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Predicting Your Competitor's Reaction

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Predicting Your Competitor’s Reaction

To understand how competitors will respond to your next move, evaluate the situation in their terms – not yours.

Reaction by Kevin P. Coyne and John Horn
ANY EXECUTIVE

Predicting Your Competitor’s

will tell you that understanding how competitors will respond to your actions should be a critical component of strategic decision making. But ask that same person how seriously her company actually assesses competitor reaction, and she will probably roll her eyes. In a recent survey conducted by McKinsey & Company, two-thirds of strategic planners expressed a strong belief that companies should incorporate expected competitor reactions into strategic decisions. Yet in a survey conducted by David B. Montgomery, Marian Chapman Moore, and Joel E. Urbany (published in 2005 in Marketing Science), fewer than one in 10 managers recalled having done so, and fewer than one in five expected to in the future.

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and the result was a turnaround in the This disconnect arises because the IN BRIEF fortunes of the entire industry. We also only rigorous framework for explainwatched from the sidelines as a telecom ing rivals’ behavior – game theory – » Research shows that few compacompany failed to understand its rivals often becomes unmanageable in the nies actually undertake competitor and so paid too much for a new telecom real world. For a start, most game theanalysis seriously. That’s because license – a mistake that cost the comory models presume that all players use they find most approaches suspect pany $1 billion and contributed to its the basic principles of game theory – an or too complicated. bankruptcy within a few years. assumption that is manifestly false. Fur» But most companies respond In this article, we will examine each ther, game theory models become unfairly predictably to such moves as of the three questions above and reveal wieldy when a competitor has many new-product launches and price many of the norms, biases, and patoptions, when the strategist is unsure changes, which means you really terns that companies follow in studying which metrics his rival will use to evaluhave to consider only three questheir rivals. Please note that the results ate them, or when there are multiple tions: Will your competitors react at all? What options will they consider? cited in this article are averages across competitors, each of whom might react Which options are they most likely industries, locations, company sizes, differently. But when strategists instead to choose? and competitive environments – all of use ad hoc predictions or war-gaming which can affect these tendencies sigexercises, the analysis can become al» Thinking carefully through these nificantly. (In actual client situations, most entirely arbitrary. The number of questions will let you more accurately gauge your rivals’ reaction to we use tendencies specific to the client’s qualitative considerations that enter your next strategic move. circumstances.) If you have specific inthe prediction process – personal biases formation about how your market segand hidden agendas, for example – risk ment has behaved or, even better, how rendering the results suspect and make an adversary generally makes choices, senior management more likely to reyou should substitute it for our averages. ject counterintuitive results. But, as you will see, knowing the tendencies of all companies Over the past few years, as we have led McKinsey’s efforts helps simplify the process without unnecessarily sacrificing on modeling competitive behavior, we have worked with accuracy. many companies to predict likely reactions to their strategic moves. Through that work, and through a survey of senior executives we conducted in 2008, we have developed a practical Will the Competitor React at All? approach to predicting competitive behavior that stays close Even companies that do analyze their competitors usually to the theoretical rigor and accuracy of game theory but is fail to consider that a rival might choose not to respond to as easy to apply as most of the alternative methods. (See the a strategic move. In ignoring that possibility, the strategist sidebar “Our Research” for more on the survey we used.) Our lowers his estimate of the expected value of his company’s approach involves distilling all possible analyses of a rival’s move: the higher the perceived probability of counteraction response to a particular strategic move into a sequential conby competitors, the lower the expected payoff. And with sideration of three questions: a lower expected payoff, the company is less likely to take Will the competitor react at all? bold action. ■ Why do otherwise diligent strategists skip this step? First, all ■ What options will the competitor actively consider? managers – including, somewhat ironically, those who don’t ■ Which option will the competitor most likely choose? bother with competitive analysis at all – are schooled in stoTwo facts make this simplified process possible. First, if ries of companies that failed by ignoring their rivals, so they your adversary uses rudimentary analytic techniques – which are afraid that in assuming no reaction they will end up being our survey shows to be the case for most companies – then a protagonist in one of those narratives. If they actively predict you can use those techniques to predict his response. Second, no reaction, and the competitor does respond, they fear that most large companies, we found in our research, follow a they will look even worse. To avoid those scenarios, they err on predictable pattern in determining their reaction to a comthe side of assuming a response. Second, in companies that use petitor’s move. war-gaming exercises, individuals must represent the competiThe payoffs from adopting the approach we advocate tor. These people often think they will look smarter and more can be high – particularly compared with the cost of makengaged if they predict a brilliant move or countermove by ing no predictions at all. We helped the largest player in a the competitor than if they simply report to the group, “We’ve transaction-processing industry recognize that a new direction thought about it, and we don’t think we should do anything.” in its strategy would probably provoke a constructive, rather Imagine if a day-long war-gaming workshop started off that than destructive, response from its biggest rival. The company way. The organizers would probably ignore the initial findimplemented the strategy, the rival responded as predicted,

