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Students win $25,000 at the Waterloo Data Open

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Photography by Jon White

Over 100 undergraduate and graduate students gathered in Mathematics 3 early Saturday morning to tackle large datasets at The Data Open, a competition that brings together the best minds in mathematics, engineering, science and technology to collaborate and compete using the world’s most important data sets. Students received the data sets at 8:00 a.m. and, in teams of three to four, had until 3:30 p.m. to analyze the data, extract meaningful insights, and propose solutions to a socially impactful problem.

Students working on the data set at the Data OpenSimilar to hackathons for software engineers, these live-action competitions use real-world data to develop and substantiate solutions instead of building apps. After the teams completed their solution reports, students networked with Correlation One and Citadel employees, while a panel of three judges reviewed the 22 submissions.

“Our students had the opportunity to showcase their skills while modelling a meaningful, real-world problem,” said Professor Stefan Steiner, chair of the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science and a judge of the competition. “The overall quality of the submissions was outstanding. It was remarkable how much the student teams accomplished in just over seven hours.”

The team in first place received $20,000, with second and third place teams each receiving $2,500. The winners of this year’s competition were all University of Waterloo students:

  • 1st prize: Priyank Jaini (PhD, Computer Science), Ankai Jie (4A, Computer Science), Neil Lin (3B, Computer Science), and Sai Praneeth Mupparapu (MASc, Mechanical and Mechatronics)

Team 6 holding the giant $20,000 cheque

  • 2nd prize: Patrick Zheng Li (4B, Statistics and Actuarial Science), Rahul Patel (5B, Computer Science), Simon Suo (5B, Computer Science), and Yuchi (Richard) Zhang (4A, Computer Science)
  • 3rd prize: Ronak Pradeep (3B, Computer Science and Combinatorics & Optimization), Sidhant Saraogi (4A, Computer Science), Terry TaeWoong Um (PhD, Electrical and Computer Science), and Yezhi Zhang (4B, Statistics and Actuarial Science)

In addition to a financial prize, the winning team gains automatic entry into the final Data Open competition where they will compete against teams from schools including Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and University of California, Berkeley. They also receive the opportunity to interview with Citadel and Citadel Securities.

 “Datathon was a great event that exercised critical statistical thinking under time constraints,” said Liu, a member of the 1st place team. “The opportunity to tackle a big problem from a technical perspective complemented the theoretical and applied foundation that Waterloo teaches.”

The competition was held by Citadel and Citadel Securities in partnership with Correlation One and Waterloo’s Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science. To apply, students complete a brief survey and answer a 60-minute, 15 question multiple choice assessment. Correlation One received over 500 applications for the Waterloo Datathon and invited only 110 students.

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