Every Nerd’s Dream: Using Bayesian Mathematics to Analyze “Game of Thrones”
A handful of us at Via Science are huge Game of Thrones fans. With the sixth season in full swing and the plot continuing to build on old storylines (hello, the Hound?!), we thought we would share a fan-worthy blog post from our advisor, Allen Downey’s blog Probably Overthinking It related to the potential fate of characters in Game of Thrones.
By Via Science Marketing
The blog post titled Bayesian survival analysis for “Game of Thrones” is based on a project that Dr. Downey’s students worked on in his Introduction to Bayesian Statistics class at Olin College. The project used Bayesian mathematics to compute the probability that a character in the books will survive. The excerpt below provides an overview of the project, their approach to determining survival rates and the types of data they used.
The Song of Ice and Fire series has a reputation for being quite deadly. No character, good or bad, major or minor is safe from Martin’s pen. The reputation is not unwarranted; of the 916 named characters that populate Martin’s world, a third have died, alongside uncounted nameless ones.
In this report, we take a closer look at the patterns of death in the novels and create a Bayesian model that predicts the probability that characters will survive the next two books.
Using data from A Wiki of Ice and Fire, we created a dataset of all 916 characters that appeared in the books so far. For every character, we know what chapter and book they first appeared, if they are male or female, if they are part of the nobility or not, what major house they are loyal to, and, if applicable, the chapter and book of their death. We used this data to predict which characters will survive the next couple books.
Ben Kahle and Erin Pierce I Bayesian survival analysis for “Game of Thrones”
Since the full report was published last year before season five premiered, we’ve been able to see whether some of the predictions they made have come true, specifically regarding Jon Snow’s fate. Check out the full blog post to learn more!