M5 Forecasting Competition: Last Chance to Sign Up

The premier academic forecasting competition currently features over 38,000 registered participants competing for $100,000 in prizes. Google, Walmart, Kaggle, Uber, IIF, MOFC, INSEAD and NTUA are providing financial or academic support.

The M5, the fifth expanded iteration of the highly regarded Makridakis (or M) Competitions that have run since the 1980s, launched this year in partnership with Google, Walmart and Kaggle. The competition is in its last stretch and welcomes final submissions from teams globally (academic, corporate or individual). This is the last chance to join one of the most popular forecasting competitions of all time, in which over 38,000 registered participants from across the globe are currently competing to identify the most accurate, statistical or machine-learning (or hybrid) method(s) for different types of situations requiring predictions and uncertainty estimates. The deadline for submissions is 30 June 2020.

The M5 is taking place under the scientific direction of the Makridakis Open Forecasting Center (MOFC) of the University of Nicosia (UNIC), with the support of invaluable returning academic co-organizers: The Forecasting & Strategy Unit at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), and the Centre for Decision Making and Risk Analysis at INSEAD. Moreover, there are substantial monetary prizes, totaling $100,000, with Google, Walmart, and Uber, as well as the International Institute of Forecasters (IIF), financially backing this year’s competition.

Armed with the support of the initiative’s new global partners, the M5 has gone much further than the previous M Competitions, introducing several well-received innovations:

  • In the first instance, this latest edition launched two parallel tracks, on “Forecasting Accuracy” and (for the first time explicitly) on “Forecasting Uncertainty”, offering participants the opportunity to enter one or both and be judged across tailored evaluation metrics.
  • Coupled with this, the M5 includes explanatory and exogenous variables to improve forecasting accuracy and the estimation of uncertainty, as well as consider data that display intermittency, i.e. sporadic, inventory sales including zeros.
  • Equally important, the competitions are based on hierarchical, daily, real data made generously available by the multinational retail corporation Walmart, while hosted on Kaggle, the world’s largest data science community platform.

The excitement and interest around the current M Competition, among both the Forecasting community and its major proponents, was evident from the onset. Given the standing of M Competitions in the Forecasting community, as well as the significant contributions these have delivered throughout the years, fundamentally changing the field, it is unsurprising that the current competition is among the largest of its kind. Addison Howard, Business Development Manager at Kaggle, enthusiastically confirmed as much, while underscoring the platform’s central role in the competition: “We are excited to be the official home of this year’s Makridakis Competition. As anticipated, we’ve had a massive turnout from the Kaggle community, with the Accuracy Challenge on track to be the fourth most popular competition of all time based on the number of participating teams”.

Commenting on the evolution of the M Competitions, which bear his name, Professor Makridakis remarked: “The M5 is unquestionably the biggest, most ambitious, and most influential of all M Forecasting Competitions, opening up new avenues for academic research and identifying high-caliber methods in the process. I have no doubt it will compellingly guide the practice of Forecasting with its findings and recommendations”. The MOFC Director reiterated the pivotal role of this year’s partners: “These inroads are made possible by our exceptional global partners, whom I thank for their trust and support in the M5. The M Competitions, which I started almost 40 years ago, are truly reaching the pinnacle of their service to Forecasting with Google, Walmart, Kaggle, Uber, and IIF in our corner”.

For more information and to register for the M5 Forecasting Competition, please contact the Makridakis Open Forecasting Center at [email protected] or visit mofc.unic.ac.cy/m5-competition/.

About MOFC

The Makridakis Open Forecasting Center (MOFC) of the University of Nicosia, founded by Professor Spyros Makridakis, is one of the leading academic forecasting centers in the world. More specifically, MOFC conducts cutting-edge research on Forecasting, assisting organizations make accurate predictions, estimate levels of uncertainty, and manage risk through training, research, technology development, and consulting. Ultimately, MOFC aims to expand the utilization and value of Forecasting among business firms. The Center also collaborates with and supports the pioneering Data Science Programmes (BSc and MSc) offered at the University of Nicosia, to provide students with the requisite forecasting tools and applications, as well as the opportunity to participate in and data from the M Competitions, markedly enhancing the practical side of their studies.

About M Competitions

The Makridakis (or M) Forecasting Competitions are the brainchild of Professor Spyros Makridakis, a pioneer in the field and one of the foundational figures of Forecasting. The revolutionary initiative began almost four decades ago, with M Competitions taking place in 1982, 1993, 2000 and 2018. The first three M Competitions were hosted at INSEAD, while the M4 was organized by the Institute For the Future (IFF) of the University of Nicosia, with the support of the Forecasting & Strategy Unit at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). M Competitions have substantially contributed to improving forecasting accuracy and the estimation of uncertainty, as well as informing practitioners on the most appropriate forecasting method to use for their specific needs.