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Showing posts from February, 2011

Rules in PAL: the Performance Analysis of Logs tool

In spite of their limitations, some of which were discussed in an earlier blog entry, rule-based bromides for automating computer performance analysis endure. A core problem that the rule-based approach attempts to address is that, with all the sources of performance data that are available, we are simply awash in esoteric data that very few people understand or know how to interpret properly. At a bare minimum, we need expert advice on how to navigate through this morass of data, separating the wheat from the chaff, and transforming the raw data into useful information to aid IT decision-making. Performance rules that filter the data, with additional suggestions about which measurements are potentially important, can be quite helpful. A good, current example is the Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) tool, a free Windows counter analysis tool developed by Clint Huffman, a performance analyst of the first rank who works in Microsoft’s Premier Field Engineering team. PAL serves the need…

Watson computer smoking hot at Jeopardy challenge

Well, the contest isn't over yet, but the outcome looks like a foregone conclusion. After two days, the Watson computer is poised to defeat the two human champions it is playing. The computer’s performance has been impressive, to say the least, and has left the human contestants looking dazedand confused. And who wouldn’t be? The computer was both ruthless & relentless. (There I go, anthromorphising again.) The two human champions were barely able to answer a question or two as Watson virtually ran the board in the 2nd day of the competition. Watson, which has to generate an answer in real-time, was so successful at beating the human contestants to the punch that it generated speculation about whether the computer had some kind of unfair time advantage from being fed the question electronically. As reported here (thanks, Phillip), according to IBM, Watson actually cedes a slight “reaction time” advantage to the human contestants. Given how successful Watson is in determining th…

The Smartest Machine on Earth Plays Jeopardy

I don't know if anyone out there besides me saw the NOVA TV show "Smartest Machine on Earth" about the IBM Research Watson computer. Watson is scheduled to play two human Jeopardy champions on TV on Monday-Wednesday (Feb 14-16) of next week. I thought the show was excellent. Here's a link to the broadcast: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/smartest-machine-on-earth.html.


If you are interested in going deeper, the current issue of AI Magazine is devoted to Question Answering, and contains an article by the Watson researchers. After the IBM Deep Blue chess computer successfully challenged the reigning human chess champion in 1997, AI researchers at IBM turned to other “hard problems” in AI. I am not much of a chess player myself, but I enjoyed following the progress of man against machine at the time, and I expect to tune in to watch the new IBM software play Jeopardy next week. I admit I enjoy the drama of these human vs. computer challenges. A computer that plays Jeopa…