Engineered to win at Jeopardy!


It’s usually hard to draw a big crowd for the final session of a four-day conference, especially when it starts at 8 a.m. But this year, SAS Global Forum attendees set their alarms and got up early to hear how Roger Craig used statistics to help him win the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions.

“I’ll admit it. I guess I was a little obsessive about my Jeopardy! preparation,” he joked.

Craig held the audience’s attention with his fascinating account of what he did to prepare for his ultimate win on the popular game show. He said he “reverse engineered the game of Jeopardy!” in order to increase his probability of answering questions correctly. That involved creating a computer program that clustered question topics and sampled the data to identify where he was weakest. With that information, he systematically studied for the show by learning a little about a lot.

“Instead of taking weeks, months or years to go through 200,000 questions, I was able to predict which ones might come up in seconds,” he said.

Craig purported that his strategy for Jeopardy! can work in everyday life as well, proposing that we “augment human capital with predictive analytics.” Just like he created a "modified statistical snapshot of his brain" with a bubble chart, Craig said we can help predict the onslaught of diseases like Alzheimer’s by tracking memory loss.

Watch Craig's full presentation on our livestream channel:

Watch live streaming video from sasglobalforum at

About Author

Lisa Arney

Managing Editor, Internal Communications

Lisa Arney is an internal communications manager at SAS, where she has worked since 2002. Lisa oversees a team of writers supporting the major divisions at SAS to share news and information that helps employees feel engaged and informed.

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