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Can Wolfram Alpha Tell Which Team Will Win the Super Bowl?

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the and-the-answer-is dept.

Math 126

Nerval's Lobster writes "Which football team will win the Super Bowl this weekend? That's a multi-million-dollar question, given the amount of cash people will bet on either the Seattle Seahawks or the Denver Broncos to win. Fortunately, Wolfram Alpha (the self-billed "computational knowledge engine") can analyze the historical statistics for both teams and throw out some potentially useful numbers. Developed by Stephen Wolfram and based his Wolfram Research's Mathematica analytical platform, Wolfram Alpha is an altogether different search engine from Bing or Google, which generally return pages of blue hyperlinks in response to queries. Instead of multiple results leading to still other Webpages, Wolfram Alpha usually returns set of definitive, numerical answers. (A lengthy rundown of the engine's capabilities is found on its 'About' page.) So how does Wolfram's engine, which features sophisticated algorithms chewing through trillions of pieces of data, break down the potentials for Sunday's game? Out of the 38 times the two teams have met on the field, the Broncos have triumphed 25 times (versus 12 wins for the Seahawks), scoring 98 total touchdowns to the Seahawks' 84. It's definitely advantage Broncos, in that sense. But the teams' percentages are fairly close with regard to total yardage, penalties, penalty yards, and other metrics, although the Seahawks have managed to nab more interceptions (47, versus the Broncos' 37). But while Wolfram Alpha can crunch all the historical data it wants, and that data can suggest one team will likely triumph over another, there's always the likelihood that something random—a freak injury, or a tweak to the player lineup—can change the course of the game in ways that nobody can anticipate. Also, given how player and coaching rosters vary from year to year, the teams taking the field can change radically between meetings." EA has correctly predicted eight of the last ten Super Bowl winners using the latest Madden game.

cancel ×

126 comments

No (5, Interesting)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 6 months ago | (#46134389)

Of course not. This is just as stupid as asking if you could calculate somebody's phone number.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134427)

Don't underestimate the power of Wolfram and Heart.

Re:No (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134463)

Don't underestimate the power of Wolfram and Heart.

That's Wolfram & Hart, as in Wolf, Ram, and Hart. Hart means deer.

Re: No (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134911)

Wolfram and heart is a competing organization. They operate on domain misspellings and other fouled summonings.

Re:No (-1, Troll)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 6 months ago | (#46134433)

And who really cares which team that wins?

It's only the fans for each team that really cares, the rest of the viewers are looking at it for the show while a large number of people don't care at all about superbowl.

Everyone betting on the game (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134635)

You're forgetting the 1000's of people that bet on the game. Sure the fans care, but the people with money on the line REALLY care.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134837)

Bullshit, it's all about the commercials and only the commercials. And making fun of Beyonce when her demons are unleashed on an unsuspecting public.

Re:No (5, Funny)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about 6 months ago | (#46134671)

I think you're being too pessimistic. I give Wolfram Alpha a 50/50 chance of getting the winner right. That said, I give them lesser odds for predicting the coin toss.

Re:No (1)

ClaraBow (212734) | about 6 months ago | (#46134709)

Funny!

Re:No (2)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about 6 months ago | (#46137517)

Sorry to gloat, but now that the Superbowl is over I'd like to point out that I was absolutely right about Wolfram Alpha having a 50/50 chance of predicting the winner. And not only did Wolfram Alpha fail to predict the coin toss, it also failed to predict that the coin would be tossed twice. Clearly, Wolfram needs to develop a new kind of (computer) science.

Re:No (2)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 6 months ago | (#46134677)

Of course not. This is just as stupid as asking if you could calculate somebody's phone number.

That's the great thing about close plays in sports: In one instant, you have tiny chaotic fluctuations like the air turbulence or a bounce on rough ground. The next instant, it becomes "destiny", and it gets analyzed and discussed by pundits for decades to come.

Re:No (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46134715)

Ah, but I figure you could guess right with 50% accuracy, and then if you guessed right and claim you calculated it nobody will know the difference.

If it predicts the next 10 or so, maybe. But anything else is mostly just PR.

Re:No (2)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | about 6 months ago | (#46136205)

This reminds me of a story I heard once (maybe it was from a movie, or an XKCD, can't track it down right now), in which a pair of guys meet a random girl:

Guy 1: think of a card . . .
Girl: okay
Guy 1: your card is eight of hearts
Girl: no it's 3 of diamonds
\later
Guy 2: Why did you think you knew her card?
Guy 1: I didn't, but I figure I have about a 2% chance of guessing it, and if I do this to everyone I meet then when I do get it right the reaction will be worth all the times I got it wrong.

Re:No (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46136733)

Possibly this one: https://xkcd.com/628/ [xkcd.com]

Re:No (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46134801)

Of course not. This is just as stupid as asking if you could calculate somebody's phone number.

Not really. Although I didn't see much in the stats given that require much of anything from Wolfram Alpha. A spreadsheet would have done as well. Though maybe it was easier to do via Alpha.

More to the point: from OP

"Also, given how player and coaching rosters vary from year to year, the teams taking the field can change radically between meetings."

Comparing how the teams did when facing each other in past years isn't really going to give you a whole lot of useful information. Better to compare how they did against other teams, this year.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46135785)

Of course not. This is just as stupid as asking if you could calculate somebody's phone number.

How in the world has no one posted this [xkcd.com] yet in response?

Re:No (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 6 months ago | (#46135937)

Wy can't you? The first 6 numbers are based on location, and the last 4 have a temporal component. If you know where someone lives, and when they moved here, you could calculate a range of numbers that would be likely. Much like SSN can ba "calculated" given enough information and partials of the number.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134411)

Stop posting Wolfram puff pieces - it is nothing but promotional BS, which they need because their products haven't "changed the world" the way they keep saying they will.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134639)

I have heard this Wolfram Alpha stuff coming lately from other sources too. Seems like the marketing campaign is on.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134989)

How do you feel about all those "game changing" 3D printing stories? If I go by the hype, I just need to buy a 3D printer and I'll never need to work again.

Well how wrong can they be? (4, Insightful)

bazmail (764941) | about 6 months ago | (#46134417)

Try asking them that question at the start of the season and I'll be impressed if they get it right.

Re:Well how wrong can they be? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 6 months ago | (#46135297)

Try asking them that question at the start of the season and I'll be impressed if they get it right.

Am I the only one who's less than impressed with Wolfram Alpha in general? Sometimes it seems like finding the syntax necessary for it to understand even a simple query is more work than figuring the problem out myself.

Re:Well how wrong can they be? (2)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 6 months ago | (#46136303)

Looking at stats on how a team historically plays seems kind of useless to me to predict their next game. A football team is made of individuals who may or may not have been on the team when those stats are assembled. There's also a group dynamic. So in short; about as effective as historical predictions of stock performance without regard to what the company in question is doing and the factor that all sides are gaming the system.

The fact that a game like Football can produce clear statistics, gives an illusion that there are clear reasons for those stats. While yes, a running back or quarterback has an average yardage -- what they ate for breakfast might determine how well they do in a particular game.

I think expert humans are still going to do a better job over expert computers in this regard.

Re:Well how wrong can they be? (1)

EETech1 (1179269) | about 6 months ago | (#46137631)

The one time I slugged it out with Wolfram Alpha, I learned a lot about the question at hand just trying to figure out how to get it to calculate the right thing, and then it gave me the wrong answer!

It needs a Watson front end.

What new information does it bring? (2)

TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) | about 6 months ago | (#46134429)

This is all information that most people deeply interested in the statistics of this match up know already. Wolfram Alpha doesn't really bring anything new to the table.

If the game is staged (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134435)

Yes.

Same as with human forecasters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134439)

If they get it right, they'll be playing it up - this is an example of what we can do.

If they get it wrong, it'll be forgotten. Who cares about that anyway?

Re:Same as with human forecasters (1)

Maritz (1829006) | about 6 months ago | (#46135411)

Just in case anyone doesn't know, this is confirmation bias [wikipedia.org] , and it's one of the inherent cognitive biases that pervades everyone's thinking. Remember, knowing is an undetermined fraction of the battle. Yay!

No (1)

prefec2 (875483) | about 6 months ago | (#46134455)

It can calculate probabilities on the basis of collected data. However, it cannot predict the future. Based on article, it had a success rate of 80% (failure rate of 20%). However, a sample with 10 measurements hardly qualifies as big enough to determine if the estimation model is good enough to bet on it.

