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Techweek KC: What do machine learning and Jeopardy have in common?

Roger Craig, a data scientist at Nashville-based Digital Reasoning Systems Inc., brought the Techweek Kansas City audience in for a game of Jeopardy. The quiz-show record setter used his own computer program to prepare for his big break: After downloading the data from a fan-made archive of questions, he sorted it by category, question frequency, value, and the percent of correct responses.

“You want to get better at categories with a high mean value with a lot of questions,” he explained. “You also want to study the ones where you’re not doing so well.”

To begin with, Craig knew the odds of getting on the show weren’t in his favor: a one in 10 chance.

“I actually had to do three auditions,” he said.

When he finally got the call in June 2010, Craig had a seat on the show — and then proceeded to win it, setting several record along the way. He still holds the record for the highest single-game total on the show, at $77,000.

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