While Jeopardy may be one of America’s favorite television game shows, the quiz competition also has a special relationship with the University. Stanford students have participated extensively in the trivia game show’s various forms over time—and even, on more than one occasion, emerged victorious.
Last Thursday, having gorged myself on a hearty (turkey-free, since I’m a vegetarian) meal, I collapsed onto my motorized reclining couch at home and started sinking into a gastronomic coma. With drooping eyelids while trying desperately to stay open to watch the snooze-fest that was the Raiders playing the Cowboys at JerryWorld, my time awake was going to be quite short.
Matt Olson ’14 [a Daily copy editor] progressed to the semifinals of the “Jeopardy!” College Championship after winning his quarterfinal game, which aired Feb. 6. The symbolic systems major competed in the televised round against Monica Thieu from the University of North Texas and Zach McDonnell from the College of William and Mary. The prize for the final round of the college championship is $100,000.
The Stanford and University of California, Berkeley Quiz Bowl teams matched wits Thursday evening against each other and a formidable opponent–the IBM Watson “supercomputer,” capable of answering questions posed in natural language.
As a SymSys student focusing in Natural Language, from the minute I first heard about Watson, I was wildly excited by what it meant that IBM had built a question-answering machine sophisticated enough to play Jeopardy and be competitive with the best contestants. We’ve been talking a lot about Watson in my natural language processing class this quarter, and even though I still know very little about the field, I know enough to be amazed at what IBM’s been able to do so far.