(New Rochelle, NY) — David Ferrucci, PhD, an IBM fellow and the principal investigator for the Watson/Jeopardy! Project, has been named as the 2012 Iona College Graduate Commencement speaker and the recipient of an honorary doctoral degree. He will deliver his remarks at Iona College on May 19.
Widely known for his 2007 challenge to create a computer system that can rival human champions at the game of Jeopardy!, the analytics of Dr. Ferrucci’s Watson technology may be adopted by the world’s biggest financial services network, Citigroup.
Ferrucci is an alumnus of Iona Grammar and Iona Preparatory Schools, he graduated from Manhattan College in Bronx, NY with a BS in biology and received his PhD in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY specializing in knowledge representation and reasoning.
“Dr. Ferrucci is most notably recognized for his involvement with the television game show, Jeopardy!. However, he actually delved into the intricate construction of Watson and the DeepQA project with the Iona College Community this past November at the Thomas G. Bullen CFC Memorial Lecture Series in Science and Technology,” said Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D., president of Iona College.
“It was inspiring for Iona students to hear, in a November science lecture at the College, how Dr. David Ferrucci, and his IBM team using the basic tenets of problem solving: defining the problem, devising a plan, executing the plan and checking the results built the Watson computer system that defeated the Jeopardy! Champions,” added Victor Stanionis, Ph.D., professor of physics. “As a member of Iona’s science faculty, I was also delighted to hear that his first introduction to computers was at a summer class at Iona College and it was that class that inspired him to go into computer science.”
Since 1995, Dr. Ferrucci has been at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. He leads the Semantic Analysis and Integration department and his work focuses on technologies for automatically discovering knowledge in natural language that can be used to enable better decision making.
He has been the principal investigator on several government-funded research programs on automatic question answering, intelligent systems and saleable text analytics and for the research project dubbed DeepQA where he focused on advancing automatic, open-domain question answering using massively parallel evidence based hypothesis generation and evaluation.