America’s Next Top Predictive Modeler

A new dramality series features NetFlix super-model Cinematch that gives real people the opportunity to prove they can make it in the high-stress, high-stakes world of super-predictive modeling. The contest follows a group of data nerds of various backgrounds, shapes and sizes, who vie for a $1 million prize. (Thanks America’s Top Model)

NetFlix, the online DVD rental service, has put together a contest that is the analytics equivalent of the X-prize. Finally a chance for data junkies to step out of their windowless offices onto the proverbial catwalk.

The contest asks participants to try to improve the accuracy of the company’s existing Cinematch recommendation engine by 10%. According to the NetFlix prize web site, the Cinematch recommendation engine is designed to:

"...predict whether someone will enjoy a movie based on how much they liked or disliked other movies. We use those predictions to make presonal movie recommendations based on each customer’s unique tastes."

Entering is simple: sign up your "team" and download the anonymized data set of NetFlix users and their ratings by movie. From what I read on the forums, the data set is actually quite shallow, so the initial thinking is that an improved system will require linking to additional data sources like to add richness to the modeling.