Wolfram Alpha screenshot

Quick! You need to know the population growth rate of Uganda but you don’t want to search through a thousand websites to find the answer. And you need to know it now. What to do? Ask Wolfram Alpha! (By the way, the answer is 3.33% per year, according to said website.)

Wolfram Alpha is an “answer engine”, which is different from a search engine (like Google) that usually gives you links to other websites rather than the immediate answer you want. It’s built on Wolfram’s earlier product, Mathematica, a programming package that encompasses numerical computation, visualization, and statistics capabilities (i.e. you can trust its capabilities with numbers. If you type in “(9*(86+3))+(134/12)+27”, you’ll get an answer expressed in 7 different but accurate ways).

Wolfram Alpha also provides non-specific queries and will produce a result that best illustrates the answer you’re searching for:

Life expectancy of 25 year old male in Japan: (Answer: 79.93 years)
Average weight of a 20 year old female in Argentina: (Answer: approx. 149 lbs)
lim(x->0) x/sin x: (Answer: 1)

It also responds to more complex, fact-based questions such as:

What is the 29th smallest country by GDP per capita? (Answer: Ghana)
How old was Ronald Reagan in 1978? (Answer: 66 years old)
Where was Mark Zuckerberg born? (Answer: Dobbs Ferry, NY. Which has the population of over 11,000 people, if you cared to know)

If these don’t convince you yet, check out more examples on their examples page.

Wolfram Alpha’s database currently includes hundreds of datasets, including current and historical weather, drug data, star charts, currency conversion, and many others. The datasets have been accumulated over approximately two years, and are expected to grow. If you’re weary about where all of this information comes from, you can click the “Source Information” button at the bottom of the page.

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