Competition Rules


  • The INFORMS OR & Analytics Student Team Competition is open to students enrolled in undergraduate and master’s degree programs anywhere in the world.
  • Teams may be made up of exclusively undergraduate or exclusively master’s level students, or a mix.
  • Teams should be at least 3 people, with no greater than 10 members.
  • Team members may be enrolled in any type of degree program.
  • There is no limit on the number of entries from one course, program or school. 
  • A team may be made up of students from multiple universities.  These may be universities in a single country or universities in multiple countries.
  • Team members must be enrolled as students during the time period of the competition. Students who graduate in December 2017 who participated on the team during  2017 can still be considered team members after graduation. 
  • While we encourage INFORMS members to participate, membership in INFORMS is not required for the 2018 competition.

Role of Advisor:

A faculty member or PhD student may serve as advisor to student teams, with the understanding that the primary work is done by the students. Advisors should not be involved in setting the direction of the analysis or in the analysis itself. It is not necessary for a team to have an advisor to be eligible.


Monetary awards will be granted to up to 8 finalist teams.  Award values for the 2018 competition are: First Prize - $7,500; Second Prize - $5,000; Third Prize - $3,500; Fourth Prize - $1,500; Second Prize - $1,000; Honorable Mention (three prizes) - $500.

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.


INFORMS will be responsible for judging and selecting the winners. The Title Sponsor shall only have access to information necessary to assist in evaluation of entries.

In the event that submissions of sufficient quality are not submitted to justify the awarding of all prizes, the award committee reserves the right to eliminate any or all of the prize levels.

All decisions of the award committee are final. The awards will be made in U.S. Dollars. All currency exchange costs are the responsibility of the winners.

Other Rules: 

Awards may be subject to taxes depending on the winners’ countries. Winners are responsible to comply with all tax requirements.

INFORMS shall have the right to use, modify and make available to the public the submitted idea for the purposes of judging, advertising, promotion, administration, testing and demonstration.

Intellectual property rights to the contest submission, if any, will be the property of the participant. The participant must grant to Principal a license to publish, distribute and use the work product. Teams selected as finalists will be required to submit the computer code they used in their solution.  

Participants agree that personal data collected by INFORMS may be stored and displayed to the public within the context of the competition.

Participants represent and warrant that they have the right to submit their idea to the competition, that they are the sole and exclusive owner of the idea, and that the idea or submission of the idea does not violate any applicable law in any country.

Participants represent and warrant that they will not submit any idea that infringes on any third-party intellectual property, trade secret or confidentiality obligation.

To the maximum extent permitted by law, each participant indemnifies and agrees to keep indemnified INFORMS and the 2018 Title Sponsor, their affiliates, agents, directors, officers, employees, representatives and assigns harmless from and against any liability, claims, demands, losses, damages and costs resulting from any act, default or omission of the participant and/or a breach or any warranty set forth herein.

To the extent permitted by law the rules, terms and conditions for the contest are governed by the laws of Maryland.


Competition Timeline

Student teams will be given the same business problem, data sets and access to software to solve a challenging problem using an OR/analytics approach. There are two stages of the competition:

  • Stage 1: Written entries submitted by January 29, 2018. A judging panel made up of industry and academic experts will select finalists from the written entries.
  • Stage 2: Eight finalist teams will make oral presentations at the INFORMS Business Analytics Conference, April 15-17, in Baltimore, MD. Winners will be announced at the conference. 


September 18, 2017

The preliminary written problem statement, without datasets or software, published on the competition web page. 

October 13, 2017

Registration opens for teams to register their intent to compete. 

October - Date To Be Announced

Registered teams will receive instructions on how to access data sets and software, as well as entry instructions and the final problem statement. Registered teams will later be invited to attend a webinar presented by the Title Sponsor staff and to submit written questions for response. 

October - December, 2017

Students will be given many opportunities to interact with Principal staff members through informational webinars, regular "office hour" sessions, and special Q&A processes. Details and times coming soon. Teams must be registered to be invited to these interaction opportunities.

December 1, 2017

Deadline for teams to register their intent to compete.  While registration is non-binding, it indicates your team’s interest in the competition. Only registered teams will receive datasets and software access, and be invited to interact with Principal staff.

January 29, 2018 - 11:59pm EST

Deadline for receipt of written entries.


March 5, 2018

Finalists selected and announced. 


April 15-17, 2018

Finalist presentations at the INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research, April 15-17, 2018, in Baltimore, MD.  Finalist teams will rehearse on Sunday, April 15; presentations will be made on Monday, April 16; announcement of the winners will be held at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 17.