18 May 2009

Wolfram|Alpha fails to impress this blogger

My 1st inquiry for Wolfram|Alpha, Stephen Wolfram’s newly unveiled “computational knowledge engine” was this:

“snail shell”

And this is what I got back:

Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input.

I look under Tips for good results. It says, “Don’t use long complete sentences; just enter the minimum number of words needed to communicate.” My inquiry can’t possibly be shorter than those 2 words. Another tip was, “Wolfram/Alpha answers specific questions rather than explaining general topics Enter '2 cups of sugar', not 'nutrition information'. So, maybe I wasn't specific enough. I got more specific:

“composition of snail shell”

Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input.

Do I also have to provide the answer?

“calcium carbonate in snail shell”

Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input.

“largest snail on land”

Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input.

“penis of snail”

Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input.

May I suggest to Wolfram|Alpha that it can take my input and stuff it?


Kirk said...

I just tried a few words and phrases. On a few economic words, it really missed the point. Upon asking it crayfish anatomy, it hasn't a clue.
It's obvious they need to go back and do some heavy duty soul searching.

So here is my recommendation.


xoggoth said...

You're right. I kept typing things in and kept getting that same non answer. Useless.

Anonymous said...

As they say "not ready for prime time!"

Charlie sturm

Anonymous said...

It managed OK with "What is a snail?"

However it thought a shell is a financial entity, and a slug is a unit for the measurement of weight.

I think the only info it can access on the topic of snails is the basic classification as Gastropoda and that's it.

When asked "what is a limpet?", it came up with Patella vulgata.

When asked "what is an escargot?", it came up with Helix pomatia along with author and date.

Pretty primitive, I would recommend sticking with Wikipedia for the time being!

Susan J. Hewitt

Neil said...

Yes, W/A scores a fat D - in biology. When I entered "Shark, dolphin, sea turtle" yesterday it returned a bogus phylogeny: [sea turtle+[shark+dolphin]]. Upon closer inspection it was actually a trichotomy, but just horribly and confusingly drawn. It appears that it is using coarse rank-based taxonomy to generate pseudo-cladograms...totally worthless. And potentially misleading

Snail said...

I gave up on trying to extract a sensible answer about zoology and entered my birth date intead. It assured me there were no notable events on that day. Surely some mistake there?

Howvere, I do now know the sunrise and sunset times in Melbourne on my birthday and also the phase of the moon!

xoggoth said...

I was born on the same day as Nostradamus. Probably why I talk bollox. Not my fault.