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Mathematician Gives Tips On How To Win $1 Billion On NCAA Basketball 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the winning-the-pool dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jake Simpson reports at The Atlantic that Mathematician Tim Chartier, a Davidson College professor who specializes in ranking methods, teaches a math-heavy form of bracketology — the science of predicting the annual NCAA college basketball tournament at Davidson College in North Carolina. Chartier's academic research is in ranking methods where he looks at things like the page-ranking algorithms of Google. 'In 2009, my collaborator Amy Langville said: "You know what? ESPN has this huge online bracket tournament. Let's create brackets with our ranking methods, just to see if it's creating meaningful information."' Chartier's formula, an evolving code-based matrix that ranks each of the 68 tournament teams, has helped several Davidson students score in the 96th percentile (or higher) in ESPN's bracket challenge and this year, Chartier's goal is to help someone win the $1 billion prize offered by Warren Buffett to anyone who correctly predicts all 63 games of the men's tournament.

Chartier uses two methods. One is the Colley Method, named after astrophysicist Wesley Colley who developed a method used by the BCS for college football (PDF). His basketball method only counts wins and losses, not margin of victory. The other method is the Massey method created by sports statistician Kenneth Massey (PDF), which does integrate scores. Chartier has not been banned from any office pools — at least none that he knows of. But as a result of coming pretty darn close to filling out a perfect bracket just by crunching the numbers, brackets have become a labor of love. 'Now that the brackets are actually out, I've had students in and out of my office all week, sharing new ideas,' says Chartier. 'For me, that's more fun than filling out a bracket. They will all be filling out brackets, so it's like I'm doing parallel processing. I know what might work, but watching them figure out the odds, is a thrill.'"

Comment: Re:Good luck with that (Score 3, Informative) 112

by MorePower (#43629147) Attached to: AI System Invents New Card Games (For Humans)
Monopoly apologists always drag out the "its so much better if you use the 'auction property if it isn't bought' rule". I've never seen a situation where it matters, everyone always buys every single property that they land on. Every single time. Occasionally someone will be a little short on cash (from buying tons of property already) and there's a little bit of "should I really mortgage stuff to buy this property?" But they always do it, nobody ever leaves property unbought.

Comment: Re:Place names (Score 0) 642

by MorePower (#42929455) Attached to: The US Redrawn As 50 Equally Populated States

No, it raises the question. Begging the question is a logical fallacy that doesn't mean anything like what it sounds.

If it doesn't mean anything like what it sounds, then that is a language fail.

Sorry, the "correct" use of the phrase "begs the question" is one of my pet peeves, because it makes no logical sense.

Comment: Re:The TL;DR (Score 3, Informative) 210

by MorePower (#42848005) Attached to: Super Bowl Blackout Caused By Defective Protective Relay

In my experience, most relays have a "Instantaneous" setting that goes off as fast as possible if you have like 20-30 times as much current as should be there, a "Short Time" setting that goes off in few seconds (a fixed time, exactly how long is settable) if the current is several times times what it should be (exactly how much current is settable) and the "Long Time" setting which follows $Fixed_value = [Current]^2 * time ("I squared T").

The "Long Time" setting integrates current squared when ever the current is above the "Pick-up" value which is typically around 20% over normal rated current. Exactly how much the integrated value has to reach to trip on "Long Time" is very complex and has to be coordinated all the other relays and systems. Generally, the lowest level of breakers are given time to trip first, in hopes that the problem is solved while only interrupting a single circuit. The upstream breakers are set with a higher value so they will trip after the downstream breakers had their chance.

Comment: Re:...Huh? (Score 2) 245

by MorePower (#40101815) Attached to: US State Department Hacks Al-Qaeda Websites In Yemen

I can at least understand trying to kill terrorists. Civilians get killed because of our desperation to kill the terrorists. I mean, it's horrible and all, but at least there is an understandable goal there.

This seems just flat out petty. If we hacked websites to locate terrorists, or anticipate attacks, or disrupt their finances, I could understand that. But to hack in and just insert our own video? And admit that we did it? It just makes us look like script kiddies putting "USA rulz!!! LOL OMG" on stuff.

Crap like this makes our enemies hate us just a little bit more, and makes our allies just a little bit more reluctant to support us, and doesn't accomplish anything material.

Comment: Re:Subculture wars (Score 1) 220

by MorePower (#37920862) Attached to: Is the Maker Movement Making It Cool For Kids To Be Nerds?
Hmm, I guess we aren't at all on the same page here. Nerds are not, in my experience, trying to gain social acceptance, they are just trying to enjoy things they enjoy.
I basically see two options here, someone who enjoys D&D/Star Trek/Computer Programming/Whatever can either:
Continue enjoying the things they enjoy and accept the fact that the majority will shun them for it, or
Give up on things they enjoy, and pretend they enjoy things that really don't give them pleasure, so as to try fool their peers into thinking they are more 'normal'.