IDEA

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IDEA IN

PRACTICE ing and force the group to continue the move-countermove exercise. » Will your competitor react ones: matching a price change or The first step in analyzing competiat all to a new-product launch introducing a me-too product. For tor reaction, therefore, is to address the or price change? guidance, some examine what their likelihood of no reaction. To determine The authors’ research suggests that business unit did the last time or this, you must ask four subquestions. your strategic move may go undewhat has happened elsewhere in If the answer to any of them is no, the tected: Of the senior executives their company. It’s very likely that they surveyed, only 23% learned your rivals will also seek advice chances of a response are low. about a competitor’s new-product from board members and external 1. Will your rival see your actions? launch early enough to respond advisers. Even if an action appears obvious to you, before it hit the market, and only your competitor may not recognize it, » Which option will your 12% learned about a price change for at least two reasons. First, most comcompetitor choose? in time. Even if they detect the Look at this question through a panies rely on incomplete data to assess move, rivals may not feel threatcompetitor’s lens, not your own. changes in the marketplace. For examened enough by it to interrupt their Most companies use simple, shortple, most large consumer goods compaexisting plans. There’s probably a term measures. Only about 15% nies in China gather data on competitor 30% chance that no competitors track NPV. Seventeen percent use volumes in only 30 large cities, which will react to your move unless it is short-term market share, while anaccount for about half of the market. As very disruptive (and even if they do other 17% use short-term earnings. respond, you’ll probably have the a result, they simply do not detect new Twenty percent look at long-term market to yourself for a while). products targeting smaller cities. In the market share, and 21% look at United States, a major consumer prodlong-term earnings. Do not take » What options will your ucts company recently missed signifithe phrase “long-term” too literally: competitor consider? cant inroads by a competitor because Only 15% look more than four years Few companies analyze more than ahead, and the time horizon varies three options. Almost everyone the market-tracking service it (and most across industries and locations. considers the most obvious similar companies) used did not survey dollar stores, which accounted for 20% of the market for this type of good. Second, if your new product will affect several of your competitor’s business units, it may not register as significant to any one unit and so may be overlooked. On average, only 23% of Remember also that you can improve your odds of escaping detection even more by exploiting your competitors’ blind the participants in our survey learned about a competitor’s spots, some of which will become obvious as you consider the innovation early enough to respond before it hit the market next three subquestions. (although we asked respondents broadly about product or service innovations, we will use the term “new product” to de2. Will the competitor feel threatened? Even if your comscribe these particular responses). When it came to competipetitor sees your actions, he may not feel threatened – and, tors’ pricing moves, only 12% of the respondents learned about accordingly, will not think that mounting a response is worth the expense and distraction. Most organizations assess pera price change in time to prepare a preemptive response. (In formance strictly against their annual budgets. If the finanour research, we asked one group about responses to an innocial goals in the budget can still be met despite your planned vation and another group about responses to pricing moves.)

