INFORMS News: 2018 INFORMS O.R. & Analytics Student Team Competition

More than 170 teams, made up of undergraduate and master’s students, have already registered for the 2018 INFORMS O.R. & Analytics Student Team Competition. These students are now working on a real-world business problem using an O.R./analytics approach. Registered teams come from around the world, representing universities in Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, India, Serbia, Singapore, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and 10 other countries.

While the deadline for formal registration has passed, new teams may still submit a request to register by e-mailing

This year’s problem, provided by Principal, focuses on portfolio optimization. The company is looking for insights and innovative ideas on developing a global equity optimization framework to improve risk adjusted returns. Principal has provided proprietary data sets as well as background information on the problem, the company and the industry.

A unique feature of the competition is ongoing access to Principal staff and the Competition Committee through webinars, online “office hours” and bi-weekly opportunities to submit written questions. Committee members include academics and practitioners known for their work in optimization, including John Birge, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Irv Lustig, formerly with CPLEX and now an optimization consultant with Princeton Consultants. Rina Schneur, former director of Business Analytics at Verizon, chairs the committee. Questions posed by students often lead to discussion among the Principal team and committee members that can be useful for students as they work on the problem.

Students interested in registering should e-mail: Some elements of the competition, such as an introductory webinar and one office hour session, will only be available as recordings. However, late registered teams will still have opportunities to pose questions. Written entries are due Jan. 29, 2018.

A panel of industry and academic experts will judge written submissions based on teams’ use of the full analytics process, from framing the problem to methodology selection, data use, model building and quantitative analysis. Demonstrated “soft skills” in teamwork, communication and presentation will also be considered in judging.

Eight finalists will be announced on March 5, 2018, and they will be invited to present their work at the INFORMS Analytics Conference set for April 15-17 in Baltimore. Travel and conference registration will be partially supported by INFORMS. All finalist teams receive a monetary award (first prize is $7,500), as well as certificates for each team member and the university. For complete information, visit: