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Rinat Sergeev

Harvard NASA Tournament Lab

Using Algorithmic Contests to crack Algorithmic Problems

The Harvard NASA Tournament Lab is a joint venture of NASA, Harvard Business School, and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science. On the development side, our mission is to design and field competitions or tournaments that generate the best computer code and data analytics for NASA and other federal government agencies. Software developers are awarded prizes for the production of finished packages that can be delivered at comparatively low cost. This approach, often termed “crowdsourcing,” enables researchers to conduct experiments under optimal design parameters. On the academic side, we are studying the process of crowdsourcing from the problems that can be most efficiently solved by the crowd, to incentives for crowd members to participate in the solution development.

In my talk I am going to address the strong sides and trade offs of crowdsourcing, methodology of algorithmic tournaments, and demonstrate the outcomes of algorithmic projects ran by our Lab.

Predicting atrocities; Finding ancient structures from space; Fueling the International Space Station; Searching for asteroids on images; Optimizing the space radar… What do all these topics have in common? These and many other algorithms were developed through algorithmic competitions held in one of the largest developer crowd-communities.