Wolfram Alpha API opens up for computational data
Webservice API enables access to computational knowledge for Web, mobile and enterprise apps
- By Rutrell Yasin
- Oct 20, 2009
Web, mobile, desktop and enterprise application developers can now integrate advanced analysis techniques into applications to give users seamless access to the capabilities of the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine.
Using the Wolfram Alpha Webservice Application Programming Interface (API), developers can integrate computational knowledge into Web sites, mobile applications, interactive journalism and publishing, and cloud computing applications, officials from Wolfram Alpha said.
The Wolfram|Alpha engine, unveiled in May, is part of an initiative to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. The knowledge engine draws on research and work by Stephen Wolfram, cofounder and chief executive officer of Wolfram Research, a software development and scientific research company.
With Wolfram Alpha, people can type questions or equations. The engine uses built-in algorithms and a growing collection of data to find the answer.
That process can be applied when government agencies want to access, correlate, distribute and compute their data. For example, the Census Bureau or the Commerce Department might want to post large volumes of data on its Web site or the Wolfram Alpha channel, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration might want to use the engine to enhance weather-forecasting data, Wolfram Alpha officials said.
By leveraging the trillions of pieces of curated data, tens of thousands of algorithms and visualization capabilities that compose Wolfram Alpha, developers can rapidly create distinctive knowledge applications for broad or niche markets, officials said.
"The Wolfram Alpha Webservice API democratizes access to data and algorithms for developers," said Schoeller Porter, Wolfram Alpha's architect for developer relations. " The Webservice API removes the need to be an expert in computational methods in order to incorporate advanced analysis techniques in an application, Porter said.
Operating as a Representational State Transfer Web service, the Wolfram Alpha Webservice API can be retrieved from any internet-connected computer or device and can be used with any programming language that supports HTTP and XML.
The Webservice API can be downloaded from the company’s website, which is supported by its webMathematica-based supercomputer cloud infrastructure.
The API is offered as a utility service and is priced on a per-request basis, with bulk pricing available. Pioneer grants are available for selected entrepreneurs and developers building innovative applications using the Webservice API.
Company officials also announced the availability of the Wolfram|Alpha App for the Apple Computer iPhone and iPod touch on the App Store. The Wolfram Alpha App has been tailored for the unique needs of iPhone and iPod touch users.
Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.