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Bing it!

Brrring! Brrrrrinng! Brrrrrrrrrring!


It’s 6:30 a.m. already. On this Saturday too!

Have to rush. Rush! Rush!! Rush!!!

Why? The Bing Hackathon, of course.

Call up the rest of the team. Ask them to hurry! Finally reach Microsoft. Funny thing is, all of the team reach at the same time. Good.

We reach the hack area. No one here yet. Nice!

We set up the desk at the reception. All set to welcome the hackers.

8:30 a.m. and the first of the hackers stream in. A minor trickle becomes a deluge. Tada! Just like that, 165 participants! Orders come from above to close the gates. Venue can’t take any more. With deep regret, we have to turn away the rest. But, attendance is first come, first serve.

Before the hack gets underway, we do our usual icebreaker session. The marshmallow and spaghetti thing. Old hat for us, but not for the attendees. Lots of new faces at this hack! Understandably so. Because this is a datathon! For experienced data scientists. We probably got all of the data guys in Bangalore to attend!

Ok. Icebreaker session over. Now it’s time to get serious. It’s kick off time!!

The Microsoft team introduce Microsoft and Bing to the attendees. We chuckle among ourselves. As if Microsoft Bing needs an introduction!

Following this, the Microsoft team give the attendees the list of rules and procedures. As well as the problem statement.

The problem statement is interesting. It’s a bit out of this world.

Apparently, documents from the planet Klauti have come into the Bing team’s hands. Upon inspection, the documents appear to be about three technical disciplines: psychohistory, computational neuropharmacology and sociophilosophy. The task is to build a classifier that categorizes these documents into the 3 different topics. Also, to help out the Bing team, figure out the year of publication.

There is also a bonus challenge. This task is to masquerade as a Klautian academic. We don’t have time to go into the full details here. But overall, both statements seem cool! Or should we say Klaual?

The hacking and submission procedure is a bit different from the norm. Participants can submit 5 times. 3 submissions on the first day. 2 on the second. The Bing team evaluates the best submission out of these.

After we let the participants digest this information, they get to hacking. Come 1 p.m., the first teams submit. A panel of judges from the Microsoft team walk around picking the brains of the participants. Cannibalism ftw!

Time goes by. Lunch time. This time, participants digest on the fantastic lunch the Bing team provides.

After lunch, more coding until dinner. We hang around. Prateek, our Coder-in-chief is on hand to help out with queries. And intelligent queries they are too! What else would you expect from this crowd??

End of the day approaches. Teams still keep coding. Many have submitted 3 times already. All set for the second day! As usual, most code throughout the night!!

Next day dawns.

8:30 a.m. The Bing team serves us breakfast. Wonderfully sumptuous.

9:00 a.m. It’s the final round of judging. While we wait for the results, we hold quizzes and games to keep attendees entertained.

Finally, the moment arrives. Winner announcement!

Here is the list of winners:

  • 1st place: LethalDoge. Sharpen your knives! Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh! With a lethal attack, this team destroys all comers as they take first
  • 2nd place: Perpendicular. Right triangles rule! Deviating at right angles, this team takes home second
  • 3rd place: Munch. Nom nom nom nom. Munching away to third, this team shows us how these ML problems whet one’s appetite
  • 4th place: Marauders. Crash. Bang. Harumph! Destroying everything in its path, this team rampages its way to 4th

We congratulate the teams. But the hack is not over yet! This is a LEARNING experience. So these winning teams have to give a short 5-minute presentation regarding their ideas. Their approach and any difficulties faced.

As teams present, we understand why they have won! Good, clean approach and meticulous attention to detail. In fact, we feel it’s hard to single out the winner! We are learning a lot!!

After the presentation, the hack concludes. But not before everyone has lunch. Everyone also gets cool T-shirts and a few goodies. We manage to get some too. We do deserve it, we think. 😉

We all walk away happy. A great end to a great hack!

Liked it at the hack? Bing it on at the next hack. Check out our webpage for a complete list of new challenges. Plenty of cool problem statements to work on that are truly out of this world!!


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Bharat Ramakrishna

Blogger. Part-time mathematics enthusiast. Loves esoteric and quirky things. Bibliophile. Has a wide range of interests including playing chess and pool, juggling and creating puzzles of fiendish difficulty. Grammar Nazi.