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2010 19th International Conference on Parallel Architectures and Compilation Techniques (PACT) (2010)
Vienna, Austria
Sept. 11, 2010 to Sept. 15, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-5090-5032-1
pp: 1
David Ferrucci , IBM Research, Hawthorne, NY, USA
Computer systems that can directly and accurately answer peoples' questions over a broad domain of human knowledge have been envisioned by scientists and writers since the advent of computers themselves. Open domain question answering holds tremendous promise for facilitating informed decision making over vast volumes of natural language content. Applications in business intelligence, healthcare, customer support, enterprise knowledge management, social computing, science and government would all benefit from deep language processing. The DeepQA project ( is aimed at illustrating how the advancement and integration of Natural Language Processing (NLP), Information Retrieval (IR), Machine Learning (ML), massively parallel computation and Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (KR&R) can greatly advance open-domain automatic Question Answering. An exciting proof-point in this challenge is to develop a computer system that can successfully compete against top human players at the Jeopardy! quiz show ( Attaining champion-level performance Jeopardy! requires a computer to rapidly answer rich open-domain questions, and to predict its own performance on any given category/question. The system must deliver high degrees of precision and confidence over a very broad range of knowledge and natural language content and with a 3-second response time. To do this DeepQA generates, evidences and evaluates many competing hypotheses. A key to success is automatically learning and combining accurate confidences across an array of complex algorithms and over different dimensions of evidence. Accurate confidences are needed to know when to “buzz in” against your competitors and how much to bet. Critical for winning at Jeopardy!, High precision and accurate confidence computations are just as critical for providing real value in business settings where helping users focus on the right content sooner and with greater confidence can make all the difference. The need for speed and high precision demands a massively parallel compute platform capable of generating, evaluating and combing 1000's of hypotheses and their associated evidence. In this talk I will introduce the audience to the Jeopardy! Challenge and describe our technical approach and our progress on this grand-challenge problem.
Human Factors, Algorithms, Performance, Design, Experimentation
David Ferrucci, "Build watson: An overview of DeepQA for the Jeopardy! Challenge", 2010 19th International Conference on Parallel Architectures and Compilation Techniques (PACT), vol. 00, no. , pp. 1, 2010, doi:
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