23%

Only 23% of the executives we surveyed learned about a competitor’s new offering early enough to respond before it hit the market.

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1 2 3 4

action, management will see the company as “on plan” and will feel safe. So, understanding whether your adversary will stay on track despite your action is central to determining whether he will respond and is often easier to figure out than you might expect. Some companies announce their goals by product line. Many companies release earnings targets. For public companies that don’t formally release their targets, the earnings estimates of securities analysts – which many companies take as their targets – can substitute. If no such information is available, simply measure the previous year’s growth rate in volume and assume the company will want to achieve a similar rate in the current year. After determining your competiWill the tor’s likely goals, you can examine Competitor industry sales data to determine React? whether the company is on track. The first step in analyzing Add in the probable effects of your a competitor’s reaction action, and you can make an iniis to address the likelitial prediction about whether the hood of no reaction. To company will stay on track. determine this, you must 3. Will mounting a response ask four questions. If the be a priority? Your adversary alanswer to any of them ready has a full agenda before you is no, the chances of a make a move. On it are product response are low. launches, marketing campaigns, reorganizations, major acquisiWill your rival tions, plant openings, and cost see your actions? reduction efforts – some or all of Will the which must be curtailed in order competitor feel to react to your move. Therefore, threatened? to the degree that your adversary has already committed to plans Will mounting a that will fully occupy his attenresponse be tion, he will be reluctant to shift a priority? priorities. By understanding the perceived “cost” to your competiCan your rival overtor of forgoing his planned initiacome organizational inertia? tives, you can sense whether he may choose to ignore you. Further, remember that some priorities of the business unit you are threatening will probably have been established by its corporate parent. For example, suppose a unit’s parent faces earnings pressure from Wall Street. If the unit’s orders are to generate current earnings, its management might not react (or might choose an inadequate response) despite feeling quite threatened – if a strong reaction would be even more expensive in the shortterm than ignoring your action. 4. Can your rival overcome organizational inertia? Even if top management wants to react, the organization as a whole may resist. Several factors can contribute to this impediment. First, if reacting requires the company to make major organi-

zational changes, it is very unlikely to do so unless the threat is immediate and deadly. We once worked with a telecom client that would face competition from new entrants within three years. To prepare, the client needed a new planning process, which would take the full three years to develop and implement. Because the threat did not affect current performance – even though managers acknowledged it – the company could not muster the will to do more than make small changes. As a result, it eventually lost more than 30% of its market share. Second, managers are generally reluctant to abandon their success formula, and if they decide to go ahead and make a change, they are very poor at doing so. Employees follow thousands of procedures that were established to reinforce the formula. These die hard. Third, companies have great difficulty mounting a response that requires the cooperation of third parties, which may not share their sense of urgency. In the late 1980s, a small U.S. pizza delivery chain called Papa John’s noticed a change in consumers’ perception of the quality of Pizza Hut and Domino’s (the top two chains) and used the opportunity to create a differentiated value proposition captured in the slogan, “Better ingredients. Better pizza.” Papa John’s expanded rapidly throughout the 1990s and became the third largest pizza chain in the country, while the two bigger rivals stagnated. Unable to mobilize their franchises around quality until the threat became undeniable, the big chains did not respond with better pizzas of their own until 2000. Whereas all competitors will notice a large move, our experience suggests that companies overestimate by 20% to 30% the likelihood that a medium to small action will be noticed. In addition, 17% of our survey respondents reported making no response even if they did notice. This is remarkable, because respondents were describing only situations they recalled most vividly, in which their company noticed a threat and classified the action as a “major” move with “the potential to significantly affect your view of your competitive position in your market segment.” Thus, the likelihood of no response in the average real-world situation could be much higher. Considering all these factors, it is reasonable to assume that companies do not respond to their rivals’ moves at least one-third of the time – certainly enough to justify an explicit effort on your part to determine whether your rival will. What’s more, simply asking yourself whether a competitor will respond streamlines the entire task. If you predict the company won’t respond, you can skip the remaining steps.

