Did Someone Finally Win The Netflix Prize?

from the nice-work dept

For years, we’ve been fascinated by the Netflix Prize — the $1 million offer to any team that can come up with a recommendation algorithm that is shown to be 10% better that Netflix’s current recommendation engine. For years, different teams worked on the problem, and the early improvements were fast, but then progress seemed to stall out. Some different approaches were tested out which pushed the numbers up even further, but getting that last little bit has proven quite elusive… until now. Apparently, two of the leading teams combined efforts and have submitted an entry that breaks the 10% barrier for the first time. If the results are verified, then other teams have 30 days to submit an algorithm that performs even better. But, if they can’t, then this team should win the $1 million… at which point they’re supposed to tell the world how they did it. Seems like a much more innovation friendly approach than locking it up with a patent.

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Companies: netflix

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Comments on “Did Someone Finally Win The Netflix Prize?”

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8 Comments
David T says:

Yay!

The unnoticed nugget here is that Netflix is adding value to their service by respecting their customer’s time.

I’ve found movies through the current rating system that I liked but would never have picked out on my own. Conversely, I’ve watched movies in the theater that I hated and found Netflix’s system reflected my disdain when they became available.

The ability to quickly and accurately sift through decades of media is a major value to this consumer.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Pandora calculates a “musical DNA” for each song by scoring it on a multitude of criteria: beat, chorus, length, sound, instruments, etc.

Pandora then assumes if you like one song, you will like songs with similar DNA.

Netflix uses a more human approach called “Collaborative Filtering” in which they (generally) say “people like you who liked these films ALSO liked this film”.

The main difference is Pandora analyses the music in detail, but Netflix analyzes people’s opinions in aggregate.

Joe Smith says:

a couple of points

There were at least three teams (not two) involved in the final result – BellKor, Chaos and Pragmatic Theory.

The winner has to tell the world how they did it but they are allowed to patent their technique if they can. The rules require disclosure and a non-exclusive licence to Netflix but they do not prohibit patenting and they do not prohibit charging others for the use of the technique.

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