Viterbi helps IBM create a new computing robot

first_imgJeopardy! pitted the man versus the machine Monday night, as Watson, a computing system that uses Question Answering technology, was quicker than its human opponents in 24 out of 30 “Double Jeopardy” questions.Mr. Roboto · Steve Canepa, IBM’s general manager, hosted a watch party Tuesday to view the launch of Watson on Jeopardy!. Students were impressed by the system’s language skills. – Robin Laird | Daily Trojan Members of the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute are among a group of scientists from eight universities who are working to advance Watson, which was designed by IBM to understand human language and language complexities and to provide answers to factual questions.Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, sorts through its extensive database and tries to provide precise answers quickly. Watson is even able to understand different attributes of human language such as rhyming, alliteration, slang, riddles and puns.Steve Canepa, IBM’s general manager, hosted a watch party at University Gateway on Tuesday for students to watch Watson’s Jeopardy! debut.“It takes Watson an average of three seconds to answer a question,” said Jennifer Chu-Carroll, a research staff member and manager at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. “And it looks through a database of over 1 million books.”Chu-Carroll has worked on many parts of the Watson system, focusing primarily on developing the system’s ability to quickly narrow down the information in its repertoire to what is relevant to the question being asked. Watson finds about 100 sentences that it thinks could contain the answer and ranks the possibilities in order of confidence.“If Watson is 90 percent sure, it’ll buzz its answer in. If it’s 40 percent sure, it probably won’t,” Chu-Carroll said.Students who attended the watch party were intrigued by Watson’s grasp of the English language.“When you consider all the nuances of the human language, it’s impressive that Watson understands so much of it,” said Peter Perez, a graduate student studying engineering management.Members of Viterbi’s ISI first became involved with IBM in 2001, but only as part of a government-funded research program.Inspired by the QA technology that many universities were developing in their labs, IBM scientists designed Watson over the course of about seven years and then invited other scientists from universities such as USC, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Texas to collaborate on the project. USC has had QA technology for about 10 years, but it was separate from the Watson project.The ISI team specifically contributed to Watson’s parsing ability, the process of analyzing a text, and its inference skills, the ability to reason and draw conclusions.IBM hopes Watson will revolutionize many industries and even assist in research.“There is so much information out there. It is beyond anyone’s ability to go through all of it,” Chu-Carroll said. “So one thing we have tried to do is bridge the gap between the human user and the vast amount of information available.”Eduard Hovy, director of the ISI Human Language Technology group and research associate professor of computer science at USC, said Watson could not only be used to greatly improve the confidence of existing search engines, but could also be used for troubleshooting, business intelligence and medical assistance.“Medical information is growing so quickly, no doctor can stay up-to-date,” Hovy said.Advanced QA technology could be used to sort through medical information and give diagnoses based on patient symptoms. The doctor would then evaluate the information provided and make the ultimate judgment call.Watson’s ability to answer questions as well as a human is currently being tested in the first human versus computer competition on Jeopardy! which will air for the last time today.“We felt as though our system performs well enough, that it would put up a respectable fight whether it wins or loses,” Chu-Carroll said.Watson is a big step forward in language technology. It’s a precursor for the way computers will be designed and how people will be able to communicate with them in the future, according to Chu-Carroll.“As researchers, we’ve known that [technology like Watson] has been possible for a long time, but it’s great to see it finally being realized,” Hovy said.Students are excited about the possibilities for future technology after watching Watson on Jeopardy!.“I think it’s great to see this advancement in technology,” said Sinead Hinson, a junior majoring in public relations. “Who knows what will happen with the next generation.”last_img read more

Senior faceoff specialist Ben Williams continues to struggle at the X

first_img Published on April 4, 2017 at 10:31 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21 Syracuse’s most important player has slipped into mediocrity.Amid the worst stretch of his career, perhaps brought on by a nagging injury, SU senior faceoff specialist Ben Williams has won only 52 percent of his chances at the X. The 2016 Tewaaraton Award Nominee has posted a 50-percent faceoff success rate or worse in four of his last five games. He had a career-worst 4-of-18 day against Duke before freshman Danny Varello replaced him. Last week at then-No. 1 Notre Dame, Williams lost three of the first four faceoffs of the game and finished only 10-of-23 in the upset victory.For years, Williams has given the Orange a sense of ease. In his sophomore and junior years, he delivered game after game with few blemishes. Yet a slow start has extended into a disappointing season, which SU head coach John Desko attributes to his FOGO’s injury. Williams gets another chance to step back on track for the No. 2 Orange (7-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast), which visits unranked Hobart (4-5, 1-1 Northeast) on Wednesday night.“He’s a little banged up,” Hobart head coach Greg Raymond said. “Maybe that has a little to do with it. I don’t think there’s anything going on with him … Opponents find ways to infiltrate ways of him getting into a groove and make him not as comfortable.”Four faceoffs into Saturday’s contest against UND, Williams looked like he did the week prior, when he posted a career-worst day in a near loss to Duke. Saturday, despite his slow start, Williams strung together four of the last five faceoffs in the first half. It set up a Syracuse transition goal and several lengthy possessions, allowing SU to work its offense and take a two-goal lead headed into the break. When Williams clicks, so does Syracuse.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut Notre Dome scored three unanswered third-quarter goals to erase a three-score deficit headed into the final frame. Williams lost 4-of-5 faceoffs during that period, allowing UND to dominate possession and score four goals in the quarter.“He started out well,” Desko said after the 11-10 win over UND. “He did a really nice job getting the ball out to himself … They tried to muck things up in there and try to slow Benny from getting out clean.“Then their double poles, anytime that happens, you’re going to make it hard for us to get the ball.”Williams’ struggles at the X can’t be attributed to one reason. His lingering injury could fuel this trend, though the roots may run deeper. Duke head coach John Danowski said veteran faceoff specialists wear down toward the end of their college careers. Fortunately for SU, the offense capitalized on 15 Duke turnovers to overshadow Williams’ career-worst game, a near-Blue Devils win if not for a Jamie Trimboli game-winner in overtime.SU ranks a mere 27th in faceoff winning percentage. Whether Williams’ struggles signify a more prolonged downturn and whether the Orange uses more of Varello, who’s 20-of-30 from the X and has drawn rave reviews from teammates, remains to be seen. Williams still has five regular-season games, an ACC tournament and possible NCAA tournament to fully recover from the injury that sidelined him for SU’s only loss of the year. He can still redeem his underwhelming performance.“It’s just a matter of him getting his technique back,” Desko said.The SU offense has scored goals at the right times. Its defense has shut down some of the best attackmen in the country, which came Saturday in UND stud Ryder Garnsey. A healthy Williams would make Syracuse, two wins away from its best start since 2011, even more dangerous down the stretch.“He’s a beast,” Raymond said. “We’re still preparing for him like he’s the best one in the country.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more