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Wolfram Alpha Number-Crunches the Super Bowl 67

Nerval's Lobster writes "Whatever your actual feelings about football and this weekend's Super Bowl, you have to admire Wolfram Alpha's willingness to crunch any dataset and see what it can find. The self-billed 'computational knowledge engine' has analyzed the historical data for both teams involved in this Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII. Its conclusion? The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are 'annoyingly similar' when it comes to numbers, although some players stand out as potential game changers — if the math plays out right."
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Wolfram Alpha Number-Crunches the Super Bowl

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's what it is, no need to crunch numbers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by peragrin ( 659227 )

      your not that far off the mark, not with mandatory 120 second time outs every 5 minutes for commercials

      seriously, when the commercials are worth more than the very boring game

      American football needs three very minor changes.

      No more field breaks for commercials,
      The three point field goal should be worth 2 points.
      The 2 point conversion should be worth at least 4 points, I like the score doubling 6 myself.

      Strategically if your in your 4th down and have more than 1 yard to go you kick the ball currently. These

      • by DiamondGeezer ( 872237 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @11:05AM (#42777705) Homepage

        Have you actually seen rugby? Its like American football minus all the interruptions, advertising and Tebowing. And when you get tackled you don't bounce off the shoulder pads.

        Seriously I know that American TV is paid for by advertising, but its seriously unwatchable. After 30 minutes my brain was so addled by constant interruptions that I watched QTV and actually wanted to buy something, anything.

        No wonder America has a drug and violence problem - its caused by constant TV interruptions that eventually cause your brain to .... hey, a squirrel!

        • No America' ADHD problem is caused by TV that stops every 5 minutes to show 2 minutes of hey a squirrel driving a car.

        • by Cinder6 ( 894572 )

          I'm American, but I spent a month in Germany on the foreign exchange program several years back. I didn't watch much TV, but from what I remember, there were still commercials--just much fewer breaks, with a long set of commercials after the show (or before the next one, if you prefer). It was pretty damned nice, actually, for obvious reasons. Of course, this made it easier to not watch commercials, which is why they will never do something similar here.

          I haven't actually had to watch commercials in years.

          • by LoRdTAW ( 99712 )

            Adult Swim does this and I wish other networks would follow suit. Even if its a 30 minute time slot they air the first half/quarter/third, break for a quick commercial block and then show the rest of the program uninterrupted. Then they show a 5+ minute commercial block until the next program airs. Its a perfect setup as it is no where near as obnoxious and I can easily tolerate the quick break. During the final break I can do something like get a drink, use bathroom etc.

            Of course the advertisers would prob

        • by phik ( 2368654 )
          I am reposting this as a non-AC:
          I have seen Rugby. I went to the University of Stellenbosch for a semester. The US Maties won the national Championship in South Africa. I also went to Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas. The TTU RedRaiders never were good enough to win the national title, but they were good at the time.
          Not a SINGLE rugby player on the Maties could have made the squad at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders had a tight end that was 260 pounds that was faster than ANYONE (even the speedy wings)
          • reposting as well

            but that's the point - you have to sacrifice *a lot* for endurance and versatility on the field. If all you do is sprint for 5 seconds every 3 minutes your training is tailored for that specific goal but you wont be as good at running and tackling and running and tackling for 5 minutes straight like in rugby, where there are very few interruptions. Assuming 1-10 stats, it's desirable to have a bunch of 8s and 9s in rugby, while at the same time in football it's better to have one or two 10s

        • Americans don't want rugby. Rugby is there for the watching and we choose not to watch it. Why turn something into something else that has been rejected? Where's the logic? Football looks good on TV; it is a big reason it is such a part of American culture.
      • by Alomex ( 148003 )

        I remember the old days when soccer was a slow and boring sport. Actually it still is, but now thanks to commercials and timeouts and all manner of other interruptions American Football, Baseball and Basketball are even more boring.

        Presently the only fast action team sport available on TV is hockey.

    • As an American, I must say that you're quite correct.

      American football is not football. Hell, you don't even use your feet because you can't let the ball touch the field! The foot needs to be put back into football.

      All it is otherwise is basketball, except the ball must travel according to the rules and tackling is allowed. Based on that alone, basketball is arguably more difficult than American football when you take into consideration that basketball requires you to dribble and run and know when to pas

  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Skiron ( 735617 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @10:34AM (#42777487) Homepage
    Why do you yanks have to analyse everything? Just get on and play the bloody game.
    • Having a good idea of the outcome ahead of time prepares us for disappointment, and leads to fewer futbol, er, football riots?
    • I calculated you would say that.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Why do you yanks have to analyse everything? Just get on and play the bloody game.

      Because people love to put money on the line and analyzing the data before hand lets them pretend to be informed gamblers?

      Betting on sport is probably as old as sport itself, as is analyzing all the data to see who has the best odds.

  • by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @10:40AM (#42777527)
    I personally use Chef Johns analysis of throwing chicken wing bones. It's never failed.
  • " a stray gust of wind at a crucial moment—could alter the dynamics"...in the NO SuperDome?
    • Unless it's a sealed homogeneous environment, yes. Pretty sure they've got some ventilation, which means moving air.
  • by cellocgw ( 617879 ) <cellocgw@NOSpAm.gmail.com> on Sunday February 03, 2013 @10:58AM (#42777657) Journal

    did they remember to include the "any given Sunday" function in their algorithm? :-)

    BTW, What you *should* be watching today is http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/puppy-bowl [discovery.com]

  • Most of the betting lines I see have San Francisco by just a few points, which fits with WolframAlpha's analysis of a slight advantage to them.

