Carnegie Mellon University
February 17, 2011

News Brief: Watson Wins Jeopardy Challenge

A standing-room-only crowd filled the Rashid Auditorium on Feb. 16 to view three episodes of Jeopardy! featuring IBM’s Watson question-answering system, including the live broadcast of the final episode in which Watson convincingly beat human champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
Eric Nyberg, professor in the Language Technologies Institute, told the audience about how question-answering (QA) research began at Carnegie Mellon and how LTI faculty and students became involved in IBM’s Watson project from its very beginning. Two of his Ph.D. students, Nico Schlaefer and Hideki Shima, both developed important pieces of Watson during internships at IBM. Mark Sherman, a SCS alum and IBM Software Group Strategy program director, also spoke prior to the finale.
A commentary by Nyberg about the implications of Watson’s victory for the QA research community has been posted on the website of PBS’s NOVA. Nyberg and Tom Mitchell, head of the Machine Learning Department, also liveblogged the Feb. 16 Jeopardy episode for NOVA. Shima and Schlaefer likewise liveblogged the Feb. 14 episode. All of those blog posts can be read at the NOVA Smartest Machine on Earth website.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was among the local news media that covered the viewing party. The Jeopardy Challenge attracted high ratings for Jeopardy and considerable news media attention, including this widely circulated Associated Press story.
Nyberg, Schlaefer and Shima discuss the Watson project and their roles in this Carnegie Mellon video.
Check out the IBM Watson Facebook page,, and follow Watson on Twitter @ibmwatson and join in the conversation using the hashtag  #ibmwatson.

Byron Spice