Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's in a name?

As most of our readers must have already seen, we made a big splash today by forming a coalition with our closest competitors. There will be time to answer all of the burning questions about the joined team, but for now, I would like to start on a lighter note: the team name.

While BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos may not be the sexiest of names, in the end, it was chosen because we felt that it best served the main purpose which was to give credit to each joining team and to provide instant recognition of what the new team represented. Also, it had a better ring to it than some other combinations like Pragmatic BellKor Chaos or PT in BK in BT.

This was a tough decision, because we came up with quite a few creative ideas. Here is a rundown of all the names that were discussed along the way. Credit goes out to all members of the coalition.

First runner up:
The Usual Suspects - This idea stems from a quote in the movie Casablanca ("Round up the usual suspects"). While this is certainly a catchy name, we (PT) didn't feel that it included us entirely because we have not been recognized officially in the past, so are not immediate "usual suspects".

Second runner up:
Million Dollar Baby - A most appropriate movie reference. This was the early favorite, but was eliminated because we felt that putting emphasis on the financial aspect didn't represent the spirit of the contest or of our coalition. This is also why we eliminated Show Me The Money as a potential name.

Category cocky:
Resistance is Futile - With the release of the new Star Trek movie, we thought that this quote was pretty cool... but perhaps a bit too aggresive.
The Dream Team - Again, a bit too arrogant, but this one is also a funny movie reference. Imagine a bunch of patients in a psychiatric ward working on the Netflix prize...
Catch Us If You Can - Another movie reference, but we didn't want to tempt people into actually catching us...

Category movie quotes:
Gonna Need a Bigger Boat (Jaws) - I love this one... I can imagine 7 guys from around the globe, that don't know each other too much, piled into this small life raft trying to get away from this huge shark... "Yeah, hmmm, I think we're gonna need a bigger boat here..."

Other suggested quotes:
Not in Kansas Anymore (Wizard of Oz)
Go Ahead, Make My Day (Sudden Impact)
Like A Box of Chocolates (Forrest Gump )
Another Nice Mess (Laurel and Hardy)
The Kindness of Strangers (Streetcar Named Desire)

Going All In - I actually liked this poker reference a lot... how it indicated that this was the final hand, win or lose.
All Aboard
First and Ten
Mission accomplished
42 - The answer to life, the universe and everything.
A small step for math

You see, us engineers, math wizes and scientists can also be creative... but in the end, we do make the most logical choice... that's just the way we are.


Joel said...

Congratulations to both of you! It was quite interesting to follow your quest to 10!

Dace said...

It's not a surprise since you surely ARE the usual suspects! On the other hand, it is very surprising that the last 0.003 was conquered so fast.
Kudos to all of you!

Anonymous said...


I like the name you chose, but my 2nd choice would be "Gonna Need a Bigger Boat"

VerGreeneyes said...

I'm looking forward to future blog posts going into more detail about the technical stuff - I mean, it must be hard enough for two separate team to describe their methods as one whole, never mind three! Either way I'm as surprised as anyone to see such a big jump - well done!

Raptor said...

Congratulations on your achievements!!! What a finish...

Anonymous said...

much congrads!

Aron said...

This was a remarkably fast close on 10%. Look forward to seeing details on your approach in 3-6 months. Till then, you have suddenly freed up some extra time for me.

It's too bad too, I was closing in rapidly on your best published model score. ;)

What is the updated score on that btw?

Michael Chiu said...
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Michael Chiu said...
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Kempton said...

Congrats to you all!

I am curious of how much above 10 can you guys (or anyone else can achieve in 30 days) plus what we can all learn from the approaches you guys have taken to crack this challenge. May be a paper on how the techniques discovered/invented to solve the challenge can be used elsewhere?

Pavan said...


Yes, it is not as much about the financal outcome of the prize but the spirit and genius of you people in making it done.

Andreas said...


Anonymous said...

Why not 10?

Anonymous said...

And here I thought the name was a reference to the character Belkor from Giant In The Playground's Order of the Stick. Belkor being a Chaotic Evil character with a streak of pragmatism.

Michael Chiu said...

OMG.. congratulation..but i lost my focus of life, it's freaking cool, nothing is impossible :]

Eraldo Luís said...

Congratulations. Fantastic job! ;)

Blue Heron Kitchen said...

Mazel Tov! Would greatly appreciate your 'fixing' the scratched DVD situation.

NetFlixParticipant said...

I hardly think a congratulations is in order for this group... they cumulatively have access to some of the finest hardware available, working in a coalition composing 4 teams of the nations finest researchers and were still paid by their employers to do this work. If you want to congratulate someone, congratulate folks working on their own, in their spare time, with a single low end computer, who manage to crack the top 25.

Congratulate folks who did what none of you on your own could accomplish with all of your expertise.

The only thing you'll get from me is a big Thanks for Ruining the competition for us little guys. A more proper team name would have been "This Many People? Took You Long Enough"...

abhi said...

I congratulate both of you for your hard work and scaling the peak.

Congratulations !!!

mack said...


For achieving the 10% mark
For furthering research and knowledge
For helping to motivate others to reach these high targets
For maintaining the support of your employers to work on projects like this, and making a collaborative push at the end

Nice one!

Anonymous said...

Congrats, its been fun following this competition.

VerGreeneyes said...

NetFlixParticipant, Pragmatic Theory is -not- a big, corporately supported team of experts, and they're the ones who had the #1 spot by a fair margin. BigChaos only formed Commendo when they were already doing very well in the competition - they too started out as several guys working on the prize as a hobby. BellKor might be different (the Bell part at least, I'm not sure about Yehuda Koren) but they're only a third of the contribution.

Anonymous said...

Netflix participant. I also really haven't see the evidence that you needed superpowerful computers to be competitive in this competition. Powerful sure, but I think a 64 bit quat core with say 4GBs of ram could have probably gotten the job done.

And as for collaboration, well hell that's how things get done in the world.

Anonymous said...

Know your guys biggest mistake? You should invite Dace to join your BPC team. You could still contact him before the last day.