Re:No (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 6 months ago | (#46136459)

It can calculate probabilities on the basis of collected data. However, it cannot predict the future.

Isn't "predicting the future" exactly calculating probabilities of future events on the basis of collected data? What else do we mean when we say "the National Weather Service is predicting 1-3 inches of snow in the Baltimore region"?

In Addition (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134471)

This is about as stupid as asking Bob, the trained seal, to throw a ball through a hoop with the team's logo on it. There's so many dumb random predictions out there that some of them are going to have very good records.

But the computer is actually going to be worse than a blind guess. Why are you analyzing all the games ever played by the Seahawks and Broncos? 10 years ago, not a single one of these players or coaches were on the team, making their results irrelevant.

Stupid. (3, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | about 6 months ago | (#46134513)

There are hundreds of millions, nay billions, of dollars at stake every year gambling on the superbowl. Bookmakers in vegas spend literally millions of dollars computing the odds to a much deeper degree than this foolishness in the summary, and even they are not even close to 100% accurate.

If the bookmakers in Vegas can not guarantee their predictions, neither can Wolfram Alpha.

Re:Stupid. (2)

rvw (755107) | about 6 months ago | (#46134631)

There are hundreds of millions, nay billions, of dollars at stake every year gambling on the superbowl. Bookmakers in vegas spend literally millions of dollars computing the odds to a much deeper degree than this foolishness in the summary, and even they are not even close to 100% accurate.

If the bookmakers in Vegas can not guarantee their predictions, neither can Wolfram Alpha.

Sadly for you, you cannot guarantee that either!

Re:Stupid. (2)

Maritz (1829006) | about 6 months ago | (#46135447)

It seems perfectly reasonable to guarantee that no-one can guarantee their prediction. It's about the only thing you can guarantee I suppose.

Re:Stupid. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134711)

No, bookmakers don't compute odds. They compute (and recompute) a number that will put 50% of the betting population on each side of the line. It has nothing to do with who is going to win.

Re:Stupid. (1)

Boronx (228853) | about 6 months ago | (#46135595)

Mod parent up.

Re:Stupid. (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 6 months ago | (#46134841)

Bookmakers in vegas spend literally millions of dollars computing the odds to a much deeper degree than this foolishness in the summary, and even they are not even close to 100% accurate.

Sigh....

If you don't know how bookmaking works, don't comment on it. We both know that you don't know, and we also both know that you are making an uneducated guess that bookies care about a games outcome. You are wrong. Bookies do not care who wins. Bookies make money regardless of the outcome.

The goal of a football bookie is to get equal amounts of money wagered on each of the two teams. Now stop acting like a fucking expert when you are actually an ignorant fuck.

Re:Stupid. (2, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | about 6 months ago | (#46134955)

Of course bookmakers make money on both sides, but they also rely on odds. HEAVILY. If the odds are not set properly they stand to lose a fortune. If all it was was a 50/50 crapshoot then odds on a sportsbook would not even exist. Get a clue.

Re:Stupid. (1)

Imrik (148191) | about 6 months ago | (#46134995)

The odds shift as more bets get placed on one side or the other.

Re:Stupid. (3, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 6 months ago | (#46135381)

Yes, but bookmakers don't set their odds based on an analysis of the event. They set their odds based on the bets they receive. That's *why* they are guaranteed their cut regardless of who wins.

true, except the opening line. Ignorant fuck. (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 6 months ago | (#46135031)

True, the casinos want equal betting on both sides. Therefore, the casinos analyze the odds of who will win only when they open the betting. GP is correct that those predictions are often quite wrong. Additionally, Vegas is full of other professionals who do make predictions of who will win, and most importantly, by how much they'll win. People into sports betting read the expert predictions all the time. These professionals have a pretty poor track record.

All of which means YOU are the ignorant fuck and worse than being ignorant you're a total dickhead.

Re:true, except the opening line. Ignorant fuck. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 6 months ago | (#46138221)

True, the casinos want equal betting on both sides. Therefore, the casinos analyze the odds of who will win only when they open the betting.

You are an idiot. You do understand that the second sentence is not a conclusion that can or even should be drawn from the first, right?

The casinos NEVER analyze the odds of who will win. They analyze public perception. The outcome of the event is irrelevant. Public perception is relevant.

Additionally, Vegas is full of other professionals who do make predictions of who will win, and most importantly, by how much they'll win.

