Progress Made Towards Netflix Prize

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A number of people were suspicious when the Netflix Prize was announced. $1 million isn’t much of a reward, some complained, and others believed that it would be difficult to improve upon the site’s movie recommendation algorithm. Now, a little over one week into the contest, three teams have already beaten the existing system.

The best of these efforts, as they stand now, will only qualify for the $50,000 “Progress Prize.” The $1 million is reserved for the first team to achieve a 10% improvement, and the Leaderboard currently tops out with The Thought Gang’s 1.06% tweak.

The contest appears to be drawing quite a crowd, though. “There currently 10208 contestants on 8381 teams from 99 different countries,” according to the Leaderboard. Things seem to be picking up, as well – Netflix has “received 92 valid submissions; 26 in the last 24 hours.”

It seemed like a good time to check in again on the story. Several articles appeared yesterday to announce WXYZ Consulting’s 0.9430% improvement, and although that record has already fallen by the wayside, the pieces still offer insight into how the Netflix Prize is regarded.

Jim Bowery posted on Slashdot, and wrote, “This is pretty impressive given the previously quoted researcher who said: You’re competing with 15 years of really smart people banging away at the problem.'”

Techdirt’s Mike admitted to “coming around.” “A week ago, we weren’t sure if there really were that many people who would be willing to help Netflix improve their recommendation engine for just the chance at winning a million dollars . . . . Apparently, we severely underestimated the competitive nature of Netflix fans.”

Skeptics still exist, though. “Spartacus” responded to Mike’s article, writing, “They . . . are not even a tenth of the way to the grand prize of 1 million dollars. So I don’t think this is that mind blowing yet.” That’s fair. I also like the use of the word “yet.”


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Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.

Progress Made Towards Netflix Prize
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