Computer scientists take hats off to sports bookies

Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University say plowing through millions of tweets to gauge fan sentiment probably isn't going to help you make a mint betting on NFL games, though doing this themselves has given them newfound respect for sports bookies.

The researchers, who will report the findings of a study of three years' worth of Twitter posts at an upcoming analytics conference in Prague, were trying to figure out if crunching numbers based on the microblogging site's content could make predicting football game outcomes any easier.

Their conclusion was that using machine learning tools to analyze the tweets (42 million a day during the 2012 season) wasn't helpful with winning over/under bets or predicting straight game results, but was slightly helpful in picking against the spread (55% accurate). Why? Because bookmakers take into account things like fan sentiment in setting point spreads, and the CMU researchers were analyzing tweets based on volumes of hashtags about specific teams, plus looking for positive or negative words in such posts.

"One thing that surprised us is how hard setting the point spread is to do well," said Christopher Dyer, assistant professor in CMU's Language Technologies Institute, in a statement. "And the sports books are very, very good."

It wouldn't surprise the researchers if sports bookies are doing a little Twitter analyzation of their own.

However, they probably aren't getting funding for their research like CMU, whose work on this has been backed by the National Science Foundation and Sandia National Laboratories. Researchers in recent years have analyzed tweets for various reasons, from predicting elections to spotting disease hotspots.

Math and computing whizzes increasingly have been using their minds and machines to forecast sports results, too, including for major league baseball and college basketball.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +. 

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Innovations in retail will bring creative and technology closer than ever

While approaching a customer in a shop and asking what you can help them with is Retail 101, how many of us actually enjoy being approached? Generally, you have to give the forced, fake smile and say, “Just browsing, thanks,” while screaming on the inside, “just leave me alone!” Maybe it’s just me?

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

There’s a brand in my digital soup

Not a day passes by in the life of business executives where digital innovation or the prospect of disruption is not front of mind. This in turn, drives an unrelenting flow of questioning, discussion and strategy papers.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Can marketers trust agencies again?

Unless you’ve been marketing under a rock, you’ll probably have questioned whether your media agencies are offering you transparency.

Nic Halley

Founder and managing director, Mindbox

Nice post Brad! very useful information. The retail stores are really mean for every brand I am agree with you. Now Online Service Market...

Srialto

The rise of online retail marketplaces and what they mean for brands

Read more

Minor correct Nadia, just wanted to clarify that the "Marketo consultants" that did this work, were actually Hoosh consultants

Fab Capodicasa

What it's taking for Edible Blooms to grow a stronger personalisation strategy

Read more

Im not surprise though, been in the industry for couple of years and I feel and see it with my tow eyes how eCommerce platforms innovated...

Jason Smith

Australia Post earmarks $20m for Australian ecommerce innovation investment

Read more

For marketers that are "going Agile" I recommend using Ravetree. It's a really powerful suite of tools for Agile project management, reso...

Janice Morgan

7 ways to run your marketing department like a software startup

Read more

Over the years very part of our lives has become technological. That’s why I am not surprised to see that Australian home loans are going...

GreatDayTo

Why Aussie Home Loans is embracing digital transformation

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in