IBM Journal of Research and Development

Volume 56 Issue 3.4 • May-June 2012

This is Watson

In 2007, IBM Research took on the grand challenge of building a computer system that could compete with champions at the game of Jeopardy!. In 2011, the open-domain question-answering system dubbed Watson beat the two highest ranked players in a nationally televised two-game Jeopardy! match. This special issue provides a deep technical overview of the ideas and accomplishments that positioned our team to take on the Jeopardy! challenge, build Watson, and ultimately triumph. It describes the nature of the question-answering challenge represented by Jeopardy! and details our technical approach. The papers herein describe and provide experimental results for many of the algorithmic techniques developed as part of the Watson system, covering areas including computational linguistics, information retrieval, knowledge representation and reasoning, and machine leaning. The papers offer component-level evaluations as well as their end-to-end contribution to Watson's overall question-answering performance.

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Aims & Scope

The IBM Journal of Research and Development is a peer-reviewed technical journal, published bimonthly, which features the work of authors in the science, technology and engineering of information systems.


The following IBM journal articles are freely available for all users to view:



Algorithmic Information Theory
Functional Dependencies in a Relational Database and Propositional Logic
Notes on the history of reversible computation
SEQUEL 2: A Unified Approach to Data Definition, Manipulation, and Control
Some Studies in Machine Learning Using the Game of Checkers
The Design of APL
The evolution of RISC technology at IBM
The Experimental Compiling System



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Meet Our Editors

Rachel D'Annucci Henriquez
IBM T. J. Watson Research Center