Machine Learning Challenge at the Imagine Cup

This post is authored by Chirag Dhull, Product Marketing Manager, and Wee Hyong Tok, Senior Program Manager, at Microsoft.

Calling all student data science aspirants:

Microsoft has launched an online Cortana Analytics Suite challenge as part of the Imagine Cup “Hello Cloud” contest.

Imagine Cup, one of Microsoft’s premier student technology programs, provides a variety of challenges and opportunities for young aspirants to skill up. The Cortana Analytics and Imagine Cup teams are partnering with each other to bring to you this opportunity to show-off your data science and app development skills.


Two winners will get invited for a 4-day trip to Redmond, where – among other things – they will get to:

  • Participate in the Imagine Cup world finals, where top student startups will compete for the coveted 2016 title.
  • Meet with the Corporate Vice President of the Data Group, Joseph Sirosh, and other senior leadership.
  • Get an up-close look at the Cortana Analytics development process.
  • Check out intelligent apps, prototypes and demos yet to be seen by the broad public.

Microsoft will cover travel expenses for the winners, including flights, meals and accommodation.

So What’s the Online Challenge?

You will need to build a “churn analytics” game app powered by Azure ML’s data science models. “Churn” is a term used to describe a situation where an existing customer stops using a product or service. It's a common scenario encountered by all businesses, and an important one in the context of online gaming as well. A gamer at risk of churning is somebody who is inclined to stop playing. In order to keep the gamer involved, developers can use machine learning techniques to identify potential gamers who are likely to churn and then take steps during the game to intervene. Based on past player history and data for similar players, you need to determine when a gamer is likely to quit. At that point, you will offer them a bonus, achievement, or other incentive which will keep them in the game and playing longer.

Submission Deadline

The deadline to submit your entries is 23:59 GMT on 27th April 2016. For details on eligibility, how to participate and judging criteria, check the Imagine Cup site here.

We hope many of you will participate and look forward to welcoming the winners to Microsoft.

Chirag and Wee Hyong
Follow Chirag on Twitter