UP Mathematical Statistics graduate wins big in global data science competition

Posted on December 15, 2020

Congratulations to Dr Hossein Masoumi Karakani, who was awarded a silver medal for his research prediction in the Kaggle competition, an international predictive modelling and data analytics contest.

Dr Hossein Masoumi Karakani, a UP graduate who was awarded a PhD in Mathematical Statistics in 2020, recently finished 129th out of 2 618 teams (including single-member “teams”, like Dr Karakani’s) when he took part in a Kaggle competition. He made the top 5% and took home a silver medal, becoming the first person from UP’s Department of Statistics to win a medal in the competition.

Kaggle is the world’s largest data science community and the most well-known competition platform for predictive modelling and data analytics, with at least one million registered users across the globe. It was founded in Melbourne, Australia, in 2010 and was acquired by Google in 2017. This particular research prediction competition was hosted by Kaggle in collaboration with the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease.

“Receiving this prestigious award was a massive achievement,” he says. “Rubbing shoulders with some of the smartest data scientists in the world will surely be a life-changing experience, especially for a young statistician like me. This competition showed me that I can make my mark in the hugely competitive world out there. Educational background plays a significant role in becoming a successful data scientist. During my time in the Department of Statistics, I mastered the art of programming and realised the importance of well-structured and documented code in applied statistics and real-world data science projects. Through hard work and determination, I succeeded in honing my skills to become a successful statistician.”

Competitors were provided with electric signals corresponding to ion channel data and were required to create an algorithm that could automatically identify the number of open channels at each time point. Ion channels are pore-forming proteins that are present in animals and plants, and encode learning and memory, help fight infections, enable pain signals and stimulate muscle contractions.

Dr Karakani, who completed a BSc degree at Allameh Tabataba'i University in Iran and an MSc at UP, has experience in both teaching and research. As a data scientist at Knowledge Integration Dynamics (KID), he is involved in predictive analytics projects and plays a key role in delivering insights and implementing action-oriented solutions to complex business and technology problems.

His advice to would-be statisticians? “The decision to become a data scientist is similar to choosing a delicious starter from a plethora of options in a restaurant,” he says. “For anyone who dreams of a career in this field, I recommend the following: get your fundamentals strong enough by mastering the theory; master statistics and probability – the bread and butter of the data science realm; participate in competitions to pick up new skills; and make your GitHub profile alive and complete with end-to-end implementation, including documentation.”


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