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November 2017 Elo Ratings and the Sports Model: A Neglected Topic in Applied Probability?
David Aldous
Statist. Sci. 32(4): 616-629 (November 2017). DOI: 10.1214/17-STS628


In a simple model for sports, the probability A beats B is a specified function of their difference in strength. One might think this would be a staple topic in Applied Probability textbooks (like the Galton–Watson branching process model, for instance) but it is curiously absent. Our first purpose is to point out that the model suggests a wide range of questions, suitable for “undergraduate research” via simulation but also challenging as professional research. Our second, more specific, purpose concerns Elo-type rating algorithms for tracking changing strengths. There has been little foundational research on their accuracy, despite a much-copied “30 matches suffice” claim, which our simulation study casts doubt upon.


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David Aldous. "Elo Ratings and the Sports Model: A Neglected Topic in Applied Probability?." Statist. Sci. 32 (4) 616 - 629, November 2017.


Published: November 2017
First available in Project Euclid: 28 November 2017

zbMATH: 1383.60057
MathSciNet: MR3730525
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/17-STS628

Keywords: Bradley–Terry model , dynamic ratings , Elo rating , sports forecasting

Rights: Copyright © 2017 Institute of Mathematical Statistics


Vol.32 • No. 4 • November 2017
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