Cal Poly Teams Take First and Second at Data Hackathon

Three men smiling pose together in black shirts in front of wallTwo teams of Cal Poly statistics students took home first and second place at DataFest, a data analysis competition where teams spend a weekend tackling complex datasets. 

 

One giant data set plus 48 hours equaled a first and second place finish for Cal Poly teams at the undergraduate statistics hackathon called DataFest. One team, going by the name n=30, took top honors in the best insight category while The Alphas placed second in the best use of external data category. Nearly 20 teams from five colleges, including UCLA and USC, participated in the competition.

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.

Three men with medals around their necks pose in front of a projector that reads ASA DataDest
One of two teams that competed in last month's DataFest,
a data analysis competition where teams
spend a weekend tackling complex datasets.

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 both attended and judged the competition.

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