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Definition: Watson

The IBM supercomputer that beat two highly successful human Jeopardy winners in 2011. Watson was the result of IBM's DeepQA project which took on the challenge. Named after Tom Watson, the founder of IBM, software mined the content of 200 million pages of information in encyclopedias, dictionaries, articles, books, news, literature, taxonomies and ontologies. Using the semantic relationships from all this data, Watson accepted Jeopardy questions in natural language and derived answers in real time within a few seconds.

From Games to Practical Use
After Jeopardy, Watson was put to use making treatment decisions at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, as well as to improve the customer experience at Citibank.

The Hardware Cluster
Running SUSE Linux and Hadoop on a cluster of 90 POWER7 servers (nearly 3,000 processing cores), Watson was not online during the contest. All data were stored in its 16 terabytes of RAM for fast access. See Deep Blue.