Class of 2017 Data Science graduates Roger Garriga, Javier Mas, Saurav Poudel, and Jonas Paul Westermann qualified for the final round of the Data Science Game in Paris this fall. Here is their account of the event.
Data Science Game is an annual competition organized by an association of volunteers from France. After competing in a tough online classificatory phase during the master we classified to the finals in Paris where we would be presented with a new problem to solve in a 2 days hackathon.
The hackathon was held in a palace property of Capgemini called Les Fontaines. It was an amazing building that made the experience even better.
The problem presented was to estimate the demand of 1.500 different products on 4 different countries using historic orders from 100.000 customers during the past 5 years by forecasting the three subsequent months. This was a well defined challenge that could be tackled with a large variety of solutions and for us specially the time constrain was one of the main challenges, since at the end we could be only 3 instead of 4.
We started by exploring the data and we realised that there were a lot of missing values due to a cross of databases done by the company who provided the data. So we spent some time by cleaning up the data and filling some of the missing values, to later on apply our models. After all the cleaning the key element to solve the challenge was later on to engineer good features that would represent well the data and then apply a simple model to predict the 3 months ahead.
The hackathon can be summed up in a day and a half coding, modeling and discussing without sleeping surrounded by 76 other participants from all across the world that were basically doing exactly the same, with short pauses to eat pizza, hamburgers and Indian food. So, a pretty good way to spend a weekend.