Iowa State teams finish 1st, 8th at international data mining competition

The first place team at the 2019 International Data Mining Cup pose with their awards as well as a check for 2,000 euro. Photo courtesy of

Two teams from Iowa State University placed in the top 10 at the 2019 International Data Mining Cup.

A team of Iowa State students from the industrial and manufacturing systems engineering (IMSE) and statistics departments took the top spot at the competition which just celebrated its 20th year. The team consisted of Qihao Zhang (Statistics), Qinglong Tian (Statistics), Shaodong Wang (IMSE), Zerui Zhang (IMSE), Xingche Guo (Statistics), Yifan Zhu (Statistics), Haoyan Hu (Statistics), Gang Han (Statistics), Haihan Yu (Statistics), Lijin Zhang (Statistics), Yueying Wang (Statistics) and Wenting Zhao (Statistics).

A second team of IMSE and statistics students took 8th place. That team consisted of Oscar Aguilar (Statistics), Hanisha Vemireddy (IMSE), Samira Karimzadeh (IMSE), Reyhaneh Bijari (IMSE), Kanak Choudhury (Statistics) and Souradeep Chattopadhyay (Statistics).

Max Morris

“This was a great accomplishment for both our students and for our university,” said Max Morris, Chair of Iowa State’s Department of Statistics who has a courtesy appointment in IMSE.


The winning teams were invited to Berlin, Germany for a celebration ceremony on July 3 and the first place team took home 2,000 euro in prize money. All of the students on both teams completed Steve Vardeman’s STAT 602: Modern Multivariate Statistical Learning course last spring. Vardeman is a university professor with appointments in IMSE and statistics.

Teams at this year’s competition were tasked with uncovering cases of fraud in mobile self-scanning in food retailing. This year’s competition consisted of 149 teams from 114 universities and 28 different countries.

“This was an excellent opportunity for our students and our university to shine on an international stage,” said Gül E. Kremer, professor and C.G. “Turk” & Joyce A. Therkildsen Department Chair of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering. “This was also a great example of our focus on interdepartmental collaboration. IMSE and statistics have a long history of strong collaboration that is evident in joint faculty appointments. Specifically, Dr. Morris and Dr. Vardeman have been instrumental in sustaining this strong collaboration. As chair of IMSE, I am committed to strengthening this collaboration even further.”

Teams of Iowa State students also were among top-10 at this competition in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2014, the Iowa State team won first place, which was the first time that a team from the United States took the top spot.

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