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Even if they noticed a rival’s strategic move, they did not respond to it, 17% of our survey participants reported.
What Options Will the Competitor Actively Consider?
According to classical game theory, your next step would be to develop the full list of options your competitor could consider, on the assumption that it would study all of them before selecting one. This very assumption, however, lowers companies’ confidence in their ability to predict and hence leads them to forgo analysis. In contrast, our experience with clients and the results of the survey indicate that although competitors may discuss many response options, they seriously investigate only a small number. The day-to-day responsibilities that prevent some competitors from responding at all can also prevent them from allocating time to analyzing all options. When we looked at the number of options examined by companies searching for responses to a rival’s new-product launch or price change, we found that the overwhelming majority consider fewer than four. The median number of options actively considered was almost exactly between two and three. The distribution was also tight: Almost 75% of the respondents looked at two or three; 10% or less looked at five or more. Because you can’t know which options a rival will consider, you must analyze more than he does. That said, the number can be contained, because you can predict which options he will analyze. For both the innovation and pricing groups in our survey, the most common option competitors analyzed was “the single most obvious counteraction” (in

17%

these situations, that would be introducing a me-too product or matching a price change). In both cases, about 55% of the participants indicated that they considered this most obvious option, and over one in three of those who examined only one option selected that response. So, there’s a good chance that a rival is seriously considering the most obvious response. There were some differences, however, in the other options considered in a new-product context and those considered in a pricing context. Forty-three percent of pricing managers looked at what their business unit did the last time it faced a similar situation, whereas only 26% in the innovation group did so. Twenty-five percent of the innovation managers reported that they were likely to look at recent actions by other business units in the company, whereas 16% of pricing managers would take this approach. About 30% of managers in both groups sought advice from board members and external advisers. The second-least likely option (20% for both groups) was looking at the experiences of the business unit the time before last, and the least likely option (19% for both groups) was considering the prior experience of the executive in charge. The bottom line is that you don’t need to look too far back to figure out which options your rivals will analyze.

Which Option Will the Competitor Most Likely Choose?
From the previous step, you will have developed a short list of options your adversary is likely to consider. Now your task is to home in on the one he will choose. For many strategists, this prediction causes the most anxiety. It does not need to. Remember that the only alternative to making this prediction – avoiding predictions – is much worse, so you do not have to be accurate 100% of the time for the effort to be valuable. Classical game theory (the kind most strategists know) takes a complex route to that prediction: It says that a competitor will choose the option that maximizes his net present value after taking into account all sequential moves and countermoves by all competitors (each of whom typically has perfect knowledge of the others’ motives, economics, and options) until a new equilibrium is reached. Unfortunately, no part of that prescription generally holds in the real world. If strategists combine the spirit of game theory with the actual behavior of companies, prediction can be both simplified and improved. Our experience has taught us to begin with this

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OUR RESEARCH

The findings presented in this

article combine our experiences helping clients make competitive predictions over the past 15 years with the results of a survey we conducted in 2008 at McKinsey & Company, in which senior executives reported on their responses to competitors’ initiatives. The survey was intended to test the validity of the framework we have developed over the past few years and to quantify the underlying behavioral tendencies we have observed. Certain parts of the framework – such as estimating the likelihood of a company’s failure to notice an adversary’s move – could not be tested in such a survey and so are reported here on the basis of our experiences alone. Of the approximately 4,700 individuals who received the survey, 1,825 – almost 40% – responded. Participants were preselected to answer either a set of questions dealing with responses to a product or service innovation or questions about responses to a price change. The total pool was split evenly between the two sets of questions, and the surveys we received mimicked this ratio (914 from innovation and 911 from pricing). In both sets of questions, we asked participants to describe in detail (based on our framework) the decisionmaking processes they had followed to formulate a response to a recent “major” move by a competitor. We defined a major move as one with “the potential to significantly affect” the participant’s view of her company’s competitive position. While it’s possible that a major move to one respondent was more or less severe to another, we chose this language to increase the comparability across respondents. Further, we asked them to supply quantitative and qualitative descriptions of the actual moves in order to allow even more precise comparisons. In addition to asking about the steps taken to respond to the competitive change (the pricing group was asked to consider not only price decreases but also increases, so the moves weren’t necessarily all “threats”), we obtained information on the respondent’s location, industry, basic industry structure, relative size, competitive intelligence gathered, the basic type of innovation (modification or new, existing competitor or new entrant), size of the initial mover, when the company learned about the move, who was in charge of responding, the expected impact, the actual impact, whether the response tried to hurt the initial mover, and the exhaustiveness of the effort. 1,825 Survey Respondants 914 Innovation Respondents

