May 19, 2016

Contact: Hunter Glanz

Cal Poly Teams Take First and Second at Data Hackathon

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly teams finished first in the best insight category and second in the best use of external data category at the undergraduate statistics hackathon called DataFest. Nearly 20 teams from five colleges, including UCLA and USC, participated in the competition, held April 29-May 1 at UCLA.

The competition gives students the chance to do hands-on analysis of real-world big data. Online ticket seller Ticketmaster provided millions of data points, and students had just under 48 hours to see what they could find.

“DataFest is a great opportunity for students to work with a set of data that’s much larger than what we can usually offer them in a classroom setting,” said Hunter Glanz, a statistics professor and the teams’ faculty advisor.

The team that won for best insight built a filter to predict how successful an event will be at a venue where it’s never been held. The other team calculated the average price of a ticket by county and compared that to economic census data to see whether ticket prices were reasonable for that region.

Working directly with data from a large business gave the students a unique experience. “We were able to take an actual company's data and develop our own insight, visualization and inferences at a much bigger scale than we can in class,” said Shreyas Doshi, who worked on the external data team.

Students also got a taste of how to use data in a business setting. “In the real world, you have to learn how statistics affects marketing decisions. DataFest showed us how to take that next step that is usually only learned in an internship or job,” Doshi said.

Throughout the weekend, students had time to network with professionals from Ticketmaster, who attended the competition and judged the entries.

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