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Netflix just announced the winners of their $1 million prize to make at least a 10% improvement in the performance of their prediction engine.

NEW YORK, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ — After almost three years and submissions by more than 40,000 teams from 186 countries, Netflix, Inc., the world’s largest online movie rental service (NASDAQ: NFLX), today awarded the $1 million Netflix Prize to a team of engineers, statisticians and researchers who achieved the competition’s goal of a 10 percent improvement over the accuracy of the Netflix movie recommendation system when the competition was launched in Oct. 2006. Netflix members already are benefiting from improvements Netflix Prize contestants have contributed to the recommendations system.

Moments after bestowing the $1 million prize, Netflix announced a second $1 million challenge, asking the world’s computer science and machine learning communities to keep the improvements coming…

The winning team is comprised of software and electrical engineers, statisticians and machine learning researchers from Austria, Canada, Israel and the United States. All seven team members – Bob Bell, Martin Chabbert, Michael Jahrer, Yehuda Koren, Martin Piotte, Andreas Toscher and Chris Volinsky – attended the awards ceremony. It was the first time all seven had met one another in person. How the $1 million is split is to be determined by the team.

Its not surprising that the winners have careers that depend heavily on mastery of discrete math topics and have cultivated the same competitive spirit found in math circles.

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