An Israeli-based startup has created what they think is the first semantic search engine designed specifically for scientific and mathematical equations. As Classroom Aid described, Symbolab allows users to search for equations using both numbers and symbols as well as text. The engine returns results based upon their relatedness to theory and semantics rather than visuals.
The startup behind the technology, Eqsquest, said they wanted to make scientific content universally accessible by expanding its searchability. Unlike other search engines that are limited by language, Symbolab is scalable across cultures, since much of the equations found in science and math require no translation.
Since science is a language with its own syntax, grammar and vocabulary, a science-focused search engine has some advantages over Google. Each symbol can mean something different within and across disciplines, while order and element position matter as well, the Symbolab founders said in an interview on The Next Web. Keyword search like that used in Google works well for text, but not so much for scientific expressions. Wolfram Alpha, on the other hand, overlaps with this new tool to some extent, but the founders argue that Wolfram Alpha is a knowledge base while the Symbolab is a search engine, sort of like Wikipedia versus Google.