Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wolfram Alpha on NPR

A while ago I was given a link to an interview between Robert Siegel and Stephen Wolfram about Wolfram Alpha (thanks, Earl!). I finally got around to listening to it (thanks, mp3 player!).

I liked both the questions and the answers. I particularly thought it was interesting that Alpha arbitrarily decides that Bill James should be answered by a statistical comparison between the two first names Bill and James, while Henry James turns up a statistical analysis of the author Henry James's output.

Given that Alpha can do both, it has to decide which to do, or offer a choice. Offering too many choices makes a powerful system hard to use, which is obviously not what they're after. Most likely Alpha has Henry James in its database of authors, but not Bill James, the small irony being that Bill James is a renowned baseball statistician.

There's also a cool if somewhat obvious easter egg at the end.

1 comment:

David Hull said...

Note to self: mp3 player, eh?