Friday, May 15, 2009

Wolfram Alpha

Wow, JD got first in 2009, but I'm actually going to post something worth reading, if anyone is still reading that is.

Wolfram Alpha! A "computational knowledge engine" that can compute various mathematical, statistical, and physics equations. In addition, it can do other computations like 'red + yellow' or genomes or music.

If the website isn't live yet check out this video.(There's a live webcast of the launch right now, but there looks to be problems)

Wolfram is ridiculously cool, but also makes me curious about how this will impact people, specifically students. With the coming of the internet, it has brought instant sources of data (for writing papers) and Wikipedia. I wonder if not having students work out integrals stifle their development. Maybe integrals themselves aren't that important (I'm not sure I could do a complex integration right now), but I feel something could be said about the process of doing and learning. I guess my argument is a little short-sighted as the same could be said about calculators, and how they just let people do things more efficiently. Actual knowledge needs to be behind the calculator. So I'm on the fence about this, and I wonder what other people think.

All in all, it's an amazing piece of technology that has been put together, and I'm really excited to try it out.

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