911 Pricing Respondents

rule: Of the options your adversary seriously considers, he will choose the one that is most effective (according to his analytic technique) within the constraints of his trade-off between short-term and long-term pain. The rule makes sense, and it has proven accurate in our client work. To apply it, strategists need to examine the following two subquestions: 1. How many moves ahead does your competitor look? In chess, we are told that the best players look ahead five or more moves – a process that (intuitively) involves sorting through hundreds of thousands of “if he chooses x, I will choose y, and then he will choose z” scenarios. Thinking ahead in business is a similar process. We have constructed realistic experiments in which the optimal decision changes depending on whether one uses an even or odd number of rounds. Further complicating matters, your adversary’s best response could differ depending on whether he considers only your reaction or those of other competitors as well. Fortunately, although there are many ways to analyze a situation, the large majority of companies want to avoid complexity as much as you do, so they restrict themselves to simple, easily replicable analyses. When asked the number of moves and countermoves they analyzed, about 25% of our respondents said that they modeled no interactions beyond their own response. In certain instances (for example, financial services responses to pricing moves), this figure was as high as 45%. The next two most-common answers were assuming a single round of counter-reaction either by the initial mover (the company making the innovation or price change to which the competitor is responding) or by multiple competitors. That is, about 35% worked with a one-stage reaction model. (Again, in certain industries, the percentage was much higher.) Fewer than 10% of the managers we surveyed looked at more than one round of response by more than one competitor. 2. What metrics does the competitor use? Companies often mistakenly assume that everyone measures success in the same way. This explains why many of our clients claim that their competitors are “irrational.” But would your most important competitor, who by definition has made a succession of smart decisions (otherwise he would not be your most important competitor), choose this moment to take leave of his senses? Or is he simply pursuing a strategy that looks poor according to your preferred measures but looks very clever according to his? To discover your competitor’s metrics, simply ask yourself, “What measure would have led my competitor to his recent decisions?” You will not have to search far for the answer. Most companies use simple, short-term measures. In our survey, only about 15% of respondents used NPV to evaluate their options. Seventeen percent used short-term market share, while another 17% used short-term earnings. Twenty percent looked at “long-term” market share, while another 21% looked at “long-term” earnings. Do not take our respondents’ use of the phrase “long-term” too literally, though. When asked

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Only 25% of our survey participants considered more than two or three options for responding to a rival’s move.

25%

how far into the future they forecasted the costs and benefits of their possible responses, 85% said four years or less, and about 62% said two years or less. These figures varied by the respondent’s location and industry. For example, in analyzing pricing moves, most respondents who were in Asia-Pacific shortened their time horizon to one year, whereas financial services firms expanded it to three to four years. Clearly, managers find it difficult to trade the certainty of short-term expense for the uncertainty of long-term gain. Your final task is to mimic your adversary’s decision-making process by applying his metrics and analytic techniques (including the rounds of competition) to the options you think he will look at in order to see which one (or ones) seems best. Sensitivity analyses should be conducted for the elements of greatest uncertainty to help determine whether or not the choice for your adversary is clear-cut. If these indicate that the decision is a close call, then you must also assess your adversary’s recent actions in response to a competitive move. Our research suggests that even if companies consider multiple response options, most will have a clear preference for one or two. The companies represented in our survey that reacted to a strategic move at all (remember that 17% did not react) usually either made the most obvious response (22% in the innovation group, 18% in the pricing group) or relied on the instincts of the decision maker (19% of innovation managers, 13% of pricing managers). What you must do, therefore, is spend some time understanding the patterns the CEO or relevant executives have displayed in prior decisions: Get a gut feel for their gut feel. Talk to people who have worked with those executives and learn about the units they have led. Look at the history of the competitor’s other units, as well.
•••

