Guy Predicts ‘Game of Thrones’ Ending Using Math

Game of Thrones statistical analysis

George R.R. Martin‘s apparent willingness to kill off any character at any time means Game of Thrones / ASOIAF is a more difficult storyline to predict than most. But that doesn’t stop fans from making their guesses anyway. Now, one of them has come up with a particularly unusual approach to the Game of Thrones prediction problem.

Richard Vale, a statistics lecturer at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury, has used math to try and figure out which characters will live or die in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. His results should should cheer up some fans and depress others. Hit the jump to see what he found.

To date, Martin has released five A Song of Ice and Fire novels; in its first four seasons, the HBO series Game of Thrones has covered (roughly speaking) the first three books. The author is currently working on the sixth book, The Winds of Winter. But there’s no word yet on when it’ll hit shelves, let alone what it will bring for our favorite characters.

So in the meantime, Vale crunched some numbers to try and guess. Each chapter of Martin’s books is told from the perspective of one specific character, so Vale compiled data on how many chapters each character had “starred” in so far. Based on those figures, he predicted how likely those characters were to get more point-of-view chapters in future books. Since dead characters don’t get POV chapters, a higher chance of more POV chapters could correspond to greater odds of survival.

Vale himself admits the model isn’t perfect. It’s purely mathematical, so it doesn’t account for narrative developments, storytelling conventions, or Martin’s cruel, cruel heart. He also fesses up to making certain assumptions about the data that may not be strictly correct. “You can’t predict whether the batter will actually hit the ball on any particular swing,” he explained to the Wall Street Journal, “but you can use their batting average to describe how likely they are to get a hit on average.”

All that said, he did come up with some ideas about who might live or die. According to his figures, Melisandre is the most likely character to get no POV chapters in the next book. On the flip side, Vale finds that a certain character who may or may not have died at the end of Book 5 has at least a 60% chance of being alive. (Specifics can be found in section 3.11 if you’re not afraid of A Dance With Dragon spoilers.) And there’ll be fresh blood, too, as his model indicates about 11 chapters will star new POV characters.

To keep the analysis strictly mathematical, Vale avoided the influences of wishful thinking or fan theories. However, for his part, Vale admits he is pulling for a certain gentleman who (appropriately enough) hails from the Vale: “I am a paid-up member of Team Littlefinger!”

Read Vale’s full paper here (PDF). Be warned that A Dance With Dragons spoilers lie ahead.

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