Rate My Professor Challenge Winners!

By | MDSTPosts

Placement & Prizes

(Final Leaderboard Link)

1st: DaBrain – Guangsha Shi, Sean Ma, Sheng Yang

$200 Amazon Gift Card + MDST T-shirts

2nd: The Data Miners – Alexander Zaitzeff, Ryan Sandberg

$100 Amazon Gift Card + MDST T-shirts

3rd: Arya Farahi

MDST T-shirt

Strategy Discussion

Congratulations are in order to DaBrain, who in the last week of the competition rocketed through the leaderboard, displacing the incumbent finalists and finishing out the competition in first place! DaBrain employed the only neural network algorithm in the competition, leveraging the power of the LSTM architecture for Recurrent Neural Networks against this document-based dataset. LSTM-RNN’s have seen great experimental results on NLP tasks in recent years, making this choice in algorithm particularly exciting for the Rate My Professor Challenge.

Our second place finalists, The Data Miners, lead the leaderboard for many weeks after the beginning of the challenge. The Data Miners managed an impressive number of submissions, more than double that of the next most frequently submitting team. In the end, an ensembling method combining ridge regression, random forest regression, and gradient boosting- as well as some hacky tricks beyond explanation- allowed The Data Miners to seize second place!

Our third place finisher was Arya Farahi, a PhD student of Physics. His final approach was well reasoned, relying on a small family of simple, easily interpreted predictors. Employing Ridge, Lasso, and logistic regressions, as well as a measure of ‘happiness’ described by an academic paper (Dodds, et al 2015), Arya was able to build out a highly transparent, robust model with very little additional tinkering.

Final Words

The MDST administration would like to thank everyone who participated. We deeply appreciate all the time and energy our members put into these competitions. We’ve learned a lot from our first internal competition and we hope you all did as well!

As always, send us your questions, comments, concerns, and suggestions to mdst-exec@umich.edu.

MDST Rate My Professor Challenge Kickoff

By | MDSTPosts

The Michigan Data Science Team will be kicking off our second data science competition of the year next week! At this meeting, we will be introducing the competition dataset and giving a live demo of a script to help get you started. You do not need to have participated in the last challenge to compete! Unlike the Springleaf challenge, this will be an entirely internal competition, and will be especially geared towards those new to data science.

  • MDST RateMyProfessors Challenge Kickoff Meeting
  • Date: Nov. 5th (Thursday)
  • Time: 5 – 6 PM
  • Location: Beyster 1690

Add to Google Calendar

This challenge will feature ratings of professors, written by university students. Your task is to infer the numerical rating assigned to a professor by their student from their rating’s text. To be successful, your solutions will need to extract interesting, useful features from this text and apply them effectively. The best solutions will draw inspiration from research in natural language processing, sentiment analysis, and deep learning.

Competition Features:

  • Big prizes!
  • Weekly tutorials and starter scripts
  • Teammate matching
  • Data visualization challenge
  • Flux allocations for all competitors
  • Leaderboard hosted on Kaggle In Class

Springleaf Winners Announced

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The Springleaf Marketing Response Challenge is now over! Thank you and congratulations to all the dedicated students who competed. In total, we had over 50 students and 20 teams participate in this competition.

1st Place: $200 Amazon Gift Card + T-Shirts

#34 – Cantseetherandomforestforthetrees

Alexander Zaitzeff and Jared Webb

2nd Place: $100 Amazon Gift Card + T-Shirts

#545 – Physteam

Arya Farahi and Anthony Kremin

3rd Place: T-Shirts

#552 – GGBrown

Xiang Li, Xinyu Tan, Tianpei Xie, and Jianming Sang


We graciously acknowledge Soartech for funding for the MDST Springleaf Challenge.

Springleaf Marketing Response

By | MDSTPosts

MDST will be participating in its first ever online data science competition, the Springleaf Marketing Response Challenge, during the first few weeks of the Fall semester. In this challenge, competitors are tasked with preemptively identifying customers who will respond to a direct mail offer for a personal or auto loan. For privacy reasons, features are completely anonymized, encouraging competitors to employ creative data-driven feature selection methods.

Deadline: Monday, 19 October 2015

More Information

MDST Prizes

1st Place: $200 Amazon Gift Card + T-Shirts 2nd Place: $100 Amazon Gift Card + T-Shirts 3rd Place: T-Shirts

Kaggle Prizes

1st: $40,000 2nd: $30,000 3rd: $15,000 4th: $10,000 5th: $5,000


We graciously acknowledge Soartech for funding for the MDST Springleaf Challenge.