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Math The Almighty Buck

World Cup Forecasting Challenge For Quants 111

Posted by timothy
from the kickoff-in-four-days dept.
databuff writes "As a break from projecting the strength of subprime mortgages, credit default swaps, and other obscure financial instruments, quantitative analysts at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, UBS, and Danske Bank have modeled the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Now Kaggle has set up a forecasting competition, allowing statisticians to go head-to-head with these corporate giants. The challenge is to predict how far each country will progress in the tournament."
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World Cup Forecasting Challenge For Quants

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  • Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bloodhawk (813939) on Monday June 07, 2010 @04:10AM (#32481698)
    There are numerous problems here.

    Firstly is very few fans of football can truly consider themselves independent enough to do this well. I will try, but I just know my bias's will in the end have some effect on the outcome of my selections.

    Secondly it isn't just about stats at something like the world cup where there are very few second chances and It is a game where you can completely dominate the opposition and still lose to a single error or bad ref decision.
  • Re:Bias (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitig (1056110) on Monday June 07, 2010 @04:47AM (#32481820)

    Secondly it isn't just about stats at something like the world cup where there are very few second chances and It is a game where you can completely dominate the opposition and still lose to a single error or bad ref decision.

    How does that differ from what the quants usually deal with?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, 2010 @05:33AM (#32481986)

    You're not as clever as you think you are.

  • by SoVeryTired (967875) on Monday June 07, 2010 @05:53AM (#32482044)

    I'm not sure the distinction you are using. Quants predict nothing. They are used to see which companies appear undervalued, and thus would be good values (and not in the sense of a value vs growth company). They are also used to determine which appear overpriced.

    I think that's more like a financial analyst. A quant typically works one level of abstraction away from the stock market itself, calculating prices and hedging strategies for stock options or credit default swaps, say.

    I know there's a lot of anti-quant sentiment around at the moment, and this being slashdot, I'd like to add a disclaimer: I'm just trying to describe the job that a quant does in theory. I'm not making any statement about whether the methods they use at present are effective. Please keep that in mind before flaming me.

  • Re:Bias (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Starcub (527362) on Monday June 07, 2010 @06:43AM (#32482204)

    Secondly it isn't just about stats at something like the world cup where there are very few second chances and It is a game where you can completely dominate the opposition and still lose to a single error or bad ref decision.

    When I was in college, my buddies and I would frequently bet our money on the dog races. They published detailed stats for every race and you could compile a statistical profile of each performer. In fact, I wrote a program that attempted to predict the position of each dog in the race as the race progressed. However, what was not provided and could not be predicted is what dog would lose it's footing and go tumbling to the far rail and which part of the pack he would take with him.

  • Re:Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aBaldrich (1692238) on Monday June 07, 2010 @07:23AM (#32482348)
    Here in Argentina we use to say that statistics are like miniskirts: they give you a nice idea, but hide the most important things.
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday June 07, 2010 @07:30AM (#32482368) Homepage Journal

    I mean, the financial market is still a mess and I'd rather have them working on the real issues we face.

    I'd say anything that distracts them is a good thing. Of course I'm saying that based on their previous performance, which is exactly the kind of thinking that got us into the mess.

  • lmao (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alinabi (464689) on Monday June 07, 2010 @09:43AM (#32483688)
    Who knew JP Morgan had a sense of humor? I mean, England World Champions? Hilarious!
  • by Buelldozer (713671) <{cliff} {at} {gindulis.net}> on Monday June 07, 2010 @11:29AM (#32485172)

    My son plays competitively on a travelling team at the 11 year old level and there is one team that they frequently play who uses this tactic. It's unbelievably infuriating that they get away this bullcrap at tournament after tournament! My son's team plays ultra clean and we play 85% or more of our games without a roughness call, but when we play this other team there will be at least three against us!

    I'm a calm soccer parent, the kind that's telling the loudmouths to sit down and shut up but when we play this team I want to charge the field and twist the ref into a pretzel! It's so blindingly obvious that this other team is acting, and poorly at that, that I'm stupefied at the referees who give them call after call.

    We played the aforementioned team at a tournament this weekend and I witnessed an elbow to the solar plexus so vicious that it left my son gasping for air and unable to move for lack of breath. No call for that since my son isn't a part time actor. 10 minutes earlier though when he used a shoulder to push off a player the ref was all over it, resulting in a PK for a goal. Players who go down screaming and crying in apparently agonizing pain but who are up and ready to take a PK 30 seconds after the ref runs over? How does this happen time after time in the same game without the ref figuring out that they're being played for fools?

    In my opinion players who ham it up and pretend to be hurt, at any level of play, in order to gain advantage are cowards who should be booed by the fans and ignored by the referees.

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