Let's say I have an application that, from a pool of items, presents two random results to the user. The user selects one as the "winner" and the result would be recorded like this:
INSERT INTO results (winner_id, loser_id) VALUES (26, 45);
What would be the best way to use the results table to rank the items?
This question has a theoretical/subjective component, i.e., there's more than one way to think about ranking them.
For example, this isn't that much different from, say, a season of baseball. Baseball chooses a winner simply by comparing win percentages. But in baseball you could end up with Cleveland with a better winning percentage than Detroit, yet Detroit beat Cleveland every time they played this year. So from another point of view besides winning percentage, you could say that Detroit is better than Cleveland.
It's that other point of view I'm interested in. If you start with two items (A and B) and know from the results table that B beat A 30 times and lost 5 times, you know B should be ranked above A. Then you look at C, which was 8-10 against B and 12-6 against A, and place it between B and A. And so on.
It seems like I'm describing a fairly simple formula, but when you start extending it, it seems like it would get really computationally heavy for large sets of items, and it would be problematic for an item that doesn't fall between two items that it would be expected to fall between based on the rankings up to that point.
Do you think such a ranking system is feasible? Does this concept already have a name? Would it be possible to set up a system of queries that could reasonably provide results in real-time in a web application for, say, 10,000 items?