are based on computer scientist Stephen Wolfram’s Mathematicasoftware." Source


Example results page for "sand": Source

References & further Publications

Wikipedia (EN):
Wikipedia (Others):

Other Sources

Eric Schonfeld (2009): Putting Wolfram Alpha To The Test: Not Super-Impressed (But Here Are 50 Invites). Online über die Webseite Techcrunch: URL:
Dirk Lewandowski (2009): Wolfram Alpha: Faktenmaschine. In: Password, 2009, 6, S. 6-7. Oder: Online über die Homepage der HAW Hamburg - Department Information: URL:
Wolfram Blog URL:

Created: 2013-01-31