In October 2006, Netflix announced it would give a cool seven figures to whoever created a movie-recommending algorithm 10 percent better than its own.
Within two weeks, the DVD rental company had received 169 submissions, including three that were slightly superior to Cinematch, Netflix’s recommendation software. After a month, more than a thousand programs had been entered, and the top scorers were almost halfway to the goal.
It seems there might be an unlikely contender:
His name is Gavin Potter. He’s a 48-year-old Englishman, a retired management consultant with an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s in operations research.
He has worked for Shell, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and IBM. In 2006, he left his job at IBM to explore the idea of starting a PhD in machine learning, a field in which he has no formal training.
When he read about the Netflix Prize, he decided to give it a shot — what better way to find out just how serious about the topic he really was?
You can read the full article over at Wired.