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Wolfram Alpha - Natural language alternative to Google due in May

Cliff Saran

A natural language-based search tool which claims to offer an alternative approach to Google for searching information, is due out in May.

The tool, Wolfram Alpha, is built around a vast repository of curated data from public and licensed sources. It uses sophisticated Natural Language Processing algorithms to allow users to ask questions in natural English.

Internet groups are working on the semantic web to make it easier for computers to understand the web. British-born physicist Stephen Wolfram, who developed Wolfram Alpha, has taken a different approach. Wolfram Alpha uses the algorithms to identify and catalogue data.

The product was demonstrated to a small audience on Wednesday at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Blog posts on the internet from people who attended the demo have been positive, but some people are questioning whether the tool may be too accurate for its own good.

One user on the Wolfram Alpha blog said, "My guess is that the greatest advantages of Wolfram Alpha - its precision and accuracy - may actually cause it to be of limited interest to most people."


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