Two brothers win first AIB €4,000 big data prize

20 Nov 2014

AIB Datathon winners and brothers Sam and Jeremy Bowles with Bernard Byrne, director of personal, business and corporate banking, AIB, and Seamus Murphy, chief data officer, AIB

Brothers Sam and Jeremy Bowles, who are studying computer science and commerce at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and University College Dublin (UCD) respectively, have won the first ever AIB Datathon, scooping up a prize worth €4,000.

Students from all over Ireland came to AIB Bankcentre in Ballsbridge, Dublin, to take part in the AIB Datahon, a full day of working on a dataset to build a predictive model.

On the day, students were asked to create a movie recommendation model based on 100,000 movie ratings from 1,000 users.

The challenge was to build a movie recommendation system that would deploy similar techniques to streaming service Netflix or e-commerce giant Amazon, such as ‘You may also like’. Participants were free to approach the problem in whatever way they chose.

Teams came from DIT, UCD, Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, Blanchardstown Institute of Technology, Cork Institute of Technology and Letterkenny Institute of Technology.

It was the first time the Bowles brothers had competed in this type of competition. Jeremy said he had a module on this last year and he really enjoyed it.

“The Datathon has really showed me that it is possible to pursue a career in this field,” Jeremy added. 

The two runner-up teams, Kamil Orłowski and Matthew O’Neill from DIT who came second, and Silvia Planella and Marcin Dziduch from Cork Institute of Technology who came third, each won tech equipment worth €1,000.

Quality insights

“We were really impressed by the quality of the teams competing,” said Seamus Murphy, chief data officer at AIB.

“We hosted the Datathon to give Irish graduates an insight into our work at AIB and showcase how we use to data to best understand what the customer needs and thus provide the best possible service.

“The function of the data team at AIB has changed a lot in the last two years. We have hired people from a variety of academic backgrounds, from computer science and astrophysics, and have broadened the scope of work across the bank.

“We would hope to see many of the great competitors we saw today applying for our 2015 graduate programme,” Murphy added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years