## Why does Wolfram|Alpha present all search results as pictures rather than text?

25th December 2011

*My answer to Why does Wolfram|Alpha present all search results as pictures rather than text? on Quora*

Wolfram Alpha is essentially a web interface to Mathematica (plus a huge corpus of structured data). Mathematica has been around for decades, and has an extremely sophisticated visualisation engine (try typing “sin(x)/cos(x)” in to Wolfram Alpha and see what happens). It’s also very good at rendering mathematical formulae that would be very hard to represent in plain HTML (without using MathML, which isn’t supported by IE).

Since a good proportion of Alpha’s results are going to be rendered as images generated by Mathematica, I imagine the engineering team decided to use images for everything (even plain text answers) because they wanted the typefaces to be consistently presented.

You can read more about how Alpha uses Mathematica here:

http://blog.wolframalpha.com/200...## More recent articles

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