What is … Jeopardy?

University of Massachusetts Amherst, in collaboration with seven other universities, is behind the Question Answering (QA) technology in IBM’s project titled Watson. The project is billed as “the smartest machine on Earth,” and is set to compete against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, who hold Jeopardy’s longest winning streaks. The competition, which will air Feb 14, 15, and 16, will be the first-ever human vs. machine “Jeopardy” competition.

The computer scientists from UMass Amherst responsible for this feat are James Allan, David Smith, and Elif Aktolga. These researchers have contributed special expertise in information retrieval or text research to the project. A detailed description of UMass Amherst contribution is on this website.

Applying the QA technology in a fast paced game show method, is challenging because the answers must be sorted out quickly in order to display as output before the human contenders can. This will be the first time a computing system will be “able to analyze natural language and complexities in which humans excel at understanding,” unlike the similar project chess program “Chess Blue.”

Look out for the show this week Monday through Wednessday. Leave thoughts and comments about the show!

Written by: Jaymin Patel


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