Encoding Success

Introduction: DNA and CNA

This was a remarkable week for the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) Consortium. ENCODE is an international collaboration of research groups funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) that aims to build a comprehensive parts list of functional elements in the human genome, including elements that act at the protein and RNA levels, and regulatory elements that control cells and circumstances in which a gene is active.

On the 5 September, ENCODE announced that:

The results of the ENCODE project were published today in a coordinated set of 30 papers published in multiple journals. These publications are the result of cross-consortium integrative analysis, covering more than 4 million regulatory regions in the human genome mapped as part of ENCODE. The coordinated publication set includes one main integrative paper and five other papers in the journal Nature; 18 papers in Genome Research; and six papers in Genome Biology. The ENCODE data are so complex that the three journals have developed a pioneering way to present the information in an integrated form they term “threads.” Since the same topics were addressed in different ways in different papers, the Nature ENCODE website was developed to allow readers to follow a topic through all of the papers in the ENCODE publication set. In addition to these publications, six review articles are being published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and other affiliated papers in Science, Cell, and other journals. The new Integrative Analysis page on this portal provides links and descriptive material for these publications and related analysis resources.

Back in 1990 I was intrigued to learn about the launch of The Human Genome Project. I wondered if some of the principles applied in genomics could be applied to the observation and analysis of performance in sport. Are there universals in sport that become markers for success (and failure)?

Two years after the announcement of the Genome Project I proposed the establishment of the Centre for Notational Analysis (CNA) at Cardiff Institute of Higher Education. The approximation of CNA to DNA was unintentional but did, ironically, start my search for patterns of successful behaviour in sport. In 1998 Gareth Potter became the first PhD from CNA with a thesis titled Modelling Winning Performance in Invasive Team Games.

Encoding AFL

The announcements this week about ENCODE came as I was finalising my data collection for the 2012 AFL season.

This year I looked at the scoring profiles of teams by quarter of the game.

In my data set I have 197 winners, 197 losers and 1 drawn game.

In 2012, winners scored a total of 22,178 points. Losers scored 13,982 points.

The score totals by quarters of game for winners were: 5517 (First Quarter);  5348 (Second Quarter); 5541 (Third Quarter); 5731 (Fourth Quarter).

The score totals by quarters of game for losers were: 3472 (First Quarter);  3396 (Second Quarter); 3591 (Third Quarter); 3539 (Fourth Quarter).

The season average per game for winners was: 28 (First Quarter);  27 (Second Quarter); 28 (Third Quarter); 29 (Fourth Quarter); 113 total.

The averages for winners each week were:

Quarter
WeekQ1Q2Q3Q4Total
W127323127117
W230303132123
W334223427117
W42619271890
W52229232296
W626272828109
W727302425107
W830292331114
W922272729105
W1029292533117
W1131232629106
W1224242626100
W1336232723108
W1431273038125
W1525263429114
W1630263135124
W1725252831109
W1837263235130
W1931232827109
W2024253532115
W2125342231115
W2227352630118
W2326292731113

The season average per game for losers each week was: 18 (First Quarter);  17 (Second Quarter); 18 (Third Quarter); 19 (Fourth Quarter); 71 total.

The averages per week for losers were:

Quarter
WeekQ1Q2Q3Q4Total
W12025192084
W21513241567
W31617182172
W41518141864
W51822161673
W61822231275
W71616201365
W81516211667
W91518161765
W101818151566
W111811172672
W121619182377
W132116181975
W142013151966
W151719141465
W162318181876
W171617191970
W181614182067
W191719212177
W201920202382
W212214161769
W221915221773
W231715162169

Colour Coded

Hawthorm were the Minor Premiership winners in 2012 and Greater Western Sydney were the bottom team on the Ladder.

Hawthorn’s season looked like this:

Greater Western Sydney’s:

I based my record on performance in 2012 on performance relative to 2011 AFL ranking. Greater Western Sydney were a new team in the competition and so were ranked 18th in my reference list.

The colour codes for each game are:

Winning teams have a green profile and are trying to avoid aberrant red markers. Losing teams tend to have a blue profile and are trying to gain yellow markers.

Just as in the ENCODE Project I think it is fascinating to contemplate whether all parts of the performance profile are important. This week one report observed:

The ENCODE Project has discovered that so-called “junk DNA” in the human genome is more useful than previously thought. Rather than useless remnants from our evolutionary past, half or more of human DNA act as “gene switches”, researchers found.

I hope to explore some of these trigger issues in subsequent posts.

Photo Credits

Micah’s DNA

Richmond Tigers v GWS Giants

2 thoughts on “Encoding Success”

  1. Excellent analogy Keith. Although i feel the DNA boys are closer to cracking the code than we are with sport. Still, gives us all plenty of work. Now, where is that mathematical model i designed to unearth the next Del Piero?

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