University Malaya team wins world’s first online academia datathon

  • Team Umalaya beat a total of 130 participants from 6 countries and 10 universities.
  • Task was to analyse and build an AI decision-maker for cryptocurrency trading

University Malaya team wins world’s first online academia datathon

 

A TEAM from the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur took first place in the world's first online Academia Datathon last weekend, beating a total of 130 participants from 6 countries and 10 universities. Team Umalaya managed to impress the jury with a prediction model of the major cryptocurrencies' prices, as well as developing an autonomous AI decision-maker for cryptocurrency trading and investing. (See their final presentation here.)

"Winning the Academia Datathon challenge is like a dream come true," says team leader Mohamad Nazrin Napiah, currently studying a Masters of Computer Science at the University of Malaya. "We worked very hard and tried our best to apply our knowledge."

Besides Mohamad Nazrin, other team members included Nur Baiti Afini Normadhi, Prasanta Sathasivam, Yee Xun Wei, Sabrina Kamal Izat and Nur Hidayah Rosli. The team was mentored by senior lecturers from the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, and included Dr Hoo Wai Lam, Dr Nor Liyana Mohd Shuib and Dr Muhammad Reza Zaba.

"The Datathon challenge was a whole new experience," says Prasanta Sathasivam. "It was a team effort and we are glad we were able to apply what we learnt into practice.”

A representative from the competition added team Umalaya impressed the jury with their well-structured work and the use of an unusual method to solve tasks.  The second place went to Team UNWE formed by young Bulgarian Data Scientists, while third was taken by team Cryptomonkeys from Bulgaria as well.

The Academia Datathon is a weekend-long online competition where participants are challenged to work on analyzing and predicting cryptocurrency markets using actual data provided by the organizers.

 

We went like, hell yes!

"(A) datathon is very specific," says Sharala Axryd, the founder and CEO of The Center of Applied Data Science (CADS), as compared to hackathons, adding that the data sets given are more precise and a solution needs to be developed using AI.

Sharala, who is a DNA Digerati50, learned about this competition when she started talking to the Data Science Society based in Europe. The head of Data Science in Bulgaria asked Sharala, "Would anybody in your country be interested because we have never had ASEAN universities participating?" Sharala's answer: "We went like, 'hell yes!'"

Sharala reached out to Dr Sri Devi Ravana, the University of Malaya's Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology's Department of Information Systems, Head. "We only had two months," recalls Sharala. "I told her, by hook or crook we're going to start this because if not we'll never start"

"We didn't know such a competition existed," said Sri Devi, "I think that is a good thing what ADAX and CADS are doing."

From the beginning, the competition was taken seriously.  "The students had a pre-workshop even before they started," she explains, noting that not all the participants understood the finer details of cryptocurrency. "We briefed them what to expect."

Before the weekend, Sri Devi's ambitions were modest, hoping to be placed in the top 20%. She attributed any success to the team's positive attitude. "I think they have the passion to make it work.”

 

Demand for Data Scientists

All the students in the competition were from the Computer Science department courses in which they have embedded data science course. "We have not started Bachelor of Science in data science but we are going to offer it next semester in 2019," shares Sri Devi.

Certainly, there currently seems to be a demand for Data Scientists in Malaysia, based on Sharala's experience with a previous intake of 113 students. "When these kids finished suddenly they were getting job offers everywhere," she said.

"The journey now that we are creating for data science is so critical," enthuses Sharala. "This could create a whole different industry in this country by 2020 or 2025."

With the University of Malaya's win, Sharala is excited for the future. "Next year we will do this annual datathon in Malaysia with more universities."

 

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