ITS 102.1 - Spring 2015

Computers playing Jeopardy!

Course Information

Instructor: Dr. Paul Fodor
1437 Computer Science Building
Office hours: Tuesdays 10:00AM-11:30AM&Wednesdays 8:00AM-9:30AM
Phone: (631) 632-9820
Email: pfodor (at) cs (dot) stonybrook (dot) edu

Your ITS Faculty Director: Dr. Lori Scarlatos
Your ITS College Advisor: Justine Perkowski
Your Quad Director: Steven Jubert

Meeting Time and Place

Course Description

This class is about the IBM Watson project. IBM Watson is a computer system capable of answering rich natural language questions and estimating its confidence in those answers at a level of the best humans at the task. On Feb 14-16, 2011, in an televised event, Watson triumphed over the best human players of all time on the American quiz show, Jeopardy!. In this course we will discuss the main principles of natural language processing, computer representation of knowledge and discuss how Watson solved some of its answers (right and wrong).

Course Syllabus

Lecture Notes and Homework Assignments

The following schedule is tentative and subject to change.

Week Date Lecture Topics/Notes Assignments/Readings
1 We 1/28 Administrative (course information) + What is Computerized Jeopardy! see Blackboard
2 We 2/4 Computerized Jeopardy! (cont.), UIMA see Blackboard
3 We 2/11 Prolog - Logic programming see Blackboard
4 We 2/18 Wordnet in Prolog see Blackboard
5 We 2/25 DCG Parsers in Prolog see Blackboard
6 We 3/4 Probability theory, algorithms and NLP applications see Blackboard
7 We 3/11 Text search and indexing see Blackboard
8 We 3/18 Spring recess n/a
9 We 3/25 Question answering see Blackboard
10 We 4/1 Question answering (cont.) see Blackboard
11 We 4/8 Question answering (cont.) see Blackboard
12 We 4/15 Question answering (cont.) see Blackboard
Final   No Final Exam  

Grading Schema

Grades will be based on homework and lab work. The grades are posted on Blackboard:


Information about the laboratory room (classroom) is available at the Computer Science Department Windows Computing Facilities website. Click on the FAQs link for information about accounts. Each student is encouraged to use an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for software development and debugging. Eclipse and Netbeans are available in the laboratory and can be installed for free on your own computer.


Academic Integrity

Each student must pursue his or her academic goals honestly and be personally accountable for all submitted work. Representing another person's work as your own is always wrong. Suspected instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the CEAS Committee on Academic Standing and Appeals. More comprehensive information on academic integrity, including categories of academic dishonesty, can be found on the Academic Judiciary's web site.

Additional Information

If you have a physical, psychological, medical, or learning disability that may impact your course work, please contact Disability Support Services at (631) 632-6748 or They will review your concerns and determine, with you, what accommodations are necessary and appropriate. All information and documentation is confidential.
Students who require assistance during emergency evacuation are encouraged to discuss their needs with their professors and Disability Support Services. For procedures and information go to the following web site: and search Fire Safety and Evacuation and Disabilities.

Critical Incident Management

Stony Brook University expects students to respect the rights, privileges, and property of other people. Faculty are required to report to the Office of Judicial Affairs any disruptive behavior that interrupts their ability to teach, compromises the safety of the learning environment, or inhibits students' ability to learn.

Page maintained by Paul Fodor