Watson consistently outperformed its human opponents on the game's signaling device, but had trouble in a few categories, notably those having short clues containing only a few words.Although the system is primarily an IBM effort, Watson's development involved faculty and graduate students from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute, the University of Texas at Austin, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Trento, In 2008, IBM representatives communicated with Jeopardy!Watson also used databases, taxonomies, and ontologies.Specifically, DBPedia, Word Net, and Yago were used. That machine zeroes in on keywords in a clue then combs its memory (in Watson's case, a 15-terabyte databank of human knowledge) for clusters of associations with those words.
In initial tests run during 2006 by David Ferrucci, the senior manager of IBM's Semantic Analysis and Integration department, Watson was given 500 clues from past Jeopardy! While the best real-life competitors buzzed in half the time and responded correctly to as many as 95% of clues, Watson's first pass could get only about 15% correct.As part of the preparation, IBM constructed a mock set in a conference room at one of its technology sites to model the one used on Jeopardy! To provide a physical presence in the televised games, Watson was represented by an "avatar" of a globe, inspired by the IBM "smarter planet" symbol.Jennings described the computer's avatar as a "glowing blue ball criss-crossed by 'threads' of thought—42 threads, to be precise", Joshua Davis, the artist who designed the avatar for the project, explained to Stephen Baker that there are 36 triggerable states that Watson was able to use throughout the game to show its confidence in responding to a clue correctly; he had hoped to be able to find forty-two, to add another level to the Hitchhiker's Guide reference, but he was unable to pinpoint enough game states.To alleviate that claim, a third party randomly picked the clues from previously written shows that were never broadcast. staff also showed concerns over Watson's reaction time on the buzzer.Originally Watson signalled electronically, but show staff requested that it press a button physically, as the human contestants would.Watson's basic working principle is to parse keywords in a clue while searching for related terms as responses. contest was the electronic circuitry that receives the "ready" signal and then examined whether Watson's confidence level was great enough to activate the buzzer.This gives Watson some advantages and disadvantages compared with human Jeopardy! Given the speed of this circuitry compared to the speed of human reaction times, Watson's reaction time was faster than the human contestants except when the human anticipated (instead of reacted to) the ready signal.Since Deep Blue's victory over Garry Kasparov in chess in 1997, IBM had been on the hunt for a new challenge.In 2004, IBM Research manager Charles Lickel, over dinner with coworkers, noticed that the restaurant they were in had fallen silent.During 2007, the IBM team was given three to five years and a staff of 15 people to solve the problems.For each clue, Watson's three most probable responses were displayed on the television screen.