* Watson, the IBM computer that competed (and won) on the television show Jeopardy!, represents an impressive leap forward in analytics and systems design.

The underlying “DeepQA” architecture is designed to find the meaning behind a question posed in natural language and deliver a single, precise answer.

For Watson to rival the speed of its human competitors in delivering a single, precise answer to a question requires custom algorithms, terabytes of storage and thousands of POWER7 computing cores working in a massively parallel system.

Learn More About Watson

*
*
* Rensselaer graduates were there from the beginning as IBM conceptualized and created Watson:
  • Chris Welty ’85 (who earned all three of his degrees at Rensselaer) was a member of the IBM Watson algorithms team and a former director of Rensselaer’s computer science laboratory.
  • Welty's fellow IBM algorithms team member Adam Lally ’98 worked on the Watson project.

Rensselaer Graduates Play Vital Role in Watson's Success (Rensselaer Research Review)

*
*
*
*
*
* *
*
* IBM Watson (Image Credit: IBM)
* *
On January 30, 2013, IBM announced it will provide a modified version of an IBM Watson system to Rensselaer, making this the first university to receive such a system.
The arrival of the Watson system will enable new leading-edge research, and afford faculty and students an opportunity to find new uses for Watson and deepen the systems’ cognitive capabilities. The firsthand experience of working on the system will also better position our students as future leaders in the areas of Big Data, analytics, and cognitive computing.

Known to many as the IBM innovation that beat Jeopardy!’s all-time champions, Watson has a unique ability to understand the subtle nuances of human language, sift through vast amounts of data, and provide evidence-based answers to its human users’ questions. Rensselaer News Release | Announcement and News Conference (video)

*
*
Watson at Rensselaer
*

Jeopardy! The IBM Challenge

February, 2011

Rensselaer professors and scientists, and lead developers of the IBM Watson computer, joined an enthusiastic audience of students and visitors to watch as Watson faced off against the two all-time Jeopardy! champions on Feb. 14, 15, and 16, 2011, on the large high-definition screen in the EMPAC Concert Hall.

Several of the scientists behind the development of Watson are Rensselaer graduates. Chris Welty ’85 (who earned all three of his degrees at Rensselaer) is a member of the IBM Watson algorithms team and a former director of Rensselaer’s computer science laboratory. Welty participated in all three viewing events and shared behind-the-scenes stories with the audience. He was joined by Adam Lally ’98, another IBM software engineer on the Watson project.

All three events included panel discussions featuring the IBM experts along with Rensselaer professors and administrators before the show aired, followed by Q&A. Welty and Institute experts discussed the Watson technology and its importance in the development of benefits ranging from medicine to science to computing.

According to IBM, “Jeopardy! The IBM Challenge” poses a specific question with very real business implications: “Can a system be designed that applies advanced data management and analytics to natural language in order to uncover a single, reliable insight—in a fraction of a second?” The game of Jeopardy! makes great demands on its players — from the range of topical knowledge covered to the nuances in language employed in the clues. Can the analytical power of a computer system — normally accustomed to executing precise requests— overcome these obstacles? Can the troves of knowledge written in human terms become easily searchable by a machine in order to deliver a single, precise answer? Can a quiz show help advance science?

Expert Panel Discussions (archived videos)

It’s Not Elementary, My Dear Watson: What are the fundamentals of Watson?

The Category Is: How does Watson work?

Watson, Watson-Crick, and Well Beyond: Will Watson become human-aid or humanoid?

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Schools & Programs RPI Connections
Copyright ©2013 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)  110 Eighth Street, Troy, NY USA 12180  (518) 276-6000  All rights reserved.
Why not change the world?® is a registered trademark of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Site design and production by the Rensselaer Division of Strategic Communications & External Relations

Page updated: 7/30/13, 3:48 PM