Monday, October 02, 2006

Netflix: $1 million award!

"Netflix, the popular online movie rental service, is planning to award $1 million to the first person who can improve the accuracy of movie recommendations based on personal preferences. To win the prize, which is to be announced today, a contestant will have to devise a system that is more accurate than the company’s current recommendation system by at least 10 percent. And to improve the quality of research, Netflix is making available to the public 100 million of its customers’ movie ratings, a database the company says is the largest of its kind ever released."
It was a huge wave today among some of the students in my lab; because of this article coming up in the Times today! Phew, folks giving a try to earn some $1 million in one shot with a recommendation algorithm that can override the existing Netflix one performance-wise (10%)! Reading the following paragraph in the news, it seems that it is the new strategy of the industry/certain defence organizations to put the toughest research issue in a competition awarding decent money! Other than Netflix, there has been other attempts by others too like,
"Cash prizes in other difficult technical areas have been offered in recent years. In 2004, there was the $10 million Ansari X Prize for a reusable spacecraft. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is again running a contest involving robotic vehicles with the first prize $2 million. And NASA is offering prize money ranging from $200,000 to more than $5 million for building equipment including lunar excavators and solar sails — large mirror-based equipment intended to collect solar power and conserve rocket fuel."
So keep your fingers crossed guys, it is possible that my lab will be the most amply funded lab in the world sometime soon...
Anyways, this idea can be critiqued as well being a stingy/improvident investment too, apart from the fact that it can yield to a fast solution to an exisitng research problem!

2 comments:

Shreeharsh said...

What's wrong with a "fast solution to an existing problem"? As long as it works better than Netflix's original algorithm...

Munmun said...

Seems there is some confusion: fast as in quick, I didnt mean computationally fast!!
It of course is a fast solution (when better than the netflix one!): now see so many students/professionals/groups are working on it at the same time because of the award money; it is likely to yield a solution sooner; otherwise had they collaborated with some school, then it would be probably a few students working on it: definitely, the chances of it yielding a solution than the current one might take sometime as well!