Published: Oct. 20, 2015

Jordan Boyd-Graber and a student man the QANTA computer while Ken Jennings awaits a question. Ken Jennings may hold the record for the longest winning streak on Jeopardy. But in an Oct. 2 quiz-bowl matchup against Assistant Professor Jordan Boyd-Graber’s QANTA robot at the University of Washington, he just wasn’t fast enough.

Jennings eventually lost the match 300 to 165, but remained a good sport about it. “I’m used to losing to computers in front of a crowd,” he quipped, in reference to his 2011 Jeopardy matchup against IBM’s Watson computer.

Unlike Watson, QANTA uses a two-step process to fit the quiz-bowl format. First, the computer generates a big pool of guesses based on its “training” with Wikipedia and 20 years of quiz-bowl questions. Then, it uses machine learning to decide when it has enough information to interrupt the question to answer.