IBM's Watson Finds Home At Rensselaer Poly Tech - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Data Management // Big Data Analytics
News
1/30/2013
09:45 AM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

IBM's Watson Finds Home At Rensselaer Poly Tech

IBM's cognitive computer will let university do advanced computing research and expose students to big data analytics disciplines.

20 Top Masters Degrees For Big Data Analytics Professionals
20 Top Masters Degrees For Big Data Analytics Professionals
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has secured a complete installation of the IBM Watson system through an IBM grant program.

RPI faculty, researchers, and students will get an opportunity to work hands-on with the latest iteration of the cognitive computing system that famously bested human champions at Jeopardy! in 2011.

"The notion here is that we want to take the Watson system and get it into the university academic world," said Michael Henesey, a VP of Business Development who works with IBM Research. "We think this is going to produce great things."

[ Ready to polish your crystal ball? Read To Avoid Nasty Surprises, Higher Ed Turns To Prediction.]

RPI was chosen partly because of its strength in cognitive computing research and because computer scientists there were involved in some of the original research projects that led to the creation of Watson. In addition, RPI has long provided talent to IBM, which is headquartered in New York State and has one of its principle research centers there. This is the latest in a series of IBM partnerships with universities aimed at training data scientists.

"We'll hopefully generate strong new professionals out of it," Henesey said. That's the focus of IBM's broader efforts involving more than 200 educational institutions globally in big data and analytics research and education, he said. "We want skills to flow and become available to us. Our customers are also telling us this is a top concern of theirs because of the vast amount of information they're coming into contact with from social media and sensor data. We're seeing that 90% of the world's data was created in the last two years -- that's a fun statistic -- so we know it's growing, but the trick is how do we work with it."

15 terabytes of hard disk storage, the Watson system at Rensselaer will store more information than its Jeopardy! predecessor and will allow 20 users to access the system at once. Cognitive computing systems like Watson attempt to mimic the human brain, absorbing vast amounts of natural language data such as news articles, decoding its nuances and seeking to derive inferences and make optimal decisions.

IBM has been exploring practical applications of Watson technology in healthcare with WellPoint and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and in financial services with Citigroup. However, it's still far from being a neatly bundled product, and these organizations are partnering with IBM in a spirit of experimentation and exploration, Henesey said.

IBM's work with Rensselaer is "a collaboration to evolve the technology, so it's a little different," Henesey said. However, in addition to providing computer science researchers with a test bed, RPI will be encouraged to find applications of the analytic engine for use in other branches of science or economics. "They're very good at going cross-domain within the university," he said.

The grant of the Watson system was made under IBM's Shared University Research awards program, which connects the research and researchers at universities with IBM Research, IBM Global Services and IBM's development and industries labs. Among other things, the program aims to increase access and use of IBM technologies for research and in curriculum.

Henesey wouldn't say whether other universities should be lining up with requests for a similar grant of a Watson system. "What we're announcing now is the relationship with RPI. We're going to try to get that right and see where it takes us."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
Commentary
If DevOps Is So Awesome, Why Is Your Initiative Failing?
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  12/2/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll