Imperial College London using IBM Watson to predict crime

Imperial College London and Southampton University first in Europe to give students access to the supercomputer

University students will use supercomputer Watson to analyse and predict crime, Imperial College London revealed during IBM Connect last week.

Maths students in Imperial College London will work with IBM and team Watson to develop a cognitive computer application to solve challenging problems within the university's crime department.

IBM Watson is a computer that can understand and read natural language. It famously beat human contestants on live US quiz show Jeopardy without an internet connection. The university's partnership with IBM to use the computer is a European first.

It is hoped Watson will allow students to analyse data from various official crime documents alongside RSS feeds, blogs, news reports and social media.

Dr Alessandra Russo, head of computing department at Imperial College London, said: "We did a similar project a couple of years ago but we didn't have Watson.

"We really believe that now is the time to allow them to make the big leap and we believe that in the short period we can produce an application from scratch for the hybrid Watson technology."

Following the three month project, Imperial College London hopes it will be able to use the supercomputer to boost research in other departments, including crunching genome data in its bioengineering department.

Russo added: "Imperial has a longstanding relationship with IBM and it has brought us great advantages from a research and teaching perspective."

Similarly, Watson is being used to help solve brain cancer at a research centre in New York that is analysing genetic mutations.

Southampton University will be the second European University to offer Watson to its students, IBM announced at the event in Twickenham stadium last week.

The university is working with IBM to create a cognitive computing module for 150 students, across different disciplines from STEM departments to arts degrees like politics, who will be granted access to Watson's crunching power for their research.

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