Game of Thrones probably has little to do with your professional life. So consider this gratuitous storytelling for the sake of curious fans of the HBO fantasy.
But just ahead of Sunday's kickoff for Season 6 of the television series, students in Germany developed an algorithm that they claim answers two pressing questions:
Is Jon Snow alive?
Who is the next to die?
Analytics to the Rescue
The rich worlds in Game of Thrones inspired a computer science class at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) to create computer algorithms to predict next characters to be eliminated — and satiate curiosity about uber-popular Jon Snow.
(Given that you probably use analytics in some capacity on the job, we'll use that as a tenuous link for this story.)
Guy Yachdav, chair of bioinformatics at the Technical University of Munich, said the students "developed applications that scour the web for data on the Game of Thrones and crunch the numbers. They then put together a website that reports which characters are most likely to die in the upcoming sixth season of the TV series."
The students used an array of machine learning algorithms to predict the possible outcome of Game of Thrones characters.
The algorithm accurately predicted 74 percent of character deaths in the TV-series and the books, he said. And get this: it found there are many surprises in store.
For one, villainous Ramsey Snow (64 percent likelihood of death) will outlive his runaway captive and mortal enemy Theon Greyjoy (74 percent likelihood of death).
More important, Jon Snow, who was betrayed by his friends in the Season 5 finale, is alive. Probably. The machine predicts there is only an 11 percent chance that he is dead. You can read more Life and Death rankings here.
Machine Learning Meets the Twitter Seismometer
The student website presents data generated by the students’ machine learning tools compilation and also tracks and analyzes Twitter user sentiments on hundreds of GoT characters.
Beyond these predictions, the students also programmed an interactive map that allows fans to explore the Game of Thrones world and chart the journeys taken by major characters.
Yachdav called the project "a lot of fun."
“In its daily work, our research group focuses on answering complex biological questions using data mining and machine learning algorithms. For this project we used similar techniques. Only this time the subject matter was a popular TV show," he said, adding that the epic scale of the worlds created by George R. R. Martin "provides an almost endless resource of raw multi-dimensional data."
Place your bets: Is Jon Snow dead or alive?