Using big data to analyze soccer

Engineering professor Luís Amaral has investigated complex social and structural networks in areas ranging from healthcare and biology to gender discrimination and gun violence. His diverse research interests and innate curiosity eventually led him to study soccer — his favorite sport.

Amaral used his knowledge of network complexity to create an algorithm that objectively ranks professional soccer players. With the help of students in his lab, Amaral built a network for each team, which reflected who passed the ball to whom, how accurate those passes were, and how likely those passes were to end in a goal.

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