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Can Wolfram Alpha Tell Which Team Will Win the Super Bowl? 126

Nerval's Lobster writes "Which football team will win the Super Bowl this weekend? That's a multi-million-dollar question, given the amount of cash people will bet on either the Seattle Seahawks or the Denver Broncos to win. Fortunately, Wolfram Alpha (the self-billed "computational knowledge engine") can analyze the historical statistics for both teams and throw out some potentially useful numbers. Developed by Stephen Wolfram and based his Wolfram Research's Mathematica analytical platform, Wolfram Alpha is an altogether different search engine from Bing or Google, which generally return pages of blue hyperlinks in response to queries. Instead of multiple results leading to still other Webpages, Wolfram Alpha usually returns set of definitive, numerical answers. (A lengthy rundown of the engine's capabilities is found on its 'About' page.) So how does Wolfram's engine, which features sophisticated algorithms chewing through trillions of pieces of data, break down the potentials for Sunday's game? Out of the 38 times the two teams have met on the field, the Broncos have triumphed 25 times (versus 12 wins for the Seahawks), scoring 98 total touchdowns to the Seahawks' 84. It's definitely advantage Broncos, in that sense. But the teams' percentages are fairly close with regard to total yardage, penalties, penalty yards, and other metrics, although the Seahawks have managed to nab more interceptions (47, versus the Broncos' 37). But while Wolfram Alpha can crunch all the historical data it wants, and that data can suggest one team will likely triumph over another, there's always the likelihood that something random—a freak injury, or a tweak to the player lineup—can change the course of the game in ways that nobody can anticipate. Also, given how player and coaching rosters vary from year to year, the teams taking the field can change radically between meetings." EA has correctly predicted eight of the last ten Super Bowl winners using the latest Madden game.
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Can Wolfram Alpha Tell Which Team Will Win the Super Bowl?

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  • Stupid. (Score:4, Informative)

    by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Sunday February 02, 2014 @12:58PM (#46134513) Homepage

    There are hundreds of millions, nay billions, of dollars at stake every year gambling on the superbowl. Bookmakers in vegas spend literally millions of dollars computing the odds to a much deeper degree than this foolishness in the summary, and even they are not even close to 100% accurate.

    If the bookmakers in Vegas can not guarantee their predictions, neither can Wolfram Alpha.

  • by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @01:33PM (#46134669)
    It was written by Nerval's Lobster, a Slashdot reader.
  • Re:Stupid. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 02, 2014 @01:40PM (#46134711)

    No, bookmakers don't compute odds. They compute (and recompute) a number that will put 50% of the betting population on each side of the line. It has nothing to do with who is going to win.

  • Re:Stupid. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @03:49PM (#46135381)

    Yes, but bookmakers don't set their odds based on an analysis of the event. They set their odds based on the bets they receive. That's *why* they are guaranteed their cut regardless of who wins.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 02, 2014 @07:14PM (#46136347)


    Nerval's Lobster is actually Nick Kolakowski [], a content-writer who currently works for the Slashdot Business Intelligence / Slashdot Cloud / etc. sites. His title is 'senior editor' at slashdot; previous postings have been at various magazines.*

    Check his user account []. You will so zero (0) comments, and many (>1) story submissions.
    Every single story submision Nerval's Lobster has made has been to a slash* story written by Nick Kolakowski.

    In other words Nerval's Lobster is a cloak for a Dice-paid slashdot content filler, used in an effort to make submissions to the slashdot spinoff sites seem like they are coming from readers.

    * From his bio: "Previously, he served as a staff editor at eWeek, where he specialized in writing about mobility and the cloud. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, Playboy, WebMD, Carrier Pigeon, The Evergreen Review, AutoWeek, and Trader Monthly. He is also the author of “How to Become an Intellectual” (Adams Media, 2012), a book of comedic nonfiction."

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