England vs. France?

Course of tournaments like the European Football Championship can be calculated with algorithms from bioinformatics.

France and England will probably face each other in the final of the 2021 European Football Championship, with England having a slightly higher chance of becoming European champion: This is the prediction of Alexandros Stamatakis, professor of High Performance Computing at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and research group leader at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS).

"The calculation of tournament winners is similar to the algorithms used to reconstruct evolutionary relationships between different species in phylogenetics," explains the computer scientist. "Therefore, tournament histories can be calculated using similar methods to phylogenetic trees." Phylogenetics is concerned with the study of ancestry in living things. Together with Ben Bettisworth, his PhD student at HITS, Alexandros Stamatakis has developed a new software tool called "Phylourny" to predict the course of the knockout stages of tournaments, and demonstrated its function using the 2021 European Football Championship.

"We adapted an algorithm from bioinformatics to do this," Bettisworth explains. "Our approach excels in that we no longer have to simulate many possible tournament outcomes in a lengthy manner with certain deviations from the exact values, but can calculate the tournament outcome efficiently and accurately - always given win probabilities."

In addition to better and faster predictions, the bioinformaticians' work could also enable the development of new methods for calculating win probabilities in the future. The researchers are making their software available as open-source code. (or)


Further information:

Phylourny: Predicting the Knock-out-phase of Tournaments via Phylogenetic Methods by example of the UEFA EURO 2020. https://cme.h-its.org/exelixis/pubs/phylourny.pdf

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