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Inaugural National Data Science Bowl Kicks Off With Plankton Identification Algorithm Challenge

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MCLEAN, Virginia -- Booz Allen Hamilton, the management and technology consulting firm, and Kaggle, the leading online data science competition community, today announced the launch of the inaugural National Data Science Bowl. A 90-day competition, the National Data Science Bowl will provide the data science community with an opportunity to utilize its skills and training to create impact on a global scale. Specifically, in this inaugural competition, participants will develop complex algorithms to advance the study of ocean health, the result of which will generate an estimated one million dollar 'in-kind' donation of analytics research to the Hatfield Marine Science Center at Oregon State University. Booz Allen Hamilton and Kaggle will also award a total of $175,000 to the top three algorithms' creators and the leading university team; the largest purse, to date, for a Kaggle competition benefitting social good.

"We are extremely honored to partner with leaders such as Kaggle and the Hatfield Marine Science Center at Oregon State for this initiative and believe its findings will be a testament to the role data science can – and should – play in solving previously impossible challenges moving forward."

"The National Data Science Bowl was born from the realization that, in order for the data science community to grow and thrive, it must be given opportunities to use its talents to benefit both business and society," said Booz Allen Hamilton's Josh Sullivan, a vice president in the firm's Strategic Innovation Group. "We are extremely honored to partner with leaders such as Kaggle and the Hatfield Marine Science Center at Oregon State for this initiative and believe its findings will be a testament to the role data science can – and should – play in solving previously impossible challenges moving forward."

The competition will task participants with examining nearly 100,000 underwater images to develop an algorithm that will enable researchers to identify and monitor planktonic organisms at a speed and scale never before possible. Extremely susceptible to changes in temperature and chemistry, a large and thriving plankton population is crucial for driving some of the planet's most life-sustaining processes. These organisms produce much of the world's oxygen and absorb a large percentage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, while serving as the foundation for all marine and many terrestrial food chains. Rapid assessment of their populations will therefore allow the scientific community to monitor ocean health at an unprecedented scale, an important step forward in understanding and protecting the environment.

"This partnership allows us to leverage a project funded by the National Science Foundation into a much larger product that will extend the capabilities of the ocean science community to rapidly assess key biological metrics of ocean conditions," said Hatfield Marine Science Center Director Bob Cowen. "The algorithms resulting from this competition will be applied to millions of images taken in a variety of marine environments, allowing cross-comparison and analysis at an unprecedented scale of detail and coverage."

The National Data Science Bowl is part of Booz Allen Hamilton's ongoing commitment to supporting data science education and awareness, evidenced by its recently launched Explore Data Science training program and Field Guide to Data Science. By partnering with Kaggle, the firm is further providing data science practitioners – from experts to novices – with the opportunity to refine and expand their analytics expertise; all while advancing critical environmental research.

Kaggle Founder and CEO Anthony Goldbloom said, "We're thrilled to be partnering with Booz Allen Hamilton and the Hatfield Marine Science Center to bring this impressive challenge to our community. With over 100 categories of marine life appearing in any orientation, this problem is pushing the boundaries of what is possible with image classification. This is an opportunity for data scientists around the world to have a real impact on the health of our oceans."

For more information on the competition as well as Booz Allen Hamilton and Kaggle's support of the data science community, please visit www.datasciencebowl.com.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.


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