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'Jeopardy' Winner 'Watson' to Give Even Better Answers with UAlbany Scientist's Technology

ALBANY, N.Y. (February 17, 2011) -- With past "Jeopardy!" champions neatly dispatched, the IBM "Watson" computing system now goes on to greater interactive Question Answering (QA) capability -- and a UAlbany professor's technology is helping to show the way.

The research team of Tomek Strzalkowski, associate professor and director of the UAlbany Institute for Informatics, Logics, and Security Studies, has developed an interactive QA capability for sustained investigation that asks a series of questions to determine the solution to complex problems. The technology enables a computing system to remember a full interaction of questions, simulating real dialogue. This will be a significant advance for Watson, which used question by question capability to defeat "Jeopardy!'s" two most celebrated contestants on TV from Feb. 14 -16.

IBM is working with UAlbany to integrate this advanced capability into its systems for the future, allowing Watson to make important strides in positively impacting such area as healthcare, government, and financial services.

"IBM Watson is the first step in how computers will be designed and built differently and will be able to learn, and, with the help of the University at Albany, we will continue to advance the QA technologies that are the backbone of this system," said Dr. David Ferrucci, leader of the IBM Watson project team.

IBM's Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to develop a computing system that rivals a human's ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy, and confidence. Watson's ability to understand the meaning and context of human language, and rapidly process in-formation to find precise answers to complex questions, holds enormous potential to transform how computers help people accomplish tasks in business and their personal lives.

A major area of ILS and Strzalkowski's research is developing systems that analyze natural language and other language complexities which humans, to this point, have excelled at understanding and computers have not. Now, learning systems are being developed by IBM and others, through the technology of Strzalkowski and others, that can analyze information and respond to questions.

UAlbany's College of Computing and Information prepares its students to succeed in the information-rich world they will inhabit. The College was one of the first academic units in the country to combine strong technical education and research with an application-oriented perspective that ensures that information systems will effectively serve the needs of individuals and organizations in the fields of computer science, informatics, and information studies.

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