Wolfram Alpha Pro can decode pictures of graphs

ZDNet – Wolfram|Alpha is launching the Pro version of Wolfram Alpha.

The NY Times reports how the system could decode tables and some pictures.

The new version handles data and images. In a recent demonstration, Dr. Wolfram, using his computer mouse, dragged in a table of the gross domestic product figures for France for 1961 to 2010, and Wolfram Alpha produced on the Web page a color-coded bar chart, which could be downloaded in different document formats. He put in a table of campaign contributions to politicians over several years, and Wolfram Alpha generated a chart and brief summary, saying that House members received less on average than senators.

Dr. Wolfram dragged in a 3-D image and after a few seconds it rendered the image — a guitar — and reported the number of polygons (2,253), among other characteristics.

The Wolfram data-deciphering engine, however, was flummoxed by a table of occupational income figures plucked from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Web site. Dr. Wolfram suggested that it was confused by all the periods used to separate columns of numbers in the table.

The output features include:

* Being able to generate interactive output using CDF (computable document format)
* Support for downloading graphics in other forms (i.e. 3D geometry, vector graphics, formats for immediate use)
* The ability to customize the output of images that Wolfram|Alpha produces (i.e. changing the input, title, frame, size, color)
* Raw data downloads

This week is a beginning, Dr. Wolfram admitted. But, he added, “We’re starting to have the ability to understand data and images in the way we understand text queries.”

Siri accounts for about a quarter of the queries fielded by Wolfram Alpha, whose staff has grown to 200. Several large companies in health care, financial services and oil and gas recently hired Dr. Wolfram’s private company, Wolfram Research, to do tailored corporate versions of Wolfram Alpha for them. Microsoft also licenses Wolfram Alpha technology.

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