John M. Prager  John M. Prager photo         

contact information

Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY USA


Professional Associations

Professional Associations:  ACM SIGIR  |  American Medical Informatics Association  |  Association for Computational Linguistics


Since coming to work for IBM, I have been working in several research areas that have converged in my current project activity.  I started at the former IBM Cambridge Scientific Center (in Cambridge MA), working in various projects involving Intelligent User Interfaces. From 1992 to the present, I have been at T.J. Watson, working on interfaces again, on Search, Question Answering and Clinical Decision Support. From 2006 to 2011 I was on the DeepQA research team developing Watson, the computer system designed to play at champion human level at the Jeopardy! question-answering quiz game  Since 2011 I have been working on using and extending Watson technologies for Clinical Decision Support in the healthcare industry.

My research interests lie within the area of Artificial Intelligence, which can be loosely defined as getting computers to perform those (cognitive) tasks that humans can do very well, but for which correct and complete algorithms are beyond our current capabilities to write. Specifically, I'm interested in using user and domain models to inform activities such as question-answering. I'm also interested in all aspects of language (both natural and computer processing of); this helped my work on Watson, which has concentrated on the different kinds of puzzles, word-play and puns common in the Jeopardy! challenge.

My Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts was in low-level vision, specifically in exploring how a moving subject can use his/its rapidly changing visual input to help analyze the scene ahead. I received an MA and Diploma in Computer Science with Distinction from the University of Cambridge (the other Cambridge); my dissertation was on intelligent help systems. My BA (in mathematics) was also from the University of Cambridge.