Introducing Sparse Football Pool II

Numenta • Subutai Ahmad and Ryan McCall

Around this time of year the US goes crazy over the Super Bowl. So be it, but
did you ever think the Super Bowl could help you understand how your brain
works? Well, it can! Enter the Sparse Football Pool.

Numenta’s theory of the cortex,
Hierarchical Temporal Memory,
relies on the properties of Sparse Distributed Representations. SDRs are the
fundamental way our brain represents information. The concepts behind SDR are
deep and thought provoking. We get a lot of questions around this and were
wondering how to explain it all in a fun simple way.

We came up with a simple Super Bowl quiz with rules that closely mimic some
operations in HTM. We hope the quiz will be fun and at the same time illustrate
some deep principles behind SDRs.

The rules are extremely simple. How exactly do they relate to SDRs? We’ll
explain it all when we post the winner after the game, but for now here are two
tidbits: 1) computing overlap is a fundamental operation with SDRs, and 2) when
there are 30 questions and you choose 11, there are 54,627,300 possible
combinations of entries. The chance of getting all 11 correct is pretty small,
but given how improbably the Seahawks won their game anything is possible!


We’re offering some cool prizes (US citizens 18 and over only). The top 5
winners will receive a Numenta T-shirt and an autographed hardcover of On
Intelligence. In addition the winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to
Amazon, iTunes, or Google Play (their choice).


  1. Answer TRUE or FALSE for each answer.
  2. You cannot have more than 11 TRUE answers. If you enter more than 11 TRUE
    answers, we will take the first 11 only.
  3. To figure out the winner, we will compute the overlap score between the
    actual answers and your answer. The person with the highest overlap score
    will win.


The overlap score simply gives you one point for every answer where you answered
TRUE and the correct answer was TRUE. For example, if the answer to question 3
is True and you answered True, you get a point. In all other cases you don’t get
a point for question 3. Note that since you can only put down 11 TRUE’s, the
maximum overlap score you can get is 11.

In case of ties, the earlier entries will win. (Also, if you submit more than
one entry, only the last entry will count.)


To enter, go to our online submission form. You will be asked to answer the
following questions. They are repeated here for reference to help you plan out
your answers ahead of time (responses will only be accepted through the online
submission form). Note that all entries must be received by 12 PM Pacific
Standard Time on January 31, 2015.

  • The New England Patriots will score first
  • The Seattle Seahawks will score first
  • There will be a lead change in the first half
  • Russell Wilson will throw for more than 250 yards
  • Tom Brady will throw for more than 300 yards
  • Russell Wilson will attempt more passes than Tom Brady
  • LeGarrette Blount will rush for more than 100 yards
  • Marshawn Lynch will rush for more than 120 yards
  • Jamie Collins will make the most tackles (solo plus assisted) in the game
  • Rob Gronkowski will score a touchdown
  • Rob Gronkowski will not score a touchdown
  • Russell Wilson will throw at least two interceptions
  • There will be a score in the final 2 minutes of the first half
  • The team leading at the end of the first half will lose the game
  • Halftime show performer Katy Perry will don more than one costume during her
  • Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, or Juicy J will join Katy Perry on stage during the
    halftime show
  • Kicker Steven Hauschka (Seahawks) will score more points than kicker Stephen
    Gostkowski (Patriots)
  • The New England Patriots will be penalized the most (in terms of yards)
  • The Seattle Seahawks will be penalized the most (in terms of yards)
  • There will be at least one lost fumble resulting in a change of possession in
    the game
  • Someone other than Russell Wilson or Tom Brady will throw a touchdown pass
  • There will be kickoff or a punt that is returned for a touchdown (by either
  • The game will have a “Pick Six” play where an interception is returned for a
  • There will be at least one successful coach’s challenge that will overturn a
    ruling on the field made by the referees
  • There will be a score in the final 2 minutes of regulation
  • The combined score at the end of the game will be greater than 50
  • The combined score at the end of the game will be less than or equal to 50
  • The winner will win by 10 or more points
  • The Seattle Seahawks will claim their 2nd Superbowl Trophy!
  • The New England Patriots will claim their 4th Superbowl Trophy!
Numenta • Subutai Ahmad and Ryan McCall

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *