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Avoid trial and error with Wolfram|Alpha?

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Often I try to test some Wolfram Language (WL) expression within Wolfram|Alpha (Just the standard Web-Interface or WinPhone App). Its hopeless concerning use of WL and structuring expressions. Some few WL-expressions are understood. Most of them are not understood. Always it ends up in an endless trial and error process, since WA does not understand what I mean.

Unfortunately there is no Wolfram|Alpha documentation since it claims to be self-explaining. But it is very far from that. Is there some link where I can at least learn how to use WL within Wolfram|Alpha?

I can enter

Subsets[{1,2,3,4,5},{3}]

I can enter as well

Union[{{1,2,3},{2,3,4}},{{3,4,5}}]

But I cannot enter

Union[Subsets[{1,2,3,4,5},{3}],{{3,4,5}}]

This is misunderstood.

Of course I tried the same with natural language input. Something like

(subsets of {1,2,3,4,5} with size 3) union {{3,4,5}}

This doesn't work either.

POSTED BY: Werner Geiger
Answer
10 months ago

Simply said, you can't (generally speaking) use wolfram language directly. Though it would be easy to change wolfram alpha to accept Wolfram Language code. ToExpression[input] basically it could be 'hazardous' as you easily do infinite computations or computations that delete files or connect to other computers or run other commands.

Generally I would not recommend to use W|A to learn WL...

POSTED BY: Sander Huisman
Answer
10 months ago

Of course I do not use W|A to learn WL. I use Programming Lab for that. But W|A is handsome for getting some quick answers on small problems. But it's really tedious since it's unpredictable what W|A understands and what it doesn't understand.

Accepting WL-expressions within W|A seems natural to me. And some of them are accepted in deed. Your "hazardous"-argument does not convince me. Of course you can do stupid things with each and every programming language.

POSTED BY: Werner Geiger
Answer
10 months ago

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