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July 14, 2014

Microsoft’s Bing wins the World Cup with predictive analytics

Search engine accurately forecasts Germany win to score 100% success rate.

By Ben Sullivan

Microsoft’s Bing search engine accurately predicted the winner of the 2014 World Cup yesterday, meaning it had predicted every game in the knockout rounds with 100% accuracy.

After forecasting a Germany-Argetina final, Bing used a mathematical model based on team data and statistics to predict the German win.

The predictions are delivered through the Bing search engine and Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant on Windows Phones.

The team behind the predictive analytics wrote in a blog post: "For the tournament, our models evaluate the strength of each team through a variety of factors such as previous win/loss/tie record in qualification matches and other international competitions and margin of victory in these contests, adjusted for location since home field advantage is a known bias.

"Further adjustments are made related to other factors which give one team advantages over another, such as home field (for Brazil) or proximity (South American teams), playing surface (hybrid grass), game-time weather conditions, and other such factors. In addition, data obtained from prediction markets allows us to tune the win/lose/tie probabilities due to the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ phenomenon captured by the people wagering on the outcomes."

The predictions were part of Microsoft’s broader aim of raising the awareness of its contextual search results on Bing, telling users about information that is interesting and relevant to them.

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Craig Beilinson, Microsoft’s director of consumer communications, said: "The elimination round has been magical for us here at as we watch all of these predictions come true.

"It’s been a fun computer science experience here and we think a lot about where we can take it. We hope it’s fun for people to see more than just search results, to see more information that they can follow."

Bing is set to predict the winners for more events this year, including November’s US midterm elections and the Emmy awards.

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