University of Pittsburgh
February 9, 2011

Pitt Computer Scientist Diane Litman Available to Discuss Watson Technology

The IBM computer Watson will challenge two human champions Feb. 14 on Jeopardy!
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH— University of Pittsburgh computer science professor Diane Litman, director of Pitt’s Intelligent Systems Program and a Senior Scientist in Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), is available to discuss natural language processing, a component of the technology that makes the computer Watson work. 

Developed by IBM researchers, Watson will be competing on the television show Jeopardy! against two human champions, beginning Feb. 14. Programmed with millions of facts from dictionaries and encyclopedias, Watson can sort through its entire database in less than three seconds. It won its first practice match in mid-January. 

Litman’s expertise is in the area of artificial intelligence, tutoring systems, and natural language processing. Along with other colleagues at LRDC, Litman has developed computational tutorial dialogue systems that promote learning through conversation. Litman earned her AB in mathematics and computer science from The College of William and Mary and her MS and PhD in computer science from the University of Rochester. She received the prestigious Visiting Professorship Award from The Leverhulme Trust in 2008, which allowed her to collaborate with fellow researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. From 2000 to 2003, Litman served as chair of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics. 

The LRDC is an internationally renowned research center that focuses on cognition, learning, and effective schooling. Built in 1963, it is one of the only three freestanding institutions at the University. The work of the LRDC extends throughout the University, with most faculty having appointments in their home departments—such as psychology, computer science, law, or education—as well as at LRDC.