New interesting computational search engine arrives

It's early days for "computational knowledge engines" but one in particular from British-born physicist Stephen Wolfram has hit the information highway a lot this week. It will open to the public in May. Wolfram Alpha is a closed search engine that looks like an amazing hybrid between Wikipedia and Google's OneBox answers for simple, common search queries. The closeness will change soon and when it does I'm looking forward to searching about software development engineers in Ireland and Europe and the related information the index pulls up. Check out the video to make up your own mind.

Alpha will come in free and paid versions. The paid version will allow users download and upload data to the engine. They haven't disclosed pricing yet, but pro users will, for example, be able to not just see a graph, but also download the data behind this graph for use on their own machines or in Mathematica.

The engine is seems not just academic in design. Wolfram is clearly thinking about monetisation and will allows users to embed not just a Wolfram|Alpha search box on their own pages, but they will also be able to embed results and a custom Alpha portal on their own sites. Users will also be able to receive email alerts when a result changes. This is where some advertising may take place.