Penn doctoral candidate part of first-place software contest team

Doctoral candidate David Weiss is part of the software-engineering team currently in first place for The Netflix Prize, a $1 million contest to improve the company’s movie recommendation software.

Weiss, a student in the Computer and Information Science Department in Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science—and a movie buff—first began working on the contest in 2006. In the years since, he’s been a part of several global collaborations—including the first-place team, The Ensemble—in the hopes of claiming the million-dollar prize.

“The goal is to have the processor understand a preference,” Weiss says, describing the algorithm theory the team utilized. “Each user will have 10 numbers indicating how much they like any given quality in a movie. The question then becomes: Is there a function that can compare a film’s similarities, and can we use that to predict preferences?”

Weiss and his teammates will have to wait until later this year for Netflix to determine a winner. He is hopeful that the technology they developed will impact the fields of speech recognition and computer vision.

To read more about the contest and The Ensemble, click here.

Originally published on July 31, 2009

Originally published on July 31, 2009