Blog Archives

Advent Calendar of Football Trivia Analyses

November 30, 2019
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One of the most consistent fonts of posts on this blog is The Guardian’s football trivia page The Knowledge. A particular reason for this is that the small contained questions lend themselves to small blogposts that I can turn around in an hour or two, as opposed to being endlessly redrafted until I lose interest. However, I still sometimes don’t...

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R-inforcement Learning Part One- Tic Tac Toe

November 27, 2019
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R-inforcement Learning Part One- Tic Tac Toe

I’m extremely biased, but to me, one of the real success* stories in neuroscience over the last (just over) two decades has been in studying reward signals. Since the seminal 1997 paper, a lot of work has gone into figuring out how the brain assigns value to outcomes. *ugh, maybe. This isn’t a blog post about that My PhD project looks...

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Predicting the Unpredictable- Analysing Rowing in Cambridge pt. 1

November 23, 2019
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Predicting the Unpredictable- Analysing Rowing in Cambridge pt. 1

In my free time away from PhD and data science work, I (used to) enjoy rowing. Aside from obvious benefits like socialising, providing a (very intense) workout, seeing the outdoors at least a few times a week… there are really two things that I love(d) about rowing: It’s the sport that is closest to a simple engineering problem. Going fast...

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Scraping Dynamic Websites with PhantomJS

For a recent blogpost, I required data on the ELO ratings of national football teams over time. Such a list exists online at eloratings.net and so in theory this was just a simple task for rvest to read the html pages on that site and then fish out the data I wanted. However, while this works for the static...

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The Guardian Knowledge June 2019

The Guardian Knowledge June 2019

Most Wednesday’s I enjoy reading The Knowledge blog on the Guardian’s website and reading the football trivia therein. When time (and questions) allow, I like to answer some of the questions posed, example of which are here, here, and here. League of Nations The first question comes from Which player had the nationality with the lowest FIFA World Ranking at the time...

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An Introduction to Modelling Soccer Matches in R (part 1)

An Introduction to Modelling Soccer Matches in R (part 1)

For anyone watching football, being able to predict matches is a key aspect of the hobby. Whether explicitly (e.g. when betting on matches, or deciding on recruitment for an upcoming season), or more implicitly when discussing favourites to win the league in the pub, almost all discussion of the sport on some level require predictions about some set of upcoming...

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Riddler 1st February 2019

February 2, 2019
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Riddler 1st February 2019

Riddler Classic In my spare time I enjoy solving 538’s The Riddler column. This week I had a spare few hours waiting for the Superbowl to start and decided to code up a solution to the latest problem to keep me busy. The question revolves around a card game in which whatever choice a player makes, they are likely to lose...

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Which English County Has Won the Most Points

January 20, 2019
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Which English County Has Won the Most Points

Every so often a question on The Guardian’s The Knowledge football trivia section piques my interest and is amenable to analysis using R. Previously, I looked at club name suffixes and young World Cup winners last August. This week (give or take), a question posed on twitter caught my attention: @TheKnowledge_GU was just chatting to some colleagues in the kitchen...

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The Knowledge 4th August 2018

August 3, 2018
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The Knowledge 4th August 2018

The Guardian publish a weekly set of questions and answers on a variety of football minutiae at The Knowledge. Forutnately, some of these are extremely tractable using R, so I thought I’d have a go at working through the archives to see if I can shed light on any of the questions. library(rvest) library(dplyr) library(magrittr) library(data.table) library(zoo) library(ggplot2) library(rvest) library(stringr) #jalapic/engsoccerdata library(engsoccerdata) We Ain’t Going To The Town.. ‘This season, Tranmere...

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Could an Independent Yorkshire Win the World Cup – Rest of the World/UK

Could an Independent Yorkshire Win the World Cup – Rest of the World/UK

Recently, a Yorkshire national football team appeared in a league of national teams for stateless people. This got me wondering how the historic counties of the UK would do at the world cup. Could any of them compete with full international teams? I published the complete code for that article on this blog this week. However, one question which I...

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