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CMU students get to work, play with computer Jeopardy! champion Watson

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:33 p.m.

It seems only right that Watson, IBM's Jeopardy!-playing computer, should become a part of the curriculum at Carnegie Mellon University this fall.

After all, former CMU doctoral student Nico Schlaefer spent three summers working on the team that developed the computer, which beat a pair of human Jeopardy! champions in its TV debut three years ago.

CMU officials announced on Tuesday that the school will offer a computer science class, “Intelligent Information Systems featuring IBM's Watson,” in conjunction with IBM. The class will give students access to Watson's cognitive technology as they develop mobile applications for the computer.

“The home run we're looking for is to add our vision to IBM's technology to create an application that is useful and worthy of being spun off as a product,” said Eric Nyberg, a professor in CMU's Language Technologies Institute. Teaching the course with Nyberg will be Alan Black, a Language Technologies Institute professor, and Norman Sadeh, a professor in the Institute for Software Research.

Nyberg and several CMU students, including Schlaefer, collaborated with IBM on the platform Watson used to understand questions from people and search huge databases for an answer.

CMU is one of seven universities partnering with IBM on the course. The others are Ohio State University, New York University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan and University of Texas in Austin.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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