    • Re:Betting lines (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @11:47AM (#42777965)
      Unfortunately (or fortunately) betting lines arent set based on the games likely outcome but instead are set based on public perception of the games likely outcome. The goal of the the betting line is to get equal amounts of money wagered on each team, and if successful the bookie walks away with 10% of the action because the winning wagers only get paid $10 on their $11 wager.
      • I know that's how bookies work, but I figured putting real money on the line would help ensure accuracy because it would help people take it seriously, that plus a large sample size.
        Sports betting does have some skill in trying to figure out if the bookies/betting public are wrong, as opposed to some other forms of gambling being complete chance, but I don't want to put too much stock in trying to beat the system. Ironically, trying to beat the system could just encourage gambling, exactly what the system w

  • I don't like football. I love it.

    Played it for just shy of 50 years...so far. Coached it, sideline ref'd it. Took up punting as a solo/zen hobby. You name it, I love it.

    I played soccer when young (English parents), but it is not one-tenth of the game football is.

    I played more tennis, from age 6 to 16, than any other sport and than anyone I knew. I got good at it and am still good at it. I've take time off work to watch the majors. And it is not one-fifth of the game football is.

    I suck at golf so nuff said.

    It is funny to hear people praising rugby instead of football. Talk about whistle-prone. Rugby has its moments, as does Aussie rules football. But they are not one-third of the game football is.

    World cup soccer only comes once every four years. Same for the Olympics. Pity, or they might come close to American football

    But there can be only one. Long live football. American football.

    ...a former Canuck who always hated the Canadian version -- the 3 downs forcing the game to be unbalanced toward passing, the ultra wide field that made the game hard to appreciate up close and the imperfect football -- try throwing one of each country's footballs and you'll see what I mean.

    • World cup soccer only comes once every four years

      What about the World Cup of American Football - once in how many years is it held?

    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @12:46PM (#42778281)
      I enjoy watching American football, it's big at all levels where I live. However, one of your comments just doesn't make any sense.

      It is funny to hear people praising rugby instead of football. Talk about whistle-prone. Rugby has its moments, as does Aussie rules football. But they are not one-third of the game football is

      A typical American football play lasts 3-4 seconds followed by 30-40 seconds of nothing. While Rugby also has some downtime, you don't see frequent substitutions and the players play offense and defense. Even if the typically play goes on for only 3-4 seconds, the following down time usually is just another 3-4 seconds.

      • What doesn't make sense is the average rugby whistle. It is perhaps the most unintuitive sport there is. The average sports person has no idea what a "knock on" is, yet these stop the play far too frequently.

        Brutality: The scrum is pretty savage, yet little is ever said about it. Such a rough game puts it out of reach for most. Football can be as well, but personally I only played tackle with my friends -- college intramurals were flag football, and I "coached" some K5ers in 2-hand touch.

        Rugby has a

    • How about, instead of listing a bunch of sports and saying football is better, you talk about football and say why it's so great? Without giving reasons you just sound like a fanboy, but if you'd listed some good things about football, that would have been a great post.
      • When it comes to (arguably) inconsequential topics such as sports on an internet message board, a non scientific personal preference is a fine reason to say something is great. Maybe you won't win any arguments or convert people but its good that GP was modded up if only to let /.ers know that other users have opinions that may differ from their own and to give said opinions a once over every now and then.
        • Just like I'm in the VI camp, right? EMACS sucks, is that what you're saying?
          • Yes. If you decode my post, the hidden message is that EMACS sucks. Seriously though, GP's post is different because I'm guessing VI/EMACS fans are both well represented here compared to football fans. And re-reading his post, there are several reasons to like football in there: hobby aspects of the kicking game, fewer fouls than in rugby, more frequent than the WC, better rules than the Canadian/Aussie version. I'll admit that sometimes even trolls inspire me to stop browsing the forum and take a deeper lo
            • Anyway, his post is fine. I was just giving him a suggesting that would make it great. Because I think he probably has some interesting things to say on the topic.
      • Ok, here are a few comments, right before kickoff, on why I like football more than other sports:

        -1- A true team sport. Not sure any other sport comes close.

        -2- The personal commitment required to play it well. I recall some golfer who never practiced in the off season, just tossed his clubs in the garage...yet he was a world class golfer. Hockey comes closest on this one -- nothing like losing teeth or getting gashed up yet coming back for the rest of the game to show your commitment level.

        -3- Com

        • Good reasons.
        • soccer is predictable? 1 lucky shot + otherwise shitty effectiveness on both sides = you win. It's not like an all-star team lost a game ever because the opposing team scored a single goal with their only shot on goal and managed to stave off the steamroller by the skin of their teeth.

          Soccer on average has much fewer scoring events and that means the flukes have statistically greater chance to skew the outcome of the game. Assuming touchdown = goal, football is like a soccer with tons of 5:3 results (hocke

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not. The teams are remarkably similar with a few standout players? That's his conclusion? No duh. And, this is relevant how?

    If he made a prediction with a point spread and numbers of each player (running, passing, etc) that matched up to the final result (but, published beforehand), that would be newsworthy. This is a waste of time and bandwidth.

  • We're a very scientific nation. At some point though you just gotta realize that so many people here like to gamble that understanding the odds makes for higher winnings. Imagine a bunch of nerds complaining about how a calculator is used.
  • Let's analyze those. :P

  • If Wolfram Alpha is suppose to be able to crunch the numbers to give you information. How come if you ask it for the worlds current population it gives you 6.79 billion and says this is a 2009 estimate. Why cant it work out a 2013 estimate?

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger