IBM’s Supercomputer Competes in Jeopardy

IBM’s Supercomputer Competes in Jeopardy

IBM’s latest innovation, named Watson, is competing against Jeopardy greats Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Needless to say, this is extremely impressive. Not only does the supercomputer give correct answers, it also tells the audience how sure it is of the answer. Oh, and it listens to what the host says and can understand it. Still not impressed? Watson can understand nuances of human speech, such as puns and jokes.

That’s right. He understands jokes and puns. Watson does this by running thousands of algorithms on the questions it receives, and instead of doing them sequentially (i.e in the order he receives them) he does them all at the same time, after which he compares the answers and decides which is best, at which point he attaches a percentage to how sure he is. Watson uses VAST stores of literature and random facts to gather its answers from, and as time goes on and he encounters more information, the faster he gets and the better he gets at finding answers. The technology that IBM built Watson on is being called “DeepQA” (don’t read too far into that, you pervs.)

The supercomputer is powered by 10 racks of IBM POWER 750 servers running a Linux distro, uses 15 terabytes of RAM (a standard personal computer has 4-8 GIGAbytes), and has a brain that is composed of 2,880 processor cores that can operate at speeds up to 80 teraflops (to put that into a little perspective, most of the computers on the market today have 2-4 processor cores). The system is totally self contained (not connected to the Internet) and can process the over 2 million pages of data in its memory in less than three second. Quite frankly, I’m impressed. And you should be too. And yes, I referred to the computer as he.

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