Undergrad Team Places Third in Watson Supercomputer Competition

Team Patent Fox placed third at the IBM Watson finals in New York City Jan. 9 after judges praised the app the undergrads invented to help protect intellectual property from patent infringement and litigation.

The University of Austin, Texas, placed first and the University of Toronto placed second in the competition for $100,000 in prize money.

The Berkeley-Haas undergrad team (pictured below, with Prof. Solomon Darwin) includes Haas students Vi Tran, BS 15, David Park, BS 15, and David Fang, BS 16; computer science students Vincent Tian, BS 15 and Jessie Salas, BS 16; and engineering student Andrew Koth, BS 15. The students were enrolled in the Open Innovation, Leveraging IBM Watson course.

Tran said the vote was a close call—and that the judges even took an extra hour to deliberate.

“It was very rewarding because we got approached by the IBM global entrepreneurship program and they offered us access to startup help and resources if we were to pursue our company further,” she said.

Patent Fox Team members do plan to pursue their idea, which uses the Watson supercomputer to help reduce the excessive cost and time typically associated with applying for a patent. By incorporating three key components—natural language processing, hypothesis generation/evaluation, and dynamic learning—Watson processes information in a way that is more like a human than a computer. It can process over 200 million records per second and learns over time as more information flows into it—an advantage that was key to the students’ project.

Patent Fox was among the first group of students to access Watson, build a corpus of information, and develop cutting-edge applications, said Jeremy Hodge, an IBM Watson Web and Digital Marketing lead. “You’ve paved the way for over 100 universities, including thousands of students, who will join the initiative in 2015,” he said.

Watch a video of the Patent Fox team here.