After practice rounds and plenty of hype, Watson, IBM's latest supercomputer, stepped up to the podium to take on two of Jeopardy's greatest champions: Ken Jennings, who won 74 straight rounds of Jeopardy en route to becoming a pop culture icon, and Brad Rutter, who netted more money than any other contestant while winning the three of the biggest Jeopardy tournaments (defeating Ken Jennings in the process).

How did it go? Well, the tournament isn't done yet, since it's a three-day battle between the contestants. But after the first day, Watson has won \$5000, tying it for first place with Brad Rutter. Ken Jennings is in third place, with \$2000. How can a computer do this, you ask?

## What Is Watson?

On stage, Watson is an portrait-oriented LCD monitor with an avatar consisting of a sphere-like graphic. In actuality, it's a massive collection of servers functioning as a supercomputer. Housed in another room next to the Jeopardy stage, it occupies the equivalent of a large room and is surrounded by refrigeration units. Watson is comprised of 10 server racks, which house 100 IBM Power 750 server units. He's as powerful as 2,800 "powerful" computers put together. It is also equipped with 15 terabytes of onboard RAM.

## How does Watson work?

Well first and foremost, Watson is not connected to the internet. So any knowledge base he draws from was preloaded by an IBM engineer. But that's not what gives Watson the advantage, his his two competitors basically know everything. What makes Watson so special is the speed at which he can analyze a clue delivered in conversational English, and derive an answer to that clue using his analytical engine.

When Watson is given the clue via electronic text, it is run through a series of complex algorithms which pick apart keywords, the relation of those keywords to each other, and the structure in which those words were used. From there it begins an association process where it generates and eliminates possible answers based on those keywords. It will also take into consideration previous clues and responses from the same category.

When Watson is working on an answer, his avatar will spin around, and the harder it works, the faster it spins. When it comes time to chime in, it delivers the answer in fluent English. When it is wrong, Watson will change color and dim out, expressing digital shame.

Over the course of the episode, Watson proved to be mostly unflappable, answering questions with in a calm, methodical manner. text clues would be delivered electronically to Watson while Alex Trebek would read those same clues aloud to the other two contestants. As previous posts have laid out, Watson has light sensors that pick up the off-camera indicator to let contestants know when they can buzz in and respond.