IBM's supercomputer Watson is due to star in the upcoming Jeopardy episodes in February, pitched against the two most successful Jeopardy players, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings.

The bout between man and machine is due over a three-day span from Feb. 14 to 16, 2011. IBM supercomputer is named after its founder Thomas J. Watson. The bout is reminiscent of the 1997 chess match between IBM's computer Deep Blue and Russian chess champion Gary Kasparov.

IBM said: The Jeopardy! format provides the ultimate challenge because the game's clues involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other complexities in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not.

The prize money will be donated by IBM to charity.

David Ferrucci, the scientist leading the IBM Research team that has created Watson, said: Beyond our excitement for the match itself, our team is very motivated by the possibilities that Watson's breakthrough computing capabilities hold for building a smarter planet and helping people in their business tasks and personal lives. 

The supercomputer has the ability to sift through vast amounts of data and return precise answers, ranking its confidence in its answers.

The difference in Watson's approach is that regular QA systems like Ask.com can answer random questions like Who wrote 'Hamlet but answering  What Globe Theater playwright wrote a tragedy about an indecisive Dane? is tough cookie for these systems. Thus Watson would be taking on such questions at Jeopardy.

Watson uses massively parallel distributed computing architecture. The supercomputer will face impediments like use of common language for queries, assessing sources it needs to tap to answer the question, assessing human reaction and assessing accuracy of answers three times and having a wide domain of knowledge cutting across various subjects.

The famed 1997 chess match between Deep Blue and Gary Kasparov was won by Deep Blue. The first game between the two was played in February 1996 which Kasparov won but he lost eventually in a re-match in 1997.