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“We are quite curious, really, to the tune of one million dollars”


When the number of movies and series on Netflix increased exponentially, the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, realized they needed to improve their recommendation system to retain customers. After Netflix made several unsuccessful attempts to develop a new algorithm to improve their movie predictions accuracy, they decided to start a three–year open contest. When they launched the challenge, they invited their lead users to come up with a better recommendation system than the one Netflix had at that time, named Cinematch. Many mathematicians, statisticians, software engineers and cyber geeks, symmetrically skilled, from all over the world participated. The variety of participants is often beneficial since somebody outside the field of the problem can often come up with a good solution (Harvard Magazine, 2013). To win the contest, the proposed system had to improve recommendation accuracy with at least 10%, compared to Cinematch. The ones who would achieve this goal, received a price of one million dollars.

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