Microsoft's Cortana correctly predicts World Cup quarterfinals, overtakes Paul The Octopus

Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant for Windows Phone continued its winning streak over the weekend, correctly predicting the winners of the quarterfinals stage of the World Cup in Brazil.

Having already guessed its way through the last-16 stage, Cortana, which is similar to Siri on the iPhone, predicted that Germany, Argentina, Brazil and the Netherlands would progress to the semifinals, which take place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Cortana has now overtaken the prediction winning streak of Paul The Octopus, which rose to fame after correctly guessing the winners of eight matches during the elimination rounds of the 2010 World Cup in Germany, including the final.

The voice-activated personal assistant, which is powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine, now expects Germany to beat hosts Brazil, and for Argentina to be victorious against the Netherlands.

Cortana relies on Microsoft’s Bing search engine to guess the winners of each match. A blog post written by the Bing team last month explains how Cortana predicts each game.

“For the tournament, our models evaluate the strength of each team through a variety of factors such as previous win/loss/tie record in qualification matches and other international competitions and margin of victory in these contests, adjusted for location since home field advantage is a known bias.

“Further adjustments are made related to other factors which give one team advantages over another, such as home field (for Brazil) or proximity (South American teams), playing surface (hybrid grass), game-time weather conditions, and other such factors. In addition, data obtained from prediction markets allows us to tune the win/lose/tie probabilities due to the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ phenomenon captured by the people wagering on the outcomes.”

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