Kaggle hosts data competitions.  They call it “An innovative solution for statistical/analytics outsourcing.”   With the advent of Big Data, data mining and predictive modeling are quickly becoming highly prized skills.  Kaggle invites companies, governments and NGOs to present datasets and problems and then invites the world’s best data scientists then compete to produce the best solutions.

“The startup just announced an $11 million round of institutional funding, quite a large amount considering this is the company’s first round,” said VentureBeat, “The funding was led by two stellar Silicon Valley firms, Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures. In addition, the company scored Max Levchin, a cofounder of PayPal and a Silicon Valley power player, as its chairman.”

Grockit is sponsoring the first education prize on Kaggle.  Like the Netflix Prize, it targets specific improvements in an algorithm.  The goal is to predict whether a student will answer the next test question correctly.  Here is the full competition description:

When studying for a test, you want to know how well you’re going to do.  More specifically, you want to know what areas you need to study more.  In order to help students answer this question, we are attempting to predict their probability of answering questions correctly.  The data in this competition comes from students studying for three tests: the GMAT, SAT, and ACT.  You are attempting to predict, for each question attempted in the test set, whether the student will answer the question correctly.  To succeed, you will need to improve on the state-of-the-art in student evaluation.  While the questions included labels indicating their specified test area, there may be structure which helps better organize the areas of knowledge involved in each question.  In the short term, this will help students figure out what areas they are weak in; but ultimately, this will help create tests to better measure what a student actually knows.  The prize pool is $5,000 ($3,000 for first, $1,500 for second and $500 for third).

Yesterday OpenEd (where Tom is CEO) announced an education prize partnership with Kaggle.  Read the full release here.

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