competitor actually behaves rather than on the theory of how everyone should behave. By studying your competitor’s past behavior and preferences, you can estimate the likelihood of his responding at all, identify the responses he is likely to consider, and evaluate which will have the biggest payoff according to his criteria. This information can give you an accurate idea of what your competitor is likely to do. And the competitor you can predict is the one you can learn to outsmart. Isn’t that what strategy is all about?
Kevin P Coyne (kevin@thecoynepartnership.com) is a senior .

teaching professor at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, a partner with the strategy consulting firm The Coyne Partnership, and a former senior partner at McKinsey & Company. John Horn (john_horn@mckinsey.com) is a consultant at McKinsey in Washington, DC.
Reprint R0904H To order, see page 119.

A rigorous analysis of competitors’ behavior doesn’t have to involve a lot of math and talk of Nash equilibria. The key is to focus on understanding how a

P.C. Vey

“I prefer to call it information rustling.”

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...What is a reaction paper? Reaction or response papers are designed so that you'll consider carefully what you think or feel about something you've read or seen. Instructions Read or view whatever you've been asked to respond to read or view. While reading or viewing think about the following questions: • How do you feel about what you are reading (seeing)? • With what do you agree or disagree? • Can you identify with the situation? • What would be the best way to evaluate what you read or see? Pre-writing for Your Reaction Paper Keeping your responses to these questions in mind, complete as many statements as possible about what you read or saw. 1. I think that ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2. I see that ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3. I feel that ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4. It seems that ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 5. In my opinion ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 6. Because _______________...

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...generally applicable to all expert witnesses are applied in your use of the document examiner and handwriting expert. Therefore remarks will concentrate specifically on use of this expertise. Summarized as follows: 1. First consider: do you want the expert to give testimony or do you want a non-testifying, consulting expert? You would protect the consulting expert from the discovery advices. As for the testifying expert, take it for granted that whatever passes between the two of you or between the expert and any other person in the case will be discovered by opposing counsel. Make very clear to the document examiner which of the two roles you want filled. Later the two kinds of experts and how to use each will be discussed in more detail. 2. It is imperative that the document examiner and handwriting expert be contacted as soon as you realize the need or see a potential benefit. Handwriting analysis could help every individual to look after their personal and important papers. Business people just for example, must have to know when, where, why and to whom will your signs and writings be given. Handwriting experts on the other hand studied very carefully and specifically single move or attachments on the original one to detect if the documents were forged. These instances prove that every individual is in need of basic knowledge about handwriting analysis. And these were discussed accurately in this chapter. Reaction Paper in Court Testimony Submitted by: Jay......

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...sort of 2001 for people whose movie-going mantra is ‘turn off your brain.’ It’s the cinematic equivalent of a The Matrix-obsessed moron blowing lines of coke and talking to you about a human potential article he skimmed in Wired while a National Geographic special blares in the background. It’s not just that Lucy is dumb; Lucy is really agitated and excited to explain to you how its dumbness is in fact profundity. But it’s just really fucking stupid. Lucy is so well made you almost don’t care. It’s so well made you also almost don’t care that it’s largely devoid of interesting action scenes. There’s a boring shoot out and an incoherent car chase, plus a couple of different scene where Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy walks down a hallway just like Neo at the end of The Matrix and, just like Neo at the end of The Matrix, does some wacky reality-altering shit. But mostly there are scenes where ScarJo is typing and scenes where she’s looking around like a bird and scenes where Morgan Freeman is giving lectures and saying such extraordinarily science stuff that you have to assume. The film’s central premise is based on that canard which says we only use about 10-15% of our brains, but I don’t mind that. Radioactive spider bites don’t turn people into superheroes either - I’m willing to suspend my disbelief that a new designer drug expands Lucy’s brain ability, especially if it leads to fun. Lucy’s problem is that once your disbelief is suspended it gets straight up abused; as more......

