Northwestern University graduate students take on big data using Teradata Aster discovery platform in hackathon

Winning team applies analytics to U.S. presidential speeches, discovers link in positivity and popularity

CHICAGO, May 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Teradata Corporation (NYSE: TDC), the big data analytics and marketing applications company today announced winners from the second annual Teradata Aster and Northwestern University Hackathon event held April 29. A hackathon is a data mining competition during which data science experts and students compete using advanced analytics platforms to resolve complex hypothetical problems. This and similar hackathons are emerging in academic culture as the dramatic explosion in global demand for practitioners in data analytics continues.

The April 29 Hackathon was led by Teradata team Lee Paries, John Thuma, Russ Ratshin and Mary Gros in collaboration with Northwestern Professor Diego Klabjan in the context of the university's Master of Science in Analytics Program. Graduate students in Northwestern's Data Sciences curriculum showcased their data science skills, competing to resolve complex problems using analytical techniques such as pattern recognition, text analysis, graph analytics and predictive computation.

"It's a fantastic time to be a database analytics quant: the job demand is explosive – and with the Teradata Aster platform's ease of use, the practice of data science is simplified so that students can dive right in with a few hours of prep," said Dr. Diego Klabjan. "As we enter the golden age of analytics-driven intelligence, the Hackathon is a great way for students to showcase their modeling skills and competence in using advanced analytic data platforms, while also developing a professional network in the global analytics community."

Thirty-six graduate students in the Northwestern Master of Science in Analytics Program competed. Students used the Teradata Aster Discovery Platform, an analytic engine designed for big data sets, to solve complex hypothetical problems in such areas as social network analysis, fraud detection, supply chain management, text analysis and money laundering.

"What is striking is that the students quickly learned how to use the Teradata Aster platform -- almost instantly -- and with no advance Aster hands-on experience, after only a short slide and demo session," said Hackathon event leader Lee Paries, Teradata regional vice president.

Winners of the hackathon are Zach Anglin and Shawn Li, a duo that performed a data sentiment analysis on all United States presidential State of the Union addresses to analyze textual content and answer the question: "Is a more positive U.S. president also a more popular one?" They found, based on database analytics that the positive presidential addresses resulted in higher popularity and approval ratings – whatever the country's problems at the time.

Judging criteria was: 40 percent, creativity pertaining to data sets and analytic theory proposed; 20 percent use case concept; 20 percent use case approach in execution and multi-genre analytic techniques; and 20 percent the ability to demonstrate and tell the story. Anglin and Li will receive passes, as prizes, to the annual Teradata PARTNERS Conference and Expo, the world's leading data analytics event in Anaheim, California, October 18-22.

The second place team, Paul Jennings and Ye Tu, analyzed reviews to identify instances of Internet bot reviews posing as authentic customers. This team also wins passes to the Teradata annual conference and expo.

More than three years ago, Teradata announced its collaboration with Northwestern University on new business and technology curricula to help students learn the science and practice of business analytics – including data warehousing techniques and platforms which are fundamental to the field of analytics. The course of study has evolved and was one of the first of its kind. Klabjan said the general business context is part of the learning, so that students are equipped to connect the dots and apply analytics to solving real business problems.

Big data volume and usage are growing steadily, and this translates to huge opportunities for businesses and organizations as well as growing demand for data analytics skills.

In addition to sponsoring the Hackathon at Northwestern University, Teradata has been helping prepare the next generation of data analysts a number of ways. The company sponsors academic activities at Teradata events -- and university partnerships, including analytic hackathons with business partners like SAS. The Teradata University Network, a web-based portal for faculty and students in data warehousing, offers business intelligence/decision support, and a database that is provided at no cost to participating universities. The Teradata University Network currently has over 1,800 registered faculty members, from over 850 universities, in 71 countries, with thousands of student users. In addition to Teradata University Network, there is a free companion site for students, the Teradata Student Network.

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See "Analysis of State of the Union Addresses Wins Hackathon" at

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