..and they arent bookies, and they dont (ooh let me quote the ignorant fuck you are defending with your own ignorant fuckness) "spend literally millions of dollars computing the odds to a much deeper degree than this foolishness in the summary"

Who was modded informative by people jut as ignorant as him, but probably less ignorant that you. The shit you got wrong was text that was already on your screen at the time you replied.

Re:Stupid - Indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46135117)

Gamblers do not "compute the odds" They just set (and adjust) the odds so that they balance the bets placed, not caring who wins but always taking the "house" margin.

Great (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134525)

This is just as idiotic as the legions of sports 'journalists' who somehow believe that a game between two teams decades ago... with different players, different coaches, different gameplans, different weather, and DIFFERENT league rules has any bearing whatsoever on a game played today. Yet another heinous abuse of statistics by the mathematically illiterate.

And if you haven't read the article... this is not Wolfram's abuse of statistics... this is Nick Kolakowski. He even admits "Just remember that, as always, historical performance can be a pretty poor predictor of current results. Check out how well Wolfram Alpha predicted last year’s Super Bowl." Stop perpetuating mathematical ignorance.

Re: Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134593)

$10000 challenge to ...

Seems like Slashdot has been paid to doPR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134533)

Sadly, a senior editor of Slashdot "had to write" an entire column on Wolfram Alpha ? One wonders was this paid for by Wolfram ? Or personal favor to do some PR gig ?

Re:Seems like Slashdot has been paid to doPR (1, Informative)

jones_supa (887896) | about 6 months ago | (#46134669)

It was written by Nerval's Lobster, a Slashdot reader.

Re:Seems like Slashdot has been paid to doPR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134799)

So how much did they pay Nerval's lobster?

Re:Seems like Slashdot has been paid to doPR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46135203)

If you paid attention you would know that he submits all kinds of stories.

Re:Seems like Slashdot has been paid to doPR (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46136347)

No.

Nerval's Lobster is actually Nick Kolakowski [slashdot.org] , a content-writer who currently works for the Slashdot Business Intelligence / Slashdot Cloud / etc. sites. His title is 'senior editor' at slashdot; previous postings have been at various magazines.*

Check his user account [slashdot.org] . You will so zero (0) comments, and many (>1) story submissions.
Every single story submision Nerval's Lobster has made has been to a slash* story written by Nick Kolakowski.

In other words Nerval's Lobster is a cloak for a Dice-paid slashdot content filler, used in an effort to make submissions to the slashdot spinoff sites seem like they are coming from readers.

* From his bio: "Previously, he served as a staff editor at eWeek, where he specialized in writing about mobility and the cloud. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, Playboy, WebMD, Carrier Pigeon, The Evergreen Review, AutoWeek, and Trader Monthly. He is also the author of “How to Become an Intellectual” (Adams Media, 2012), a book of comedic nonfiction."

Re:Seems like Slashdot has been paid to doPR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46135361)

Just another slashvertisement. Nothing to see here...move on.

Waste of resources (-1, Troll)

bazmail (764941) | about 6 months ago | (#46134547)

Why use these resource to try and predict the outcome of a spendex catchball game. A game that only exists to sell XXXXL clothes and hotdogs to fat wheezing pudding pops.

If its really that good use it to predict terrorism, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or whatever using the relevant data sets.

No More Than Being Human Is (2)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about 6 months ago | (#46134701)

Do you expend CPU time on video to watch television or movies? Do you employ computers whose resources might be better spent elsewhere to post on Slashdot? Do you play video games? If so, you could be putting your efforts and computers toward predicting terrorism, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or whatever using the relevant data sets. As a matter of fact, why are you even reading this comment? You've got work to do, the world needs saving, hop to it.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are merely human. We can fight hard, even heroically, to solve the world's problems. But we need downtime. Even God showed us it was okay to take the day off once in a while.

Re:No More Than Being Human Is (1)

bazmail (764941) | about 6 months ago | (#46134835)

Yes but my computer doesn't cost 10 of millions of dollars and "claim to have changed the world".

Re:No More Than Being Human Is (2)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about 6 months ago | (#46134905)

Indeed. But crunching a few football stats is hardly something that's going to occupy such a machine for long. Plus, the thing isn't always used and wasn't built to be only used to solve the world's problems. It was built to do the calculations necessary to solve problems people care about. It's doing that.

