Friday, December 6, 2013

World Cup Football 2014 - The Draw - Part 4

High Level Group Reviews.

Group B & F are decided - Spain + Netherlands and Argentina + Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Groups A, C, E & H all have one qualifier (Brazil, Columbia, Switzerland and Belgium) with the 2nd spot coming from one of two teams.

Group D & G can lay claim the the group(s) of death. Both have 3 or 4 strong teams fighting for 2 spots.

Draw of Death

If you read the US press, Group G is the Group of Death. If you read the English press, Group D is the Group of Death. I'm not going to argue with them. However, let me introduce another concept ... 'draw of death'. The 'draw of death' is allocated by assuming you have the power to move your team to any other slot in the draw. Which is the very bottom slot that you want your team to move to! That is the team that got the 'draw of death'. I am going to argue that that team is Australia. They (ranked #59) have to get past Spain (#1), Netherlands (#9) and Chile (#15) to get out of the group phase.

World Cup Football 2014 - The Draw - Part 3

Time to look at how the Relative Opponent Strength Rating goes when you drop it into the 8 groups.

Group A (BRA, CRO, MEX, CMR)
Brazil is green and so it is making it out of the group stage. Cameroon is red and they aren't. Both Croatia and Mexico are in the middle group and that is where the main battle for the 2nd spot will come from. All up, a pretty straight forward group.

Group B (ESP, NED, CHI, AUS)
Spain and Netherlands are green. Australia is red. End of story.

Group C (COL, GRE, CIV, JPN)
This group is similar to A - one team is green (Columbia) and one team is red (Japan). As such, Greece and Cote d'Ivoire will be fighting it out for the 2nd spot.

Group D (URU, CRC, ENG, ITA)
Costa Rica is red - the others (Uruguay, England and Italy) are in the blue group. This will be a tough group to qualify from for all teams.

Group E (SUI, ECU, FRA, HON)
Another A? Switzerland is green, Honduras is red, France and Ecuador are fighting out for the 2nd spot.

Group F (ARG, BIH, IRN, NGA)
This group has two red teams (Iran and Nigeria). As such, the other two will qualify ... Argentina (green) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (blue).

Group G (GER, POR, CHA, USA)
Another Group like D (tough!). Ghana is red - the others (Germany, Portugal and USA) are in the blue group.

Group H (BEL, AGL, RUS, KOR)
A again. Korea is red, Belgium is green, Russia and Algeria are blue and fighting for the 2nd spot.

World Cup Football 2014 - The Draw - Part 2

Part 1 on my posts on the World Cup Draw introduced what I am calling a relative ranking. I've calculated this for all of the 32 teams using their FIFA rankings as well as the FIFA rankings of their opponents in the group stage. Sorting from highest to lowers and then plotting gives me this ...

I've added some color coding to help you see where I have broken the progression. Below -10 is red - the lowest blue value is -3.7 (USA), the next lowest value is -13.0 (NGA). So - I think that is a pretty clear break.

The break for the better teams was a little harder to select - I ended up going with above 15. The value just below 15 is 12.3 (GER) and the value just above 15 is 16.0 (NED).

The teams with red opponent strength ratings aren't making the final 16 (in my opinion). The teams with green opponent strength ratings are making the final 16.

Next, I'll resort these into their groups and look at the various groups in more details.

World Cup Football 2014 - The Draw - Part 1

Today was a big day for most of the nutty sports fans around the world. only seemed to be interested after the event and only then to say that the USA was in the Group of Death. Yes - I am talking about the World Cup Football 2014 Draw. You should all know the results ... but in case you have been living under a rock (or in the USA), here is a link to FIFA.

Being the actuary that I am, I had to analyze the results based on some sort of ranking.  Lucky for me, I don't have to invent my own ranking ... I can use FIFAs or ESPNs.  After a quick review of ESPNs, I decide that what ever they are using to arrive at their ranking list, one of the ingredient must be illegal ... so FIFAs ranking it is.

Now, using the FIFA rankings, I develop two measures of opponent strength - one absolute and one relative.  Here is an example (using Australia's group) ...
Team Ranking Absolute Relative
ESP #1 27.7 26.7
NED #9 25.5 16.0
CHI #15 23.0 8.0
AUS #59 8.3 -50.7

How is the absolute strength calculated? Easy - it is the average of the rankings of the three opponents. Aust = (1 + 9 + 15) / 3. A lower score implies that you are playing against tougher opponents. The relative strength is the absolute strength minus your ranking.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Is there a 3rd Option?

Last November I was issued not 1 but 2 traffic violation notices for a New York State Inspection sticker that had expired. I knew it was expired and I knew that I should have taken care of it the previous week end. Ok, so I was angry at myself. I was also (a little) angry at the polices ... I got home at about 6pm on Friday night to find violation ticket #1 (grumble, grumble). I pick it off the car and take it inside. The next morning, I go out to the car to go get something, coffee, shopping - can't remember and ...

yep - you guessed it ... violation #2 issued at 1:30am not 8 hours after I removed the first one.

