Netflix Prize Snatched Away at Last Moment?

Posted in Software Development, The Internet by Dan on July 26th, 2009

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.