Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Pigskin Pythagoras," by Jascha Hoffman. The Boston Globe, 1 February 2004.

The subtitle is "A guy from Framingham [Massachusetts] tries to remake the muddy field of football statistics." FootballOutsiders.com's Aaron Schatz claims that people should "forget touchdowns, total yards, and red-zone efficiency" and "worry about DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) and line-yards." Hoffman notes that Schatz's "numbers are unique in that they evaluate each play against the league average for plays of its type, adjust for the strength of the opponents' defense, and even try to divide credit for a given play among teammates." The article cites examples, describes why he calls it the Pythagorean theorem of football, and notes that statistician Daryl Morey of STATS, Inc. has adapted and applied the formula to many sports.

--- Annette Emerson