As for "claim to have changed the world", you've something of a point there. But I'd offer two replies. First, the most spectacular pieces of technology are often used in a popular or workaday context as a demonstration to the public. This is no different and it's pretty harmless as such things go. Second, that's just Steven Wolfram for you. Have you ever read the beginning of his book [wolframscience.com] ? They guy's a bit of a megalomaniac. You walk away from reading that thing with the distinct impression that he believes every advancement of science over the past decades is due to the (oft uncited) application of his ideas and every failure to advance is due to a failure to understand his ideas.

who gives a shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134549)

i haven't watched a super bowl in a decade, at least. big fucking deal. great night to go to a movie theater or a nice restaurant (ya know, one that uses real linens and doesn't have televisions or a kids menu).

Re:who gives a shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134691)

Obviously you don't, but do you have to be a fucking asshole about it?

Re:who gives a shit? (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about 6 months ago | (#46134723)

Good for you. You have different tastes than some other people. That makes you better.

Does the Tin Man have a sheet metal cock? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134613)

That's what people want to know.

Who cares? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134623)

It's a game where one team of overpaid men (completely excluding woman go equal rights!) chase a small ball made of leather from one side of a patch of grass to the other.

Don't we have better things to do?

Re:Who cares? (0)

CavemanKiwi (559158) | about 6 months ago | (#46134647)

Are woman excluded? I mean if there is a woman that is good enough do you think the NFL would not recruit her?

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134997)

they have thier own league http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Women's_Football_Association which is not televised

Re:Who cares? (1)

CavemanKiwi (559158) | about 6 months ago | (#46135807)

This is nice and all ( a league that excludes men). But I still feel if the NWFA had a quarter back or kicker that would light up the NFL, they would hire her. I think you will find men are simply better at football then woman. More power more explosive, plus in American culture men are more exposed to football in their youth then girls. I recall a woman did go to the NFL trails to attempt to be a kicker a couple of years ago and her effort was very poor. I think she had a bad day, but no one would have hired on that performance.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134713)

Better things being what you are interested about it seems. What a fucking moron.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134975)

Yup, I'm a medieval reenactor this consumes 80% of my free time I do boring things like wear period accurate full plate (steel) and fight on a field with 20 - 50 other heavy's, with archers shooting at us (with rubber tipped arrows) oh and I can't forget about the siege weapons....

The super bowl is way better than the above..... I mean it has beer and chips and yelling at the TV coz the stupid ref isn't listening to your analysis of your fav teams performance, he should listen to you you painted yourself up in your teams colours and everything!

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46135701)

So what? That might be intresting to you, but not to many others. I'm not telling you should not be interested in that. Who made you the boss of interesting? I'm not even american and i don't have a favorite team, so no painting. I don't drink beer either. So why don't you take your selfish whiny bitching out back and fight that, i bet you can't win.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Maritz (1829006) | about 6 months ago | (#46135487)

It's a game where one team of overpaid men (completely excluding woman go equal rights!) chase a small ball made of leather from one side of a patch of grass to the other.

Don't we have better things to do?

Truly bizarre to see such a comment on Slashdot. Figured most people here would be sports nuts.

Who gives a fuck ? Football is for idiots. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134643)

There is nothing more to say than the above.

Re:Who gives a fuck ? Football is for idiots. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134759)

uuuuuu, you are so much better than me. All hail this AC who is so brave that he comes to a website just to call everybody an idiot who doesn't like the same things as shcle does.

Developed by Stephen Wolfram? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134645)

Developed by Stephen Wolfram

Wolfram alpha wasn't developed by Stephen Wolfram any more than Windows 95 was developed by Bill Gates. They key difference is that one of them has an enormous fortune while the other one has an enormous ego.

Re:Developed by Stephen Wolfram? (3, Funny)

Nivag064 (904744) | about 6 months ago | (#46135495)

Which is which??? :-)

Re:Developed by Stephen Wolfram? (3, Funny)

w_dragon (1802458) | about 6 months ago | (#46137117)

Ask wolfram alpha.

unfair... Re:Developed by Stephen Wolfram? (1)

Fubari (196373) | about 6 months ago | (#46136915)

*shrug* Maybe Wolfram didn't code 100% of Alpha, but it exists because of his vision.
The downside of your hand-waving is that it distracts others away from his ideas and perspective, which is their loss.
So... here is 20 minutes of rather cool geeky viewing; it is well worth watching S.Wolfram walk through his ideas, and talk a bit about WolframAlpha as well:
http://www.ted.com/talks/stephen_wolfram_computing_a_theory_of_everything.html [ted.com]

Yes. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134659)

It looks to me like this is a Bayesian inference problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_inference). The question is this: What is the probability using the Madden game one can predict correctly the winner of the SuperBowl? The prior probability on the correct probabiity p is uniform,.i.e, it's just as likely to be 80% accurate as 11% as 55% etc. -- one can't tell without data. After 10 games we have 8 successes and 2 failures. This is a job for the Beta distribution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_distribution) The posterior probability on p is proportional to p^8(1-p)^2 which has maximum at p= 0.8 and variance 9*3/((9+3)^2(9+3+1) = 0.0144, and std = 0.12, assuming that 95% of the probability centered on p is within 2 std's of p = 0.8 then Pr(p >0.56) >= 0.95, so yeah, I would say it has some predictive ability.

Re:Yes. (1)

Boronx (228853) | about 6 months ago | (#46135619)

You're the only one here who gets it.

Can it calculate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134663)

who gives a shit wheter it can calculate it? If you care, watch it, if you don't, try to find a tv station who is broadcasting anything usefull then the crap is on, roofie yourself or bang your SO(*)

(*) only applies if you're accidentally reading slashdot

Spending time with non-profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134675)

From wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nfl
>At the corporate level, the NFL is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) association

Duh (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46134791)

But while Wolfram Alpha can crunch all the historical data it wants, and that data can suggest one team will likely triumph over another

I could've told you that without any data.

False premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134797)

"Out of the 38 times the two teams have met on the field"

These 2 teams have not met each other of the field 38 times; neither of these teams have even been on the field nearly 38 times. The past performance of different teams that happen to have had the same names is not significant to the performance of these 2 teams.

The answer is obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46134851)

It does not matter WHO wins a silly game. Yes silly because the whole thing is just an awkward interruption to the adverts.
The ONLY winners will be the advertisers pure and simple. The losers are the fools who watch them and get sucked in to the dream they peddle like a street corner drug pusher.
I once worked for an Ad company. I saw from the inside the real story the the campaigns. The aim was how can we keep the suckers hooked on the ads and buying the product despite it usually being total rubbish.

Re:The answer is obvious (1)

Maritz (1829006) | about 6 months ago | (#46135505)

Wishful thinking surely. Everyone I know despises ads and skips/blocks them whenever possible. I don't dispute that they have an affect when people do see them, but 'hooked' on them..?

yes! (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 6 months ago | (#46134933)

but only 50% of the time. ;)

Re:yes! (1)

Maritz (1829006) | about 6 months ago | (#46135511)

50% of the time it's right - every time.

Useless information (1)

OfficeSupplySamurai (1130593) | about 6 months ago | (#46134949)

Also, given how player and coaching rosters vary from year to year, the teams taking the field can change radically between meetings.

This is one of the most important points here. Maybe the '78 Broncos beat the Seahawks, but that has absolutely no bearing on a game almost 4 decades later.

Re:Useless information (1)

Myrddin Wyllt (1188671) | about 6 months ago | (#46136541)

This is a point that has been made several times in the thread, and I'm not sure I fully agree with it. Although the personnel at a team may have changed several times, they don't all change at once, and the team (especially in the wider sense of backroom staff and fans) retains a distinct identity over long periods. Significant events in the past, such as strings of defeats against another team, winning against the odds in key games and especially losing a key game that you looked certain to win, remain embedded in the psyche of a team for decades.
I would agree that the effect of such 'group memories' is minor compared with the value of current form, but to say that it has 'absoloutely no bearing' is, I think, incorrect.
(I am basing this argument on my experience of UK football, rugby union and rugby league teams, and to a lesser extent on observations of large european football teams such as F.C. Barcelona - I have no idea if this transfers to NFL franchises, and while I can't see why it wouldn't, I appreciate that certain factors could well diminish it's effect)

Re:Useless information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46137065)

certain factors could well diminish it's effect

Here's two:

* average NFL career is less than 6 years => more turnover than you might expect
* only 16 games per season => small sample size from which to draw trends

FUCK SLASHDOT BETA BURN IN HELL!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46135045)

Fuck SLASHDOT beta Burn Hell!!!

SLASHDOT is Fucked Burn Hell!!!

SLASHDOT jumped the Shark

Assholes!!!

Can't Comment without LOGGING IN - Fuck You SlashDot

ridiculous data set (0)

globaljustin (574257) | about 6 months ago | (#46135185)

I'm happy to see that many /.'ers are criticizing TFA & Wolfram Alpha

Here's my $0.02...

Their data set is fucking ridiculous...they hooked in **HISTORICAL** stats for the teams for several decades.

There is absolutely zero relationship between how the '82 Broncos played to today's game.

The fact that these researchers used this as their data set is laughable. We should all join in mocking this bullshit study.

Re:ridiculous data set (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46135363)

Yeah, considering how I'd do it, I'd probably go with at most a 4 year examination - 40% for this year, 30-20-10 for the previous years. Short of building an actual game simulator like EA did, I'd probably look at median scoring, yards run/passed and such, then look at other team's averages, and whether other teams performed better/worse than their average, and by how much. For example, is team X better at blocking pass plays? Does team Y get most of it's yardage from passing, meaning it's at a disadvantage against X? Also, look at teams that both X & Y have played recently and weight those more.

For example, if it's found that teams playing X only average 84% of the yards they get normally, maybe we should estimate Y's yardage at 84% of it's average. Stuff like that.

players not teams (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 6 months ago | (#46138215)

it's really about analyzing players not a team

that's why EA's simulator can predict well...it's based on probabilities of events based on statistics from individual players over their career. you can plug in any players into the roster and their system does the math

sure, a coach like Bill Walsh can make a system for a team that becomes so consistent that it *could* be analyzed over several years...but that level of consistency is very rare...the 49'ers west coast offense spanned two QB's, Montana and Young and multiple coaches

that's the rare exception

Priceless (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about 6 months ago | (#46135465)

(1) Story about who will win the Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos
(2) 65 comments
(3) Zero mentions of "Seattle" or "Denver" in the comments.
...Priceless

Re:Priceless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46135585)

There are parts of the world who don't care one jot about the superbowl. You know the rest of the world.
That's why.
For me, the best thing about the Superbowl was the first time Miami were playing the flights out of Miami to Europe were empty.
Bliss
But honestly, we don't frigging care about it ok?

Re:Priceless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46135811)

it's interesting anthropologically. Im going to see if i can pull it up with my free digital OTA receiver. CBC or ctv maybe carry it.

You don't have to care about it to watch one real meatsport per year. Plus I can order a pizza and pig out a bit celebrating the horrid american culture!

Random Things (1)

PaddyM (45763) | about 6 months ago | (#46135661)

The first game of the season the Denver Broncos beat the Ravens in a rematch of the playoff matchup that eliminated the Broncos from the post-season last year. It was the kind of record-setting (7 TDs) moral victory that set the tone for the entire Broncos' season.

Random thing: The Superbowl Champs traditionally open the season at HOME. The only reason the Ravens were at Denver was a scheduling conflict with the Baltimore Orioles. The Ravens ended up missing the playoffs. If they had 1 more victory this season, they would have been in the playoffs.

Superb Owl? (1)

ka9dgx (72702) | about 6 months ago | (#46135669)

No mention of the Superb Owl watching over all this?

Seriously. Why on earth (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46135751)

is this on slashdot?

Nerval's Lobster is a sham account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46136307)

The Nerval's Lobster account is owned by a slashdot editor and content-writer who writes articles for the various slashdout spinoff sites (slashdot business intelligence, etc.).

In order to trick us, Slashdot gets its own editor to submit stories they've written on slashdot spinoff sites, and then gets another editor to post them.

Shameful behavior designed to trick us into thinking that links to slashdot spinoff sites come from real people and aren't slashdot linking to itself.

what a blowout (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46137581)

So, did it predict a blowout or not? 'Cuz that was the worst Superbowl game I've ever seen in my life (since I didn't see the Broncos lose to the 9ers in the nineties or whenever it was).

Guess it didn't. TFA says "It’s definitely advantage Broncos". Great call Wolfie. Great call.

Better predictor (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#46137711)

A seismograph?

summary is bollocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46138079)

that summary could have been a quarter the length.

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