KDnuggets : News : 2007 : n08 : item3 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >


From: Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro
Date: 23 Apr 2007
Subject: Interview with Simon Funk of the Netflix prize fame

I am pleased to resume KDnuggets Interviews with Simon Funk, who has become very well known in the recent Netflix prize competition (www.netflixprize.com/). At one point he was #3 on the list, and as of April 23, 2007 he shared 10-11 place with 6.31% improvement over the best Netflix result before the challenge.

Very impressive for an independent software developer who works on Netflix prize in his spare time between his trips around New Zealand!

However, Simon became well-known and respected not because of his result but mainly because he freely published his code and ideas - the only top-10 leader to do so. Perhaps hundreds of participants in the Netflix prize have used his code and explanations and have learned about machine learning and data mining in process.

As I read entries in Simon blog (http://sifter.org/~simon/), I saw not only an accomplished developer and researcher, but also a very interesting person. Simon has shown his talents early, having obtained a BA from UCSD at the age of 18. He later was a lead developer for several outstanding systems, including

  • Inkwell - a character recognition system used in Apple Newton 2.0 and re-released in MacOS 10.2 as "Inkwell"
  • Adobe Atmosphere - a user-buildable, distributed, 3d virtual environment on the internet supporting avitars, chat, and linking between worlds.
I also found that Simon Funk is a pen name, and Simon's real name and bio are here. However, I will stick with Simon Funk for the rest of the interview, since this is the name people are familiar with in the context of Netflix prize.

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KDnuggets : News : 2007 : n08 : item3 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >

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