College of Engineering Hosts Watson Watch Party during Jeopardy! Competition

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February 8, 2011

“Elementary, my dear Watson.”

That line is said to have been uttered by the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes to his assistant, Dr. Watson, when explaining deductions he had made.

But that was another era . . . and another Watson. This time, it may not be so elementary.

Enter the 21st-century Watson, a computing system built by a team of IBM scientists and named after IBM founder, Thomas J. Watson.

This Watson, an analytic computing system, will compete on Jeopardy! against two of the most celebrated players ever to appear on that game show—Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The competition will air on February 14, 15 and 16, 2011; two matches will be played over the three consecutive days.

Michigan State University will host a Watson Watch Party on the second day of the televised competition—Tuesday, February 15—in the Engineering Building auditorium (room 1345). Registration opens at 6:30 p.m.; welcome and opening remarks begin at 6:45 p.m.; the televised Jeopardy competition begins at 7:30 p.m.

“While this event demonstrates the fun side of this question-answering technology” says Satish Udpa, dean of the MSU College of Engineering, “this technology is a tremendous breakthrough that has the potential to improve lives throughout the world. For example, it could be used to help make split-second decisions in hospital emergency rooms or help judges and lawyers in the courtroom. The people whose lives will be transformed, or saved, because of this technology—they will be the true winners.”

Good luck, Watson. And may the best man . . . or machine . . . win.

To learn more about Watson, visit

To read about the Jeopardy! competition, visit

To view a video clip from the February 15 event at MSU, visit

Download the Man vs. Machine Viewing Party Kit here