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...Laboratory Exercise Two Reaction Enthalpies for Acid – Base Neutralization Reactions Goals 1. To measure the amount of heat released in acid-base neutralization reactions. 2. To determine the molar enthalpy change for each acid-base neutralization reaction. 3. To validate Hess’s Law using the experimental results. Background Information Acids and bases react together to produce a salt and water as shown in the following reaction. HCl(aq) + NaOH(aq)  NaCl(aq) + H2O(l) This type of reaction is called a neutralization reaction. When a neutralization reaction occurs, heat (q) is released to the surroundings, and the temperature of the surroundings rises. In aqueous acid-base neutralization reactions the surroundings are the solution itself, which is mainly composed of water. The amount of heat released by the reaction can be determined by measuring the temperature change of the solution during the reaction. At constant pressure, the heat released by a reaction is the reaction enthalpy (∆Hr). The units for reaction enthalpies are kJ mol-1; in reactions that don’t have a 1-to-1 ratio of all reactants and products, we need to specify per mol of which species. In this experiment, the heat released by each reaction will be used to determine the reaction enthalpy for each chemical reaction per mole of acid reacted. (Note that this may or may not be the same thing as “per mole of acid added;” you will need to think about limiting reagents.) During the experiments the temperature......

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...Predicting borrowers’ chance of defaulting on credit loans Junjie Liang (junjie87@stanford.edu) Abstract Credit score prediction is of great interests to banks as the outcome of the prediction algorithm is used to determine if borrowers are likely to default on their loans. This in turn affects whether the loan is approved. In this report I describe an approach to performing credit score prediction using random forests. The dataset was provided by www.kaggle.com, as part of a contest “Give me some credit”. My model based on random forests was able to make rather good predictions on the probability of a loan becoming delinquent. I was able to get an AUC score of 0.867262, placing me at position 122 in the contest. 1 Introduction Banks often rely on credit prediction models to determine whether to approve a loan request. To a bank, a good prediction model is necessary so that the bank can provide as much credit as possible without exceeding a risk threshold. For this project, I took part in a competition hosted by Kaggle where a labelled training dataset of 150,000 anonymous borrowers is provided, and contestants are supposed to label another training set of 100,000 borrowers by assigning probabilities to each borrower on their chance of defaulting on their loans in two years. The list of features given for each borrower is described in Table 1. Variable......

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Reaction

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Predicting Preferences

...Predicting Preferences Prediction involves making a statement concerning the likely value of an event or action uncertain or unknown at the time of the statement. Since the theory of probability, (inaugurated by the French mathematicians Blaise Pascal and Pierre Fermat in 1654), was developed to quantify uncertain events in terms of their likelihood of occurrence, formal prediction is now viewed as a mathematical topic involving probabilistic modeling. Indeed, the mathematician Karl Pearson said in 1907 that the fundamental problem in statistics is prediction. Prediction, however, is usually not an end goal itself, but rather means to put probabilistic bounds on the relative frequency or likelihood of occurrence of future uncertain events so that strategies or actions can be taken incorporating these predictions. Risk management needs predictive analysis, as does economic regulation, engineering control, and marketing effectiveness. This latter use of prediction often involves predicting an individual’s choice (or group’s choice) or preference over alterative options. Preference can be conceptualized as an individual’s (or group’s) attitude concerning a set of objects, and is usually formulated within a choice making context (i.e., X is preferred to Y if one would choose X over Y). In this way choice and preference are linked, and predicting preferences is akin to predicting choices. An auxiliary question is to formulate models that explain “why” or “how” the......

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