Statistician uses math to predict the survivability of Game of Thrones characters

Contributed by
Sep 26, 2014

Math is hard. But if you happen to be good at it, numbers can be used to figure out all kinds of useful things — including the likelihood of survival among Game of Thrones characters.

It’s not often we’d recommend the average fan kick back and read a 13-page statistics report, but if you’re looking for some inside logic into what George R.R. Martin could be cooking up in the final two Song of Ice and Fire novels, this one could be worth the time.

Popular Science reports that Richard Vale, a statistician at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, used something called the Bayesian method to try and figure out how many chapters each character will likely have devoted to them in Martin’s next two books. By extrapolating some of that data, he can also make a prediction about who might survive the bloody, bloody series.

Basically, Vale’s report uses character appearances in the previous installments to predict who might be sticking around and for how long in the next book. If a character is more likely to have at least one chapter, then it’d stand to reason they have solid odds to survive up to that point. If not? It could spell doom. Of course, the model doesn’t take into account Martin’s penchant for shocking deaths — or the potential addition of new characters taking page time away from existing players.

Despite the potential flaws, it still makes for some fun prognosticating. The chart below reflects how many chapters Vale believes each character will get in the upcoming book Winds of Winter. The height of the bar over each number represents the probability of a character getting that number of chapters, with 0.5 meaning a 50 percent chance and 1 representing relative certainty (at least according to the model).

So what'd we learn? Things look relatively good for characters like Daenerys, Jon Snow and Tyrion — which is good — because they're also fan favorites. Vale says he hopes to test the reliability of the model once Martin finishes Winds of Winter (assuming he ever does).

If it proves relatively successful, he may publish a followup to predict how things could shake out in the final book. How do you think it'll turn out?

(Via Popular Science)

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