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News18 » Tech
1-min read

Alexa Can Now Answer Those Tricky Math Questions

Wolfram Alpha showed off how Amazon's Alexa has begun using its computation knowledge engine to answer math- and science-based questions.

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:December 26, 2018, 10:26 AM IST
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Wolfram Alpha tweeted a mobile screenshot of a user asking Alexa, "How high do swans fly?" The answer -- which is that swans of the genus Cygnus can fly up to 5.1 miles high -- was sourced from Wolfram Alpha, a new reference for Alexa, which already uses sites like Wikipedia, Accuweather, and Stats.com. The search engine is based on Wolfram Research's flagship technical computing system Wolfram Mathematica, a program which pulls its data from sources like The World Factbook, the United State Geological Survey, and the Catalogue of Life, to name a few.

Because Wolfram Alpha is a computational search engine, it can provide a wider and more precise range of answers for scientific questions, and also help answer your math questions. An Amazon spokesperson told VentureBeat that Alexa will be able to answer questions like "what is x to the power of three plus x plus five where x is equal to seven?" "how fast is the wind blowing right now?" and "how many sheets of paper will fit in a binder?"

Just make sure you say your equations in accordance with the conventional order of operations. This new integration complements Amazon's announcement earlier this month that Alexa will begin looking to customers for questions that the voice assistant doesn't know the answer to. Combined with Wolfram Alpha, this should prevent Alexa from getting stumped too frequently, and stop users turning towards Siri.

The competing Apple voice assistant has had a Wolfram Alpha integration for seven years now, ever since the iPhone 4S launch. But Amazon is still a step ahead of the Google Assistant, which only uses its native search engine to answer questions. At any rate, Alexa is now an expert in several new fields, including math, science, astronomy, engineering, geography, and history, and can answer those calculus questions that befuddle you as well as more pragmatic questions like when the moon rises.

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