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The much-hyped new “computational knowledge engine” from physicist Stephen WolframWolfram Alpha–will launch on Friday evening and the event will be webcast for anyone curious to see what happens. The company, which is best known to date for it’s Mathematica software, has been doing modeling and simulation of various demand scenarios, hoping to avoid a launch-day crash.

The company announced the time of the launch on Tuesday evening, at the end of a day in which Google showed off a forthcoming service called Google Squared, which creates tables of numerical data culled from searching the web. In contrast, the Wolfram engine mainly taps its own curated databases, on everything from astronomy to genomics, then calculates answers and presents interesting tables and graphics to searchers using Mathematica. Both services intend to provide users with new ways to find and compute data. You can read a comparison of search results using Google and Wolfram here and an early report from the Wolfram headquarters in Champaign, IL, here.

“We can’t guarantee that everything will go smoothly. Indeed, we fully expect to encounter unanticipated situations along the way. We hope that you’ll find it interesting to join us as we work through these in real time,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the event. “You can also go directly to justin.tv, which will be handling the live webcast feed.”

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Tagged: Web, Google, search, Web, search engine, semantic, Google Labs

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