Basement hackers compete to best Netflix recommendations $1M

Posted by Artem Russakovskii on November 30th, 2008 in Programming, Technology

image This is a great read by NY Times. An article on 6 pages rarely gets my full attention but this is one of them (though I detest the usage of "basement hacker").

Basement hackers and amateur mathematicians are competing to improve the program that Netflix uses to recommend DVDs — and to win $1 million in the process.

"THE “NAPOLEON DYNAMITE” problem is driving Len Bertoni crazy. Bertoni is a 51-year-old “semiretired” computer scientist who lives an hour outside Pittsburgh. In the spring of 2007, his sister-in-law e-mailed him an intriguing bit of news: Netflix, the Web-based DVD-rental company, was holding a contest to try to improve Cinematch, its “recommendation engine.” The prize: $1 million.

Cinematch is the bit