It’s surprising that Microsoft is working to incorporate something as wonky as Wolfram Alpha into its Bing decision engine. Neither Microsoft nor Wolfram will confirm the deal, but a blabbermouth has happily leaked it.
Why Wolfram? Because it’ll let Bing beat Google on its home turf of nerdiness. Both Microsoft and Google have done market research that proved no one expects Microsoft can build a better search engine than Google, so Microsoft has to change the playing field. The company calls Bing a decision engine because it doesn’t want you to think of it as a search engine, because then you’ll presume it’s like Google but not as good. “Decision engine” is a mouthful of a term, sort of like saying “status update” instead of “tweet,” so it hasn’t caught on. (I use it ironically, because it makes me happy.)
Wolfram Alpha, whose creators call it a “computational knowledge engine,” seems designed for use by junior scientists and IT staffers. Here: Take a look at some of the math examples.
This isn’t a big-dollar deal. But it’ll give Bing the power to do stuff geekier than Google’s calculator. Can Google draw integral functions? No, Google cannot. By buffing out Bing so it can handle Diophantine equations and compare multiple ellipsoids, Microsoft is augmenting its decision engine to double as a homework engine.