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Stochastics and Statistics Seminar

Short Stories about Data and Sports

September 16 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Anette "Peko" Hosoi, MIT


Recent advances in data collection have made sports an attractive testing ground for new analyses and algorithms, and a fascinating controlled microcosm in which to explore social interactions. In this talk I will describe two studies in this arena: one related to public health and the pandemic and one related to decision-making in basketball.  In the first, I will discuss what can be learned from the natural experiments that were (fortuitously) run in America football stadiums. During the 2020 National Football League (NFL) season, teams collaborated with local communities to determine whether or not to allow fans in the stadiums during the pandemic. These policy decisions were made based on local guidelines, local prevalence of the virus, community risk tolerance, and other localized considerations; some stadiums ultimately decided to allow fans at the games while others remained closed, providing perhaps the first set of natural experiments that can be analyzed to investigate the impact of opening stadiums on public health. In the second part of the talk, I will discuss metrics to assess to the decision-making capability of athletes.  In most professional sports, it is well-known that physical ability is only one piece of the puzzle; cognitive aspects of the game, including the ability to make sound decisions under pressure, play an important role in athletic success. In many games, these decisions manifest as physical actions that can be captured in tracking data. Here I will describe a framework to evaluate decision-making and to assess game strategy and execution efficacy. The framework is built on an Expected Possession Value (EPV) metric in basketball which is leveraged to identify scoring opportunities throughout a game.
Anette “Peko” Hosoi is the Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Professor of Mathematics and a Faculty Member of the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. Her research contributions lie at the junction of nonlinear hydrodynamics, biomechanics, and bio-inspired design. A common theme in her work is the fundamental study of shape, kinematic, and rheological optimization of biological systems with applications to the emergent field of soft robotics.  More recently, she has turned her attention to problems that lie intersection of biomechanics, applied mathematics, and sports. She is the co-founder of the MIT Sports Lab which connects the MIT community with pro-teams and industry partners to address data and engineering challenges that lie within the sports domain.
Peko joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2002 as an assistant professor after receiving an AB in physics from Princeton University and an MA and PhD in physics from the University of Chicago. She has received numerous awards including the APS Stanley Corrsin Award,  the Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Jacob P. Den Hartog Distinguished Educator Award. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), a Radcliffe Institute Fellow, and a MacVicar Faculty Fellow.

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