The tag line for Kaggle is “