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Statistical Data Analysis

Data analytics expert says Panthers will win Super Bowl 27-20

Partha Sen is the CEO of a startup called Fuzzy Logix, which specialises in analysing data without it ever leaving a database. But in his spare time he uses his knowhow in another way too - predicting sporting results, elections and other events.

Sen runs a blog called Numbers Don’t Lie, often focused on his beloved cricket; he lives in Charlotte, North Carolina but hails from cricket-mad India and cricket is perhaps one of the world’s sports most receptive to statistical querying. (Look at the terrific website ESPN CricInfo for an example of a non-US sport that is obsessed by running the numbers, averages, records and gambling.)

Despite starting out with serious doubts over the role of dumb luck in the Super Bowl, Sen was persuaded by friends to apply his nous to American football. In a spirit of scientific research and fun, he built (and I quote) “a multifactor linear regression model” to forecast points scored, looking at key patterns that affect the outcome of games.

In his work he discovered that the model’s predictive power is actually “reasonably high” – look at the results on his site and you’ll see that the win/lose predictions based on his formulae were right more than eight-and-a-half times out of 10 when applied to earlier games. Even points scored were very closely matched and in some cases the prediction was perfect.

Analysing the data based on earlier games, Sen believes the Carolina Panthers have a 77 per cent chance of winning Super Bowl 50 this Sunday, with the predicted score being Panthers 27, Denver Broncos 20.

As a disclaimer, we can’t recommend you stake your money on Sen’s predictions of course… and he will be on a flight to India when the game takes place.

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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