Computing students smoke competition in bush fire data mining competition win

Alasdair Tran and Lee Wei Yen
Thursday 5 November 2015

Two ANU computing students have recently taken out the Australian Data Mining 2015 student competition.  With a first place prize of $2500.00 the competition was fierce, but the strong computing foundations of Alasdair Tran and Lee Wei Yen got them through to beat 9 other teams from across Australia and New Zealand. 

Alasdair who is currently completing Bachelor of Science (Hons) Computer Science and Lee Wei Yen Masters of Computing were asked to analyse a dataset about fire incidents in NSW, with the goal of predicting whether a fire incident occurred in an unrevealed postcode, given the weather variables. 

“If I give you completely random data, and if you stare at them for long enough, you can probably find some patterns. Of course, we know that those patterns are meaningless, so we say that you have "overfitted" the data.”

The boys’ solution was to implement a program to fill in the missing data; using standard linear regression techniques and training a logistic classifier.

Alasdair and Lee Wei Yen trace their ability to clean the data and provide a workable solution to win the competition back to the many classes they completed as coursework.

Access to some of the imminent thinkers in data mining, machine learning and databases simply by virtue of being an ANU student feed strongly into their winning strategy

“We were able to use the skills that Dr Lexing Xie and Dr Peter Christen taught us in COMP3420 (Advanced Databases and Data Mining) and COMP8400 (Algorithms and Techniques for Data Mining). When we trained our classifiers, we managed to utilise the knowledge that we gained from taking COMP4670 (Introduction to Statistical Machine Learning) last semester.”

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