Imperial College London

Imperial and IBM collaborate in cognitive computing



Imperial and IBM have announced a new partnership, providing Computing students and researchers with access to IBM's cognitive computing technology.

The technology, named Watson, harnesses advances in natural language processing and analytics to handle information in a similar way to how people think. It can learn from each interaction, allowing it to process intelligently big data even when this appears in disparate forms. In 2011 Watson took on two quiz champions from the US TV gameshow Jeopardy, beating both in three days of head-to-head competition.  

Imperial’s new collaboration with IBM will allow selected undergraduates and postgraduates in the Department of Computing to enrol initially in a course providing access to Watson from early 2015. 

The students will learn about Watson and the underlying technologies that are required to develop applications using cognitive systems, and will have the opportunity for hands-on work using the system itself. 

Course lead Dr Alessandra Russo, Director of Postgraduate Studies in the Department of Computing said: “There are many advantages to this kind of collaboration. Firstly, it provides students with access to the latest state-of-the-art technology. They also then have to become proficient enough to work in teams to apply that technology to address global challenges.”

With access to IBM developers, researchers and Watson technical mentors the students will work in project teams to develop prototype applications and business plans. The focus will be on applying Watson to a particular data area, such as crime prediction, cyber security or genomics. 

IBM’s Rashik Parmer said: “Cognitive computing will have a big role in the future of technology, but it requires a different sort of skill-set from traditional computing programming. At the moment there’s a shortage of these kind of skills – which is why we’re delighted to provide hands-on learning experience to Computing students at Imperial. 

“For us it’s about helping prepare the future talent that will take cognitive computing to the next stage.” 

Professor David Gann, Vice President (Development and Innovation) at Imperial, said: “As a leader in education and research in cognitive computing, Imperial aims to prepare industry-ready students to harness this combination of science and technology and create innovative products and services. It is crucial for our students to be able to work with the most cutting-edge systems and technologies, and we are truly excited about this partnership with IBM - which will enable this through a multidisciplinary and systematic approach. Our Department of Computing already collaborates closely with IBM in areas related to security, network management and intelligence services. This new initiative takes our strategic alliance to a new level. Students and researchers will benefit greatly from access to the latest generation of capabilities from IBM.”



John-Paul Jones

John-Paul Jones
Communications and Public Affairs

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