January 14, 2014
The University of Toronto team that built a virtual legal research database for the IBM Watson Cognitive Computing Competition made it to the final round of the top three before finishing the competition in second place.
“When the final deliberation took place, the panel couldn't decide who should occupy the top spot,” said U of T lecturer Steve Engels, who travelled with the team to New York City. “They argued for a long time, even sending somebody out to apologize for the delay.”
But, in the end, the panel awarded first place to the University of Texas at Austin, Engels said. The University of California, Berkeley placed third.
The contest began when International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) asked 10 elite schools, including Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and U of T, to put together teams at each university using its famous Jeopardy-playing super-computer, named Watson. U of T was the only Canadian institution invited to participate; its computer science department was recently ranked among the top 10 computer science departments worldwide in the prestigious Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities.
In December, through a computer science course taught by Engels, Mario Grech and Helen Kontozopoulos, five U of T teams competed against each other in a challenge to develop an entrepreneurial intelligence-based legal application, using Watson’s cognitive computing engine through its cloud computing system.
Students from the department of computer science and the Faculty of Information – Jimoh Ovbiagele, Shuai Wang, Akash Venkat, Pargles Wenz Dall'Oglio and Andrew Arruda – triumphed after successfully pitching their business model, an electronic paralegal system called “Ross” that is aimed at assisting lawyers with case research. Judges for the U of T competition said the team won for its use of the technology and its succinct business plan.
The team said its ultimate goal is to build a great Canadian company.
Read more at U of T News
- Kathleen O'Brien