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Wolfram Alpha comes alive with new Computable Document Format

Wolfram Alpha
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Wolfram Alpha

Computational knowledge search engine Wolfram Alpha has announced that their recently introduced Computable Document Format (CDF) has been integrated with their web-based service. The new format allows results to be interactively manipulated by various parameter controls right within the browser.

Users can enjoy “live” search engine output by installing the free CDF plugin on the Wolfram Alpha website, or if they already have Mathematica 8 installed. Now results generated are not just static but can be altered on-the-fly, giving new meaning to most data. Stephen Wolfram, founder of Wolfram Alpha, comments,

“Sometimes being able to change parameters dynamically just enriches what is already rather complete output. But often, it’s what really makes the output meaningful.”

Some examples of CDF’s usage on Wolfram Alpha include live altering differential equations using sliders to control values, controlling the radius of an edge detect image of Abraham Lincoln and exploring the earth’s visible satellites from various longitudes and zoom levels.

Interactive view of all visible satellites using CDF
Interactive view of all visible satellites using CDF

Interactivity is only available with particular kinds of computational data today, but “broader coverage” will arrive in the future.

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Darren McCarra
Darren McCarra is co-editor of The Sociable. He has a keen interest in photography, all things mobile, and writing about technology and social media. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.