30 days ago, the BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos team submitted the first qualifying solution for the $1 million Netflix prize. The prize is awarded to the best performing solution 30 days after first submission that achieves the 10% improvement threshold.
BellKor achieved 10.05% on 26th June and have since moved on to 10.08%. Several teams that were close to the qualifying mark responded by forming coallitions in a frantic race to find a hybrid solution that would surpass BellKor’s mark before the end of the 30 day period.
The Ensemble is one of these super teams. They achieved the 10% mark two days ago and then today, on the very last day of the competition, they appear to have dramatically snatched the prize with a submission that is just 0.01% better than BellKor’s.
UPDATE: BellKor subsequently submitted an entry that matched the Ensemble’s 10.09% only for the Ensemble to trump that 20 minutes later with a score of 10.10%, 4 minutes before the submissions closed.
UPDATE 2: Simon Owens has posted an interview with one of the members of the winning Ensemble team.
UPDATE 3: The Ensemble themselves have posted an account of the nail-biting final minutes of the competition.