Alibaba Cloud and the UK Met Office to Co-organise Tianchi Data Mining Contest

Global competition for solutions to climate challenges for future generations

Hangzhou, China, 12 October 2017 – Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, today announced at the Computing Conference in Hangzhou China that it will organise a data mining contest with the Met Office, the United Kingdom’s national meteorological service. Data experts from around the world will be invited to use Tianchi, Alibaba Cloud’s global big data crowd intelligence platform, to develop solutions relating to a potential future world in which deliveries by unmanned balloons must be optimised to navigate the variabilities of the UK weather.

The contest will be set in 2050, in a world where the invention of ‘anti-gravity engines’ has led to the creation of unmanned balloons as the preferred logistics solution. However, because of the UK’s complex meteorological conditions, the balloons are occasionally delayed, damaged or even destroyed by extreme weather conditions causing disruption and loss. The contestants will be challenged to create algorithms that can plan flight routes for these balloons to navigate the endless variation and changeable nature across the UK to optimise their delivery schedules and costs. The team which comes up with the best solution will win USD10,000 cloud credits and an internship opportunity at the Met Office.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Participants will be able to test their algorithms and modify their models accordingly” hashtags=”Cloud, Technology”]

Contestants will utilise public meteorological data provided by the Met Office in categories including rainfall and wind speed. Changing temperatures, rainfall, wind speed in area grids of four square kilometres and five-minute time intervals will be selected to challenge the resilience of the balloons. This will be overlaid with data for the balloons such as take-off and landing locations, maximum fly time and speed, as well as a set of limiting factors such as collision avoidance parameters. Participants will be able to test their algorithms and modify their models accordingly.

“We are excited about hosting the competition with the Met Office. We share a vision to develop solutions that can solve real-life problems of global interest. This competition will challenge the participants in a scenario with real-life factors to test both their technological capability and creative thinking. We look forward to receiving innovative solutions from data talent around the world,” said Wanli Min, Chief Machine Intelligence Scientist, Alibaba Cloud.

“Since our foundation in 1854, the Met Office has been striving to continuously improve the accuracy and usefulness of weather forecasting. We are excited that data from our forecasting systems is part of this challenging competition. We hope all contestants will enjoy the British weather as much as we do, even if it pushes them to the limit,” said Alberto Arribas, Head Informatics Lab, Met Office.

There are more than 100,000 developers and 2,700 academic institutes and businesses from 73 countries and regions in the Tianchi community. Through hosting big data competitions, such as this, Tianchi pools the wisdom of data experts from around the world and leverages the expertise of the Alibaba Cloud data scientists to develop professional solutions for various verticals including smart manufacturing, aviation, transportation and logistics. The Tianchi scientists’ creativity will help entities in different sectors to address real-world challenges. An example of this is the successful KDD Cup 2017 competition, deemed the “Data Mining Olympics”, in which 3,582 teams participated to develop solutions to predict the traffic flow of highway tollgates.

The contest will open for registration on 30 October. For more information, please visit the Tianchi website from 30 October.

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