Optimizing investments: Student teams compete to create equity portfolios with analytics and operations research


Ashley Smith
Public Affairs Coordinator

Optimizing investments: Student teams compete to create equity portfolios with analytics and operations research

Baltimore, MD, April 17, 2018 – Balancing risk to achieve a high performing investment portfolio is a challenge for the most seasoned investment manager. Student teams around the world have shown they are more than ready for the challenge, with a group of students from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel successfully using operations research (O.R.) and analytics to create a competitive equity portfolio to win the second annual O.R. & Analytics Student Team Competition.

This competition, run by INFORMS, the leading international association for operations research and analytics professionals, was created to challenge students to apply their considerable talent to develop solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing our world today. The problem and funding for the 2018 competition was provided by Principal® a leading international retirement savings and asset management company with millions of customers in more than 80 countries.  

Eight teams comprised of both graduate and undergraduate O.R. and analytics students from around the world competed in this year’s competition. They each used the same data sets and software options to develop an equity portfolio optimization framework that improves the balance between risk and return on investment. In addition, the students were required to maintain a diverse portfolio that was fully invested at all times. 

“The O.R. & Analytics Student Team Competition is unique in its ability to highlight the incredible talent of the next generation of young O.R. and analytics professionals,” said Melissa Moore, executive director of INFORMS. “By challenging students with complex, real-world problems, the competition provides them with valuable experience that will set them apart from their peers.”

“Our team is thrilled for the opportunity to not only compete against so many talented teams, but to challenge ourselves in ways that will better prepare us for the future,“ said Adina Marciano, student team leader. “This competition has shown us that we have the solid educational foundation necessary to launch successful careers.” 

In addition to the team from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, seven other universities were finalists in the 2018 competition:

  • Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Republic of Korea
  • Özyeğin University, Turkey
  • Queen’s University, Canada
  • Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
  • University of Belgrade, Serbia
  • University of Bern, Switzerland
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, U.S. 

The winning team was announced at the 2018 INFORMS Business Analytics Conference, in Baltimore, MD, following a final oral presentation by each finalist team. Prior to the conference, finalists were selected by a panel of industry and academic experts based on each teams’ use of the full analytics process, from framing the problem to methodology selection, data use, model building, and quantitative analysis. 

“Principal® is proud to support this year’s O.R. & Analytics Student Team Competition, and highlight the essential role that data management plays in addressing the many complex problems of financial investing and management,” said Joseph Byrum, Chief Data Scientist, Principal® Financial Group. 

For more information about the INFORMS O.R. & Analytics Student Team Competition, visit http://connect.informs.org/oratc/home



With 12,500 members from nearly 90 countries, INFORMS is the largest international association of operations research (O.R.) and analytics professionals and students. INFORMS provides unique networking and learning opportunities for individual professionals, and organizations of all types and sizes, to better understand and use O.R. and analytics tools and methods to transform strategic visions and achieve better outcomes.

Visit www.informs.org or @informs.