Nav: Home

New deep learning techniques analyze athletes' decision-making

March 06, 2017

Sports analytics is routinely used to assign values to such things as shots taken or to compare player performance, but a new automated method based on deep learning techniques - developed by researchers at Disney Research, California Institute of Technology and STATS, a supplier of sports data - will provide coaches and teams with a quicker tool to help assess defensive athletic performance in any game situation.

The innovative method analyzes detailed game data on player and ball positions to create models, or "ghosts," of how a typical player in a league or on another team would behave when an opponent is on the attack. It is then possible to visually compare what a team's players actually did during a defensive play versus what the ghost players would have done.

"With the innovation of data-driven ghosting, we can now, for the first time, scalably quantify, analyze and compare detailed defensive behavior," said Peter Carr, research scientist at Disney Research.

"Despite what skeptics might say, you can indeed measure defense."

The researchers presented their method on Mar. 3, 2017 at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. Though they demonstrated the method using data from 100 games of a professional soccer league, they emphasize it also is applicable to other sports, such as football and basketball.

"Precise, second-by-second game data is now widely available and, as technology improves, is becoming ever more thorough," said Markus Gross, vice president at Disney Research. "As valuable as they are, metrics such as 'Wins-Above-Replacement' and 'Expected Point Value' are not the be-all and end-all of sports analytics. As this new research shows, we're just beginning to realize the full potential of what the data can tell us."

Ghosting has previously been used by such teams as the NBA's Toronto Raptors, Carr noted, who developed software to predict what a defensive player should have done in particular situations instead of what he actually did. As effective as it was, this required extensive manual annotation of game data. The Disney-led team, by contrast, developed a fully automated approach using advanced machine learning techniques.

"Our approach avoids the need for manual input," Carr said. "Our ghosting model can be trained in several hours, after which it can ghost every play in real-time. Because it is fully automated, we can easily learn models for different subsets of data, such as all the games of a particular team."

The researchers used a type of machine learning called deep learning, which uses brain-inspired programs called neural networks. To learn the fine-grained behavior model for each player role in a formation, they used recurrent neural networks, a popular deep learning tool that is able to examine the recent history of player actions to make predictions of subsequent actions. Similar tools were famously used to create artificial intelligence programs that were able to master video games and beat top human players of the board game Go.

For games such as soccer, where the game state is continuous in both space and time, standard deep learning techniques were not sufficiently robust. As time progressed, the predictions tend to veer from ground truth. To address this issue, the researchers leveraged techniques from imitation learning, a tool that is able to learn from demonstrations and has proven useful in robotic applications, said Yisong Yue, assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences at Caltech.

Combining creativity and innovation, this research continues Disney's rich legacy of leveraging technology to enhance the tools and systems of tomorrow.
-end-
In addition to Carr and Yue, the research team included Hoang M. Le, a Caltech Ph.D. student, and Patrick Lucey of STATS. For more information, including animated game situations showing how ghosting can inform analysis, visit the project web site at https://www.disneyresearch.com/publication/data-driven-ghosting/.

About Disney Research

Disney Research is a network of research laboratories supporting The Walt Disney Company. Its purpose is to pursue scientific and technological innovation to advance the company's broad media and entertainment efforts. Vice President Markus Gross manages Disney Research facilities in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Zürich, and works closely with the Pixar and ILM research groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. Research topics include computer graphics, animation, video processing, computer vision, robotics, wireless & mobile computing, human-computer interaction, displays, behavioral economics, and machine learning.

Website: http://www.disneyresearch.com
Twitter: @DisneyResearch
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DisneyResearch

Disney Research

Related Technology Articles:

How technology use affects at-risk adolescents
More use of technology led to increases in attention, behavior and self-regulation problems over time for adolescents already at risk for mental health issues, a new study from Duke University finds.
Hold-up in ventures for technology transfer
The transfer of technology brings ideas closer to commercialization. The transformation happens in several steps, such as invention, innovation, building prototypes, production, market introduction, market expansion, after sales services.
The ultimate green technology
Imagine patterning and visualizing silicon at the atomic level, something which, if done successfully, will revolutionize the quantum and classical computing industry.
New technology detects COPD in minutes
Pioneering research by Professor Paul Lewis of Swansea University's Medical School into one of the most common lung diseases in the UK, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, has led to the development of a new technology that can quickly and easily diagnose and monitor the condition.
New technology for powder metallurgy
Tecnalia leads EFFIPRO (Energy EFFIcient PROcess of Engineering Materials) project, which shows a new manufacturing process using powder metallurgy.
New milestone in printed photovoltaic technology
A team of researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universit├Ąt have achieved an important milestone in the quest to develop efficient solar technology as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Gene Drive Technology: Where is the future?
For this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by Gene Drive Committee co-chair James P.
Could Hollywood technology help your health?
The same technology used by the entertainment industry to animate characters such as Gollum in 'The Lord of The Rings' films, will be used to help train elite athletes, for medical diagnosis and even to help improve prosthetic limb development, in a new research center at the University of Bath launched today.
Assessing carbon capture technology
Carbon capture and storage could be used to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and thus ameliorate their impact on climate change.
New technology for dynamic projection mapping
It has been thought technically difficult to achieve projection mapping onto a moving/rotating object so that images look as though they are fixed to the object.

Related Technology Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.