Search, but not as we know it
Wolfram Alpha is called a computation knowledge engine rather than a search engine and wants to change the way people use online data, the BBC reports.
The engine is the invention of British-born physicist Stephen Wolfram and aims to give people direct answers to queries instead of sending them to other sites where they may (or may not) find what they are seeking.
Typically the results it returns are annotated pages of data rather than a list of websites that might help resolve a user's query. For example, if asked about the weather in Manchester it would present a graph of average temperatures, rainfall and other salient data, the BBC explains.
The computational horsepower behind the main site works out answers to question as they are put by grabbing data from databases and consulting feeds of relevant information.
The data it consults is chosen and managed by staff at Wolfram Research who ensure it can be displayed by the system. Behind the scenes Wolfram Alpha has about 10,000 CPUs spread across five data centres that it draws on when generating answers.