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Sum & Mean on statistic data set in WolframAlpha

Posted 10 years ago

Hey all,

I can't seem to get the mean of us inflation rate data set ... or really any interesting operation apply to it, or area under the curve

sum us population y, y=1970 to 2013

Only thing that seems to work with statistic data is division with others of the same type

us money circulation / us population

Is there some way I can use these datasets more like functions of the year? Thanks!

4 Replies
Posted 10 years ago

Something that might make WolframAlpha look substantially more intelligent would be what the Eliza psychotherapist program did half a century ago, it used your own intelligence against you. When it was a little at a loss for words it would pick a couple of words you had just used and ask you something related to them.

Example: I just asked WolframAlpha for inflation adjusted federal debt last ten years. It fumbled around a bit and didn't seem to really understand what I was asking for, it knew federal and debt and maybe even last ten years, but nothing more. I waited and watched and waited. And it popped up one of the typical helpful windows asking me if I wanted to know what year George Orwell's 1984 was published. That really really communicates the impression of just how deeply retarded WolframAlpha is, probably even more than it really is. And these totally unrelated pop up questions successfully communicate that after every single query, especially the more times you try to reword a query, again don't get an answer, become even more frustrated and get another senseless pop up. But maybe that is what thirteen year olds want.

If it had, on the other hand, when it was estimating that it probably didn't really answer the question you asked, it popped up one or two example queries that directly related to the terms it didn't understand and perhaps connected to one or more of the terms it did understand, even when those were not answering the exact question you just asked, and showed you the notation needed to communicate that concept to it then you might have been far more impressed that there was some intelligence lurking in there.

It also might be nice if someone could hard code deep into WolframAlpha somewhere that the code "i.a." means inflation adjusted and this is to be given a high priority in any question involving money. Somehow, perhaps using one of those pop ups, communicating that code to users asking questions about money would make it look far more intelligent.

POSTED BY: Bill Simpson
Posted 10 years ago

I have tended lately to (very generously) assume it is only because we are not thirteen years old that we don't "get WolframAlpha" and we spend our time randomly trying permutations of subsets of likely words to see if we can get the answer we are hoping for. I suspect there is lots of good data in there, we just don't know how to speak the language to get it.

Unfortunately there is no reference manual with all the rules of acceptable syntax neatly laid out. But that is so half-century-ago thinking.

Knowing a bit of Mathematica syntax, or now the Wolfram language syntax, sometimes means you can guess how to give WolframAlpha a somewhat dumbed down Mathematica expression and get what you are looking for. If you have a little time to learn the basics of that then I highly recommend it. But I caution you that I suspect even knowing Mathematica syntax isn't going to be enough to get the data you want out of WolframAlpha.

I've considered paying for WolframAlpha Pro for a year to see if it will let me overcome the problems I have trying to get answers out of it. Unfortunately I haven't seen a description written for someone from before the car-phone era that actually tells me what the Pro version will do for me that the plain version isn't.

Perhaps the next generation of all this means we will do an interpretive dance in front of the monitor and it understands that means we want table of the inflation adjusted government debt for the last two hundred years.

POSTED BY: Bill Simpson
Posted 10 years ago

Ah thanks for the help Bill! Thanks a smart way of getting mean :D You rock!

I think I need to learn the wolfram language, seems more programmatic and powerful... I kept running into walls with the web repl. Such as (us gdp + us gnp) / (us cpi) shows a graph but (us gdp + us gnp) / (us population * us cpi) doesn't. I'm on the pro trial too!

Posted 10 years ago

I have tried over and over in the past to get inflation adjusted results, with zero success.

I did get this for you


and this


POSTED BY: Bill Simpson
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