Thursday, February 03, 2011

#ALGORITHMS: "IBM's Watson computer beats humans at Jeopardy"

Watson's face, topped by cartoon-like hair, is animated with meteor-like traces that streak around it as he "thinks."

Later this month, Jeopardy, billed as American's favorite game show, will air a special edition where the all-time greatest human champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, will compete against IBM's Watson cluster computer. Look for a lively match pitting man against machine on Feb. 14-16. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Watson's father-figure, David Ferrucci, is principal investigator for IBM's DeepQA architecture.

The grand prize of $1 million goes to the winner, with second place earning of $300,000 and third place of $200,000. Instead of shipping Watson to Hollywood, this special edition of Jeopardy was taped last month at IBM's
 T.J. Watson Research Lab, where a mock-up of the original Jeopardy studio was 

In trial Jeopardy matches with champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, Watson (center) beat the humans.

Watson was built from the ground up to be adaptable to the kind of business applications for which IBM is famous. Unlike chess-playing Deep Blue, Jeopardy-playing Watson runs on a cluster of 90 commercially available Power 750 servers with 
2,880 Power 7 cores and 500Gbytes per second throughput.

John Kelly, director of IBM Research, claims that grand challenges provide focus for multidisciplinary efforts.

During trial sessions, Watson beat the humans—just barely--but you'll have to tune into Jeopardy to see who wins in the real contest. Check local listings on Feb. 14-16.

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