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Last week, as physicist Stephen Wolfram was demonstrating his new Web-based "computation engine"--Wolfram Alpha--to the public, Google announced a data-centric service of its own. Alpha accesses databases that are maintained by Wolfram Research, or licensed from others, and deploys formulas and algorithms to compute answers for searchers.
Using some prelaunch log-in credentials provided by the Wolfram team, Technology Review decided to run their own Wolfram Alpha versus Google test. They used a handful of search terms that could produce data-centric answers and tried variations in a few cases to see what might happen.
This was an effort to get beyond the characterizations and produce some real data. They wanted to explore the claims made during my visit to Wolfram Research last week: that Alpha can add unique value in computing answers based on personal search queries. I recommend looking at the results but you should be able to test it out yourself in two or three weeks.