Both of the violations were for 'Violation #10' ... whatever that is. Luckily they had provided a nice, short description:

            Inspect Expire > 60 Days

Errr - what? My inspection sticker expired in October. It was early November ... let me check on my fingers ... two weeks expired. Err ... 14 days. Greater than 60 days? Crazy. I check 'not guilty' and head to court.

Fast forward to Feb this year ... waiting in court to have my two violations ruled on ... police who issued ticket #1 calls my name and says that he can void one if I pay the other. I point out that the violation says 'greater than 60 days' and my inspection was only expired about 14 days. 'No no' he says, 'that is a less than sign'.

Ok, I was hoping that they wouldn't say that ... but I wasn't surprised. I pull out my printed page from the wiki showing the difference between a greater than sign (>) and a less than sign (<). His response ... 'No - that is a less than sign. This is a greater than sign' - and he draws less than sign. He goes on: 'I'm not going to argue with you - you can see the judge if you want to'.

At that point, I decide to call it quits - I was always happy (not the right word, but you know what I mean) to pay one violation.

Now - here is the issue ... there are only 2 reasons why the police thought that a '>' sign was a less than sign ... either:

A) He is poorly educated - which says alot for the education system in the US and the police hiring practices in general
B) The town is looking for any sort of revenue it can and is asking the police to boost its revenue

To be honest, I cannot decide which it is. The contestants on 'Are you smarter than a 5th grader' argue for A while stories like Adrian Schoolcraft's argue for B.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

MLB Post Season: RedSox out, Rays in

Last Wednesday was surely a crazy day for baseball. It looked like the RedSox had a post season birth all sewn up, but it wasn't to be with the Rays coming back to win from 0-7 in the 8th innings and the RedSox blowing the game needing only one more strike in the 9th.

Yahoo have quoted the chance of the Rays making the playoffs as 1 in 278 million. They don't say from what position (ie mid year, Monday night, Tuesday night, etc). They do rely on (in their words), 'noted statistician Nate Silver' who provided the odds from a NYTimes blog. Here is the maths behind his estimate ...

The following is not mathematically rigorous, since the events of yesterday evening were contingent upon one another in various ways. But just for fun, let’s put all of them together in sequence:

  1. The Red Sox had just a 0.3 percent chance of failing to make the playoffs on Sept. 3.
  2. The Rays had just a 0.3 percent chance of coming back after trailing 7-0 with two innings to play.
  3. The Red Sox had only about a 2 percent chance of losing their game against Baltimore, when the Orioles were down to their last strike.
  4. The Rays had about a 2 percent chance of winning in the bottom of the 9th, with Johnson also down to his last strike.
If you read the NY Blog or the Yahoo comments, there are a number of people who rip into this maths as wrong ... just plan wrong. Firstly, he says that the chance of the RedSox not making the playoffs is 0.3% (3 in 1000) ... but then a few lines later, he says it is 1 in 278 million. Secondly, #1 and #2, #3 or #4 are not independent. #2 thru #4 are how #1 occurred. Thirdly, #2 and #4 are also not independent.

I am sure that Nate Silver knew or was aware of this ... however, Yahoo picked it up and has been repeating it as the truth ever since ... even after their first story on it got ripped in the comments.

For my take, the RedSox melting down was pretty unlikely, but it has happened before (mets a few years ago, Atlanta Braves this year) ... 3 in 1000 sounds a little low to me. Closes blowing saves (even Bapelbon ... gee, when was the last time he blew a save? Oh ... 8 days before this one on 9/20). Teams escape from losing even when they are down to their last strike (it happened twice on Wednesday night ... Rays and RedSox!).

Before the games started on Wednesday, I would have put the RedSox at a 60/40 to go through - they are playing a poor team while the Rays were playing a good team (but that team was resting its best players). Sure, I would have lengthened the odds when the Rays went down 7-0, but not out to 1 in 10,000 and certainly not to 1 in 278m.

To me, the most amazing thing in this situation was that I could switch between the RedSox game (see them lose), flip over to the Rays game and see the crowd react to the news and then (a few minutes later) see the Rays win.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Schools Open, Drive Carefully

I've been driving lately and seen tons of 'Schools Open, Drive Carefully' signs. This is an annual drive by AAA to remind motorists about watching for children while driving. I fully support this initiative.

However, every time I see the sign my initial cranky reaction is 'what happens at Christmas time ...
School is closed, drive carelessly'. AAA go on to say:
  • Slow down near schools and in residential areas.
    Drive with your headlights on - even during the day - so children and other drivers can see you.
  • Look for clues such as AAA School Safety Patrollers, bicycles and playgrounds that indicate children could be in the area.
  • Scan between parked cars and other objects for signs of children.
  • Practice extra caution in bad weather.
  • Always stop for school buses that are loading or unloading students.
  • Ditch distractions - Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
  • Stay alert - Don't rush into and out of driveways. Expect pedestrians on the sidewalk, especially around schools and in neighborhoods
  • Stop at stop signs - It sounds obvious, but research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.
  • Watch for bikes - Children on bicycles are often unpredictable; expect the unexpected.

Shouldn't every driver be doing this all of the time?