Netflix hands out big bucks to improve recommendations system

There's no doubt that Netflix is always toiling away in an attempt to improve its online rental service, but rather than tasking its own whiz-kids to do the impossible, it has established a potential $1 million prize for any individual or team who can "improve upon the complex Netflix movie recommendation system by 10-percent." The second annual competition just concluded, and for the second straight year there was no million dollar winner. Instead, BellKor in BigChaos took home $50,000 with a 9.44% improvement. According to team member Dr. Hunt, "hitting that last [small bit] is less of a dash to the finish line and more of a tough slog to the peak of Mt. Everest." Kind of makes you wonder, though -- what else is going on behind Netflix's doors?

[Thanks, Seth]