Less Is More

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Title and Synopsis
Try It!
Elementary School
Middle and High School
Linear Algebra
Differential Equations
Other Advanced Topics
It's Not (Only) About Math!
More Examples (and Data!)
Less Is More
So Is It Perfect Yet?
What About Google?
Possible Implications
A Threat?

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You probably noticed that Wolfram|Alpha sometimes gives more information than you wanted or expected to get. Unlike what you may have gotten used to with your favorite search engine, using as few words as possible in your inquiry will benefit you. Wolfram|Alpha gives less information when the query is precisely specified than when the query is broad and general. For example, the query "simplify x/(x^2-1) + 1/(x+1)" rewrites the sum as a single rational expression, whereas "x/(x^2-1) + 1/(x+1)" yields a screenful of information. If students want more information about the sum, they now have the opportunity to see the steps involved in deriving that form.

So if you know exactly what you want, simply asking for it specifically is the way to go. Here is another example: If you simply enter "icosahedron," Wolfram|Alpha will throw at you everything it knows about the icosahedron including a nice image and various combinatorial and geometric facts. However if you only ask for the skeleton graph of the icosahedron, then that is all you get.


[Note: Contents of frame come from wolframalpha.com and are not maintained by Loci]