Tech Tuesday: WolframAlpha

Google has become more than just a web search engine, especially for the average college student. It has become our primary research tool and even a calculator for simple arithmetic operations. However, Google was never meant to be used for anything that involved fetching and working with huge datasets or perform any advanced mathematical operations.

This is where WolframAlpha, the self-proclaimed Computation Knowledge Engine comes in. While I have been a regular user of the website ever since its launch, it wasn’t until the launch of its iOS app that I really discovered its true power and potential.

The home screen of the app has a very search engine-ey feel to it with the search box at the center of the screen on which you can type what you seek information on. Because of the range of data and information WolframAlpha can work with, a very useful feature is that the search engine gives you suggested keywords (operations and operands).


What really sets the iOS client apart from the website is that it adds three additional rows of numbers, symbols and equations which makes entering mathematical operations very simple, much simpler than even entering data into a calculator.

Having said that WolframAlpha isn’t really a calculator replacement. But what really sets it apart from a calculator and makes it so much more useful is that while a calculator solves problems for you; WolframAlpha solves problems with you. With WolframAlpha you have the option of seeing step-by-step solutios for multi-step problems like those ranging from simple algebra to advance calculus.
While my post until now has focused on the mathematical computation abilities of the app, WolframAlpha’s capabilities go far beyond anything I can possible write about in any blog posts. To get a comprehensive list of all the domains covered visit its iTunes page

One can use WolframAlpha to look up data and information ranging from credible sources, whether its data related to Economics like the unemployment rate in three US cities on finance, the stock analysis of Microsoft’s stock, for instance.

To sum up,

Thumbs up:

  • A Swiss army knife like app for all computational needs
  • Slick and intuitive interface
  • Great visualization
  • The built in keyboard

Thumbs down:

  • Requires an active internet connection
  • Does not seem to have any additional features than the web that the WolframAlpha Pro account does, for $3.99 a month

The app can be bought from the App Store for $3.99. The good thing about it is it’s a universal app, so the $3.99 lets you install the app on all your iOS devices: the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod touch.

-Samujjal Purkayastha


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