DeepQA project: the Jeopardy challenge and the evolution of assisted search of information

Roberto Sicconi, IBM Research
Program Director, DeepQA New Opportunities
IBM T.J. Watson Research

DEI – Seminar Room
April 20th, 2011 - 4pm


IBM Research undertook a challenge to build a computer system that could compete at the human champion level in real time on the American TV quiz show, Jeopardy. The extent of the challenge includes fielding a real-time automatic contestant on the show, not merely a laboratory exercise. The Jeopardy Challenge helped address requirements that led to the design of the DeepQA architecture and the implementation of Watson. After three years of intense research and development by a core team of about 25 researchers, Watson is performing at human expert levels in terms of precision, confidence, and speed at the Jeopardy quiz show. Our results strongly suggest that DeepQA is an effective and extensible architecture that can be used as a foundation for combining, deploying, evaluating, and advancing a wide range of algorithmic techniques to rapidly advance the field of question answering (QA).
More recently IBM decided to start developing Watson as an Automated Medical Diagnostic Assistant, that can help gather, integrate and synthesize case-relevant knowledge, evaluate and propose diagnoses organizing, evaluating, scoring relevant evidence, continuously evolve analysis throughout life-cycle of case, tightly Integrated into collaborative patient care experience providing a shared and dynamic knowledge source. Watson uses massively parallel computation and is designed to process a wealth of information sources widening the field of evidence in support of diagnoses and treatments. Advances in statistical machine learning and probabilistic reasoning have shown to be well suited at addressing the stochastic nature of medical reasoning.

Roberto Sicconi
IBM Research (Yorktown Heights, NY)

Roberto Sicconi is Program Director at DeepQA New Opportunities. He is responsible for the identification of business opportunities for the DeepQA technology that is being developed for the Jeopardy!/Watson Grand Challenge. He supervises the launch of pilot implementations with key Customers to prove feasibility and effectiveness of sophisticated Question Answering in applications for Healthcare, Financial Services, Contact Centers. He coordinates the collaboration on Open Advancement QA with several academic institutions in the US and in Europe and supervises the speech UI integration as part of the Watson virtual contestant project.