December 14, 2012
Ever thought of basketball players as nodes in a small network, connected by passes? A recently published study did just that, revealing that the aggregated decisions on a basketball court reflect strengths and weaknesses in a team’s strategy. A team led by Jennifer Fewell and Dieter Armbruster published their findings in the journal PLoS One. They tracked all passes between basketball team members during the 2010 NBA play-offs. The networks reveal differences between teams’ strategies, and centrality and entropy measures are used to capture these differences.
Wired magazine wrote a very readable overview of this and similar sports statistics work.
Since the article is published in an open access journal it is freely available to all, isn’t that great. Here is the article abstract:
We asked how team dynamics can be captured in relation to function by considering games in the first round of the NBA 2010 play-offs as networks. Defining players as nodes and ball movements as links, we analyzed the network properties of degree centrality, clustering, entropy and flow centrality across teams and positions, to characterize the game from a network perspective and to determine whether we can assess differences in team offensive strategy by their network properties. The compiled network structure across teams reflected a fundamental attribute of basketball strategy. They primarily showed a centralized ball distribution pattern with the point guard in a leadership role. However, individual play-off teams showed variation in their relative involvement of other players/positions in ball distribution, reflected quantitatively by differences in clustering and degree centrality. We also characterized two potential alternate offensive strategies by associated variation in network structure: (1) whether teams consistently moved the ball towards their shooting specialists, measured as “uphill/downhill” flux, and (2) whether they distributed the ball in a way that reduced predictability, measured as team entropy. These network metrics quantified different aspects of team strategy, with no single metric wholly predictive of success. However, in the context of the 2010 play-offs, the values of clustering (connectedness across players) and network entropy (unpredictability of ball movement) had the most consistent association with team advancement. Our analyses demonstrate the utility of network approaches in quantifying team strategy and show that testable hypotheses can be evaluated using this approach. These analyses also highlight the richness of basketball networks as a dataset for exploring the relationships between network structure and dynamics with team organization and effectiveness.
December 11, 2012
Visualisation of Harbour produced by BBC for Rome’s Lost Empire in collaboration with Portus Project
On Sunday a show called Rome’s Lost Empire
featured loads of great work by Southampton archaeologists. Since 2007 a team led by Prof. Simon Keay and Dr. Graeme Earl has been excavating at Portus
, the port of the city of ancient Rome. The BBC 1 show reveals some of their latest findings, as well as the 3D modelling work of our Archaeological Computing Research Group
You can watch the show on BBC iPlayer.
Read more about the computer models that were created for this show on the Portus blog. There you can also read a message by Prof. Simon Keay about the show.
December 6, 2012
A while ago I wrote about the Personal Histories of CAA session I organised with Gareth Beale at the CAA conference in March 2012. We are delighted to announce that the Personal Histories of the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology conference (CAA) film has now been edited and is available on the CAA website and Personal Histories project’s website.
The 2012 edition at Southampton was the 40th anniversary of the CAA conference. We celebrated this event with the “Personal Histories of CAA” session held at the CAA conference venue on Wednesday 28 March, from 2pm to 4pm. At this celebratory session the founders, former chairs and key members of CAA throughout the last 4 decades shared their personal experiences with us. We were honoured that for this event we were able to welcome to Southampton Sue Laflin, Phil Barker, Clive Orton, John Wilcock, Nick Ryan, Paul Reilly and Hans Kamermans, as well as listen to an interview with Irwin Scollar. The session was moderated by the current chair of CAA, Gary Lock. The contributors discussed the advances in the field of archaeological computing fostered by the CAA as well as many personal social experiences.
We hope you enjoy this film and the many personal anecdotes it contains. We hope the next 40 years will be equally exciting.
Tom Brughmans, Gareth Beale, Pamela Jane Smith
Archaeological Computing Research Group
University of Southampton
McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
University of Cambridge