Luck vs Knowledge

Hi, what do you think is more important for a tournament success? Is it luck at trying and coming up with ideas and models, or is it rather data knowledge, machine learning expertise, continuous development of models?

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Either will do if you have the continuous development of models part and just keep doing it. What is the fastest path to victory? Having all of the above on your side.

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Those are multipliers, not opposites. :slight_smile:

More knowledge - good.
More luck - better.
More knowledge, more luck - best.

The biggest problem with luck is that there is no formula for it. So your best bet in the tournament is like everywhere else in life: knowledge and persistence.

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Luck is easy to get at Numerai – you’ll have it on any model you don’t stake on.


Maybe not the formula, but certain hint:

Yankel, an old pious Jew, observant all his life and living a life of poverty, one day in his morning prayers petitions God. “God,” he rises and prays, “All my life I have been an observant Jew. I have lived according to your Torah and your commandments, faithfully praying every day, observing Shabbat and all the festivals, keeping strictly kosher, giving what I can in charity. I have lived my life as a poor person, I have never had much. And while I have always been grateful for what I do have, and I have never asked you for much, would it be possible, just once, as I near the end of my life, that I win the lottery?” And with that he sits down.

Every morning, Yankel offers up the same prayer to God, to win the lottery. And each evening he goes to sleep having not won.

Weeks and months pass, and the same routine. Yankel prays to win the lottery each morning, and goes to sleep each night having not won. His mood turns from hopeful, to disappointed, to angry.

On the anniversary of his request, Yankel angrily addresses God: “Ruler of the Universe! One year ago today and every day since I made a simple request! I never asked you for anything my whole life, and now, just once I ask you for something. Why have you denied me this? Why have you not allowed me to win the lottery?!”

A booming voice from Heaven calls out: “Nu, Yankel, buy a ticket!”


Having some luck can push one of your models to the top of the leaderboard for a while. But don’t get too carried away by it. Also, if you see models in your portfolio with lots of golden medals, they’re probably just high variance models.

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