Netflix’ $1million Prize Won by BellKor

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Netflix’ offered prize of $1 million to the people that could provide it with 10% more accurate recommendations has been awarded to Belkor, despite some fumbling towards the competition’s end.

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The Netflix competition opened in 2006, attracting massive interest from statisticians everywhere. The aim was to do provide a “collaborative filtering algorithm” that would significantly surpass the one Netfilx was already using. The New York Times is reporting that Netflix has announced a winner to the competition, but it’s not without some confusion.

To cut a long story short, the rules of the whole competition called for a one month wait after a team managed to pass the necessary 10% mark to see if other teams would be spurred on to outdo the first team to pass it. If not, then the prize would go to the first group to manage to hit the 10% mark.

Things were especially frustrating for The Ensemble, which made its own entry in the last moments of BellKor’s month-long wait. In The Ensemble’s own test, it came out 0.01% ahead, but when Netflix checked it seems as though the two were dead even. Unfortunately for The Ensemble, that means that BellKor has won the $1 million Netflix prize.

Of course, immediately after it ended a lot of people came to the realisation that Netflix had, essentially, got about three years of fairly heavy-duty research done on the cheap. Clearly, Netflix was among those making the realisation, because shortly afterward it emerged that the Netflix Prize 2 would reward those who managed to build “taste profiles” out of the data Netflix already has. Moreover, the new prize will award $500,000 for the team ahead after six months, with another half a million going to the team in the lead at the one year mark.

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