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December 5, 2011 AT 4:46 pm

Google Enables Function Plotting from Search

Via Google:

I still recall the day when my friend Yossi came to school and showed off his brand new graphing calculator. I was stunned by how easy it was to plot complicated functions — meanwhile, the rest of us were still drawing them by hand on graph paper.

Today, I’m hoping to share that magical feeling with students around the world, with the introduction of graphing functionality on Google. Now you can plot mathematical functions right on the search result page. Just type in a function and you’ll see an interactive graph on the top of the search results page.

You can zoom in and out and pan across the plane to explore the function in more detail. You can also draw multiple functions by separating them with commas. This feature covers an extensive range of single variable functions including trigonometric, exponential, logarithmic and their compositions, and is available in modern browsers.

I hope students and math lovers around the world find this experience as magical as I found the graphing calculator so long ago.

Google says this is “showing some love to math lovers”, and I have to admit that this is super-handy, but it’s also a direct challenge to Wolfram Alpha. Alpha still offers a lot more higher-level math and engineering functionality (personal favorites include the Butterworth and Chebyshev filter worksheets), but it’s only a matter of time before Google implements stuff like polynomial root solving (which is basically already done here — if you can plot the function, you can find the roots), PDE’s, and statistical analysis. It will be interesting to see how Wolfram might up the ante.


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8 Comments

  1. Whoah, watch out Google. If they add things like root solving, a lot of kids are going to use this to cheat on homework. Google is very accessible and would get used a lot.
    Thankfully Wolfram Alpha isn’t known well enough among kids in school who would cheat. Leaves more for us smart masses to use I guess. 😉

    On another note, I can’t get it to work. Is Google rolling this out soon, or to selective regions/people? I’m even using Chrome.

  2. Restricting information because somebody “might use it to %whatever%” is a policy that has never once worked in the entirety of human history. Information wants to be free.

    It works fine for me. Have you tried clicking the links in the quoted part of the post? Those seem to come up fine as plots of sinusoids and such.

  3. DuckDuckGo is my favorite search engine at the moment.
    Tons of geeky things and wolfram alpha integration.
    A lot more also, check it out: http://duckduckgo.com/about.html

  4. Whoa, cool! It can’t do Euler’s formula, though, which is a tad disappointing if I’m honest…

  5. I’d just use wolfram alpha

  6. @Ben L

    You *can* already use it for root solving. Just punch in a quadratic equation and look for the y-intercept. That said, any good algebra teacher worth their salt is going to ask that you factor the equation to show how you solved it.

  7. Yeah, I’ve tried the links in the original article. Doesn’t work either.

  8. I’ve just tried it on another computer and it works. Also with Chrome. I think my first computer doesn’t have the newest version of Chrome or something.

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