I've tried both approaches at various times in my life, the second one is not only a very sad way to go through life, but it is also ineffective. The others just see through your sham and shun you anyway.

Being a good person really doesn't enter into it, nerds are generally quite nice and respectful of others (there are exceptions). That is, in fact, one of the "weird" behaviors that set them apart from others, nerd sub-culture doesn't engage in the usual put-downs and insults that "regular" kids like to dish out.

Comment: Re:Subculture wars (Score 3, Insightful) 220

by MorePower (#37916016) Attached to: Is the Maker Movement Making It Cool For Kids To Be Nerds?
You can enjoy Magic the Gathering without forgetting the rest of the world.

Who's forgetting the rest of the world? I'm not sure what you are even getting at here.

You can enjoy D&D and not drone on about it endlessly to people who don't care.

Ok but that's a fairly universal human failure. People who love football (or whatever) are just as likely to drone on about it endlessly to people who don't care. Its just that since there hobbies are more popular they have fewer people complaining (because more people share their love of football/whatever).

Also, all this stuff you mentioned is just entertainment. Do you really think entertainment choices are this important?

Well, your original post already mentioned not giving up computers and math and such. What else does that leave besides entertainment choices to cause one to be labeled as a nerd?

Being labelled is not a behavior. If it doesn't fit, it's a lot less likely to stick.

Ok but usually in this case it does fit and therefore stick. Nerdy kids do, in fact, like nerdy stuff

Preemptively giving up is not really good for much. It's a poor lesson for kids. It tells people they can't count on you for anything.

I don't understand what you are even getting at here. Are nerds giving up on something? The kids are just trying to enjoy things they enjoy, and getting harassed because the majority doesn't enjoy those things and labels them as "uncool".

Comment: Re:Subculture wars (Score 1) 220

by MorePower (#37915234) Attached to: Is the Maker Movement Making It Cool For Kids To Be Nerds?
Why not give up the subculture behaviors and identification instead?

Because the subculture behaviors are things that they enjoy. Magic the Gathering/Japanese Animation/D&D/whatever are things that are appealing and fun for kids of a certain personality type (nerds) and so they associate with other kids with similar interests.

The nerd label comes wether you want it or not. You can try to pretend you don't like that stuff and are into mainstream stuff but that's a pretty sad way to go through life and everyone else usually sees through your fakery anyway.

Comment: Re:And now after the press release (Score 1) 190

by MorePower (#37859278) Attached to: Boeing 787 Dreamliner Makes First Passenger Flight
What annoys me is that nobody offers what is really needed - more elbow room.

My legs fit fine in nearly all airline seats. I hate having to try to suck my arms into my torso in a desperate attempt to avoid physical contact with the stranger next to me.

Business Class fares are completely astronomical. I might consider paying 10%, 20%, or even 50% more to avoid sharing an armrest (that isn't even adequate for one person, let alone two). But last time I checked, Business Class tickets were about $5000, around 4-5 times economy class tickets. (I was comparing LAX to Hong Kong at the time)

Comment: Re:Limits are necessary, or are they? (Score 2) 166

by MorePower (#37813702) Attached to: NH Supreme Court To Rule On Bigfoot Video Shoot In Public Park
If that's true though, then there should be no talk about permits. If "Bigfoot's" activities actually constitute harassment or if there is a legitimate public safety issue, then the Park should be flat out saying "no you can't do that".

By making it a "you don't have a permit" issue, it really smacks of the park rangers don't like it, but it hasn't actually crossed the line.

I mean, are they saying you CAN harass/endanger people as long as you do get a permit?

Comment: Re:flid (Score 1) 333

by MorePower (#37812852) Attached to: A Silicon Valley School That Doesn't Use Computers
I sure as hell did when I was in primary and secondary school! Yeah I don't have to think about it NOW, after having done it for decades. But in my childhood 95% of the effort of writing was concentrating on making the letters actually look like letters. And that seriously bogged down the actual process of learning how to write well. I was pretty much saved by the introduction of widespread computers when I was in High School.

Comment: Re:C as the Speed of Light (Score 1) 1088

by MorePower (#37487234) Attached to: CERN Experiment Indicates Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos
I have long thought (in a purely speculative way) that Einstein's logic is circular when he defines relativity. He basically starts with the assumption that "simultaneous" means when the light of two events reaches an observer at the same time and then does the math to make this all work.

But even if the ultimate speed limit of the universe was faster than the speed of light, anything effect that propagates electromagnetically would still appear to follow relativity with light speed as the fastest possible speed. And 99.9999% of everything we observe is the result of electromagnetic interaction.

And which force is it that doesn't affect neutrinos? hmmmmmm

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