Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Watson on Jeopardy - Game 1 by the Numbers

Well, I'm sure my Canadian friends and colleagues (especially the Cognos crew) are chuckling tonight after Watson's mis-step on Final Jeopardy.  

Although I have to say, if it were a human contestant that had dominated the board to this extent, the response would have been "See, he's only human after all."  What exactly does that make Watson, then?

For a behind-the-scenes take by Watson's lead researcher David Ferrucci, head on over to the Smarter Planet blog.  (And as he points out, Watson sizable lead and apparent discomfort with the category led him to wager only a small fraction of his money.)

And for all you fellow numbers junkies out there, here are some stats behind the game 1 final score (Watson - $35,734, Rutter - $10,400, Jennings - $4,800), courtesy of the freakishly diligent folks behind the J! Archive website:

In the first game (aired yesterday and today):

# of times first to buzzer # correct Final Game 1 Score
Watson 43 38 $35,734
Rutter 11 10 $10,400
Jennings 12 9 $4,800

Although when you split out the rounds, Watson really dominated the double jeopardy round, allowing his opponents to ring in first on only 7 questions.

Image:Watson on Jeopardy - Game 1 by the Numbers
Source:  J! Archives

And some stats from another standpoint - yesterday's Jeopardy matchup pulled in its highest ratings in 4 years, also making it the No. 2 program on all of television Monday, behind only "Two and a Half Men."

I spoke to my father after the show aired, and he raised the same question he raised when we had spoken about the upcoming contest over the weekend - does Watson have an advantage in that it can buzz in the millisecond that the "go" signal is transmitted?  While this certainly is an advantage, the flip side is all the processing that must go on in the intervening ~3 seconds for Watson to build out correlations, create hypotheses, converge on possible answers and rate the related confidence factors.  That's a lot to do to come up with answers as far ranging as Paganini etudes and Dana Carvey's Church Lady character (I have to say, I really didn't expect Watson to ring in first on that one.)

Kudos to all of the IBM Researchers on their Game 1 victory, and like the rest of you, I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see what tomorrow brings.