“An organization runs a competition by proposing a riddle it needs answered and offering years of data. Anyone can enter to crunch the data and answer the riddle to win a cash prize.”

November 3rd, 2011

This start-up, Kaggle, allows holders of big data sets to host competitions, and allow participants to crunch their data. Kaggle aims to take a cut of the prize money. They are funded by Google. What a good idea! They seem to have 18,000 players and 49,000 entries. Maybe FantasySCOTUS will be there one day?

Some examples:

Currently, a health plan is offering $3 million to someone who can take years of patients’ medical claim data and produce an equation to predict whether patients will be hospitalized in the next year, so doctors can try to intervene beforehand. It has almost 8,000 entries so far. A bank is offering $5,000 to someone who can use credit score data to come up with a better way to predict whether someone who receives a loan will enter financial distress in the next two years.

The 17,000 people who have registered to answer questions include professors, a glaciologist and an English major. About half are computer scientists but the best performers are physicists, Mr. Goldbloom said. They do it because “data science is an area where it’s really difficult to prove your own skills and get access to interesting data sets,” said Jeremy Howard, Kaggle’s chief data scientist.

Plus this Kaggle in class feature looks cool for class experiments.