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Watson puts MIT, Harvard to shame

Yesterday was a bad day for MIT at The IBM Watson Challenge held at Harvard’s Burden Auditorium. Teams of students from the MIT Sloan School of Business and Harvard Business School competed against Watson, IBM’s champion Jeopardy! robot. Representing MIT were Sloan students Ari M. Oxman G, Raymond J. Andrews G, and Gautham V. Iyer G. Harvard Business School was represented by Genevieve Sheehan, Jonas P. Akins, and Jayanth Iyengar. Watson emerged victorious, with a final score of $53,601, trailed by Harvard with $42,399, and MIT with $100.

The teams competed in categories that included “Who’s Your Daddy Company?,” “Presidential Rhyme Time,” and “Before and After Goes to the Movies.” Initially, both MIT and Harvard had problems with timing answers correctly (buzzing in at an unsuitable time leads to being “locked out”). Watson, however, benefited from computer-precise timing (MIT’s timing problems continued throughout the match). MIT finished the initial Jeopardy! round with –$200 after betting over their score on a Daily Double. MIT then uncovered another Daily Double in the Double Jeopardy! round. Though they answered correctly, they did not have enough money to make a substantial wager.

The final Jeopardy! clue, in the category of Americana, was answered correctly by both Watson and Harvard. All three teams made heavy wagers in Final Jeopardy!. Before Final Jeopardy, Harvard had trailed Watson by only $1,800.

—Jaya Narain