Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rethinking Magic Numbers For Sports Leagues

Date:
January 8, 2002
Source:
University Of California - Davis
Summary:
Whether their team is going to top the league is something every sports fan wants to know. But according to mathematicians, the traditional "magic number" calculation is not accurate. Now two computer scientists at the University of California, Davis, have come up with a new way to work out "magic numbers." The same method can apply to other sports leagues such as hockey and European soccer.

Whether their team is going to top the league is something every sports fan wants to know. But according to mathematicians, the traditional "magic number" calculation is not accurate. Now two computer scientists at the University of California, Davis, have come up with a new way to work out "magic numbers." The same method can apply to other sports leagues such as hockey and European soccer.

Related Articles


Working out the "magic" or elimination number (the number of games a team has to win to avoid elimination) is a classic problem taught to computer science students, said Dan Gusfield, chair of computer science at UC Davis.

Sports fans usually make a simple calculation of the number of games their team has left to play, compared to the win-loss difference with their nearest rival, to come up with the number of wins needed to top the league. This calculation is too simple, said Gusfield. It does not take into account that if the other team loses a game to a third team, the third team gains points.

"You have to look at all the teams and all the possible future games, and work out a scenario for the team you're interested in," Gusfield said. UC Berkeley computer scientists run a Web site that calculates these numbers and provides examples: http://riot.ieor.berkeley.edu/~baseball/.

Two years ago, a Cornell University researcher showed that the answers for any team can be tied together, so the elimination number for all the teams can be found at the same time. At any specific time in the season, the number of games won plus the number to play must be higher than a threshold number, or the team will be eliminated.

Gusfield and colleague Charles Martel have shown that this can be extended to sports leagues such as hockey and European soccer, which award points for wins, losses and draws. The same type of threshold number can also be used to find which teams still have a chance to make the playoffs as a wildcard team, Martel said.

"The phenomenon is universal, not tied to any scoring system," Gusfield said. But whether you can actually compute the threshold number is a different matter: under some scoring systems, it might be too difficult to work out, he said.

The results are published in the January 2002 issue of Algorithmica.

More information: UC Berkeley's "magic numbers" site is at http://riot.ieor.berkeley.edu/~baseball/.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Davis. "Rethinking Magic Numbers For Sports Leagues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020107075717.htm>.
University Of California - Davis. (2002, January 8). Rethinking Magic Numbers For Sports Leagues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020107075717.htm
University Of California - Davis. "Rethinking Magic Numbers For Sports Leagues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020107075717.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins