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Geekery alert

According to an article in one of my professional newsletters, an academic researcher says that the margin of error in Hawkeye is such that it is unsuitable for use in determining sporting decisions. I think that cricket commentaries make this fairly clear but it does seem to be an absolute arbiter at Wimbledon.


A few questions arise from that interesting piece:

* what do they use it for in snooker? The only thing I could think of was very faint kisses, and it hardly seems worth it just for that.

* does tennis have a "benefit of the doubt" rule, as in offsides at football or unclear tries at rugby league, where if the decision is in the area of uncertainty it goes to the attacker? If not, maybe it should. With "the doubt" defined as "being measured as within x mm" if using Hawkeye.

* the margin of uncertainty may be "much lower" than 3.6 mm at the back of the line, but is he really saying it's less than 1 mm? Sounds implausible.

* "The public, says Collins, would be better served by a system that gave its result with error bars so that people could make up their own minds." ... "An airline pilot doesn't say, 'We have a 99.996 percent chance of landing safely at Heathrow within 30 minutes' [Hawkins] says"... I'm not sure which of these two opposed statements sounds the more idiotic.

Personally I like the cricket approach of using it for information but not for decisions: there was a fear that umpires would be undermined, but that doesn't seem to have happened.
All questions to which I have no answer... although I entirely share the position whence they come.

September 2015



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