Awards/Judging Criteria


Monetary awards will be granted to up to 8 finalist teams. 

First Prize: $7,500
Second Prize:  $5,000
Third Prize: $3,500
Fourth Prize: $1,500
Fifth Prize: $1,000
Honorable Mention: $500 (3 prizes)

Winners will also receive award certificates for each team member and for the school. In addition, each finalist team will receive a $2,500 stipend to offset the cost of travel for team members who present at the INFORMS Business Analytics Conference. Conference registration will be provided for up to 5 student members per finalist team.

Judging Criteria

The written report your team provides in this entry form is the foundation of your entry.  Entries will be judged on use of the full analytics process – incorporating not only the technical analysis and solution, but also understanding of the business problem, team organization, and the clarity and effectiveness of communication.  Think of this report as a presentation to Principal’s upper management on the critical elements in the analytics decision process. 

The overall challenge is to use the available data to provide the best risk-adjusted returns of your portfolio for the given time horizon after adjusting for turnover costs.  As noted in the problem statement, your team’s solution will be compared with a benchmark portfolio’s performance over the sample period.  Entries will be judged by the clarity of the solution, the technical strength of the methodology, the uniqueness of the approach, the degree to which the data support your conclusions, and written presentation. 

The following are the main criteria and weighting judges will consider when evaluating your entry:

Quality of Solution (40 points)

  • The report demonstrates that the methodology finds optimal (or near optimal) solutions to the optimization problem given in the problem statement with the potential addition of elements to control turnover and satisfying all other constraints.
  • The problem is clearly defined.
  • Objectives and tradeoffs are addressed and weighed. In particular, the report addresses how the constraints impact the solution and the objective quality (i.e., some form of sensitivity analysis).
  • The report proposes a solution that makes sense and adds value to Principal. The report assesses how well the solution meets the criteria of the stakeholders.  The analysis assesses how sensitive the solution is to assumptions and data.

Methodology/Modeling (40 points)

  • Data used in the model have been collected, cleaned and analyzed correctly.
  • The methodology(ies) used for solving the problem is(are) reasonable and appropriate.
  • The model has been clearly formulated, with decision variables and parameters defined. The model formulation is correct and applicable to the problem.
  • Simplifying assumptions made in the model are clearly stated, reasonable, and assessed.
  • The report presents a clear methodology that effectively and creatively addresses the additional constraints that introduce nonconvexities.
  • The report presents a justification for its procedure of including turnover costs into the model.
  • The proposed solution can be executed efficiently for each re-balancing point.
  • The report demonstrates that the methodology can be scaled up to much larger problem sizes.

Quality of Presentation (20 points)

  • The report is clearly written (few typos; few distracting grammatical hiccups; appendices, tables and figures are well-labeled and easy to read).
  • The writing is coherent, fluid, and has a clear structure.
  • All sources are credited.
  • The Executive Summary is appropriately written for the target audience (Principal executives).
  • The team makeup and process are clearly described so that the reader can understand the division of labor and workflow of the project.

Finalist Selection, Presentation and Judging

Eight finalist teams will be selected from the written entries.  Finalists will make oral presentations during a competition session at the INFORMS Business Analytics Conference, April 15-17, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. Judges will evaluate teams’ presentation skills in addition to the strength of the written entries.  They will consider factors such as:

  • Clarity and effectiveness of communication
  • Visual aids and use of visualization
  • Materials and handouts
  • Handling and completeness of responses to judges’ questions

All finalist presentations will be videotaped so the presentations can be shared.