Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jeopardy: Q & A and Watson:

When Watson played on Jeopardy, my wife wanted to see more of the word-play categories that Watson would likely be deficient in. There were few such challenges during the Watson match. I suspect that the Jeopardy producers played fair in this respect, picking categories at random from hundreds they had prepared in advance for their shows. But in real life, Watson-style systems will have to deal with vaguer questions than the majority that were used in the TV quiz game, so it’s a pity there weren’t more such challenges.

My favorite category that stumped Watson was the one where every answer was a key on your computer keyboard (shift, home, etc.). You know what? I want to see Watson play Wheel of Fortune, although it will have a gigantic advantage in that game, even if it ignores the confusing “category” hints.

Speaking of Jeopardy: if any of you are diehard fans, you may be distressed that I have persisted in calling the “answers” questions, and the “questions” answers. Well, I’m right, and the show is just silly in this respect. Contestants have to say “what is” or “who is” to preface their answers, but so what? Let me give you an example.

According to Jeopardy, this is the “question” that the contestants must guess after seeing the “answer”:

What is Elegance?

Suppose you asked "What is Elegance?" to a hundred people. Do you think that any of them would come up with the so-called Jeopardy “answer”? This is an actual item from the Watson contest:

A recent best seller by Muriel Barberry is called ‘This of the Hedgehog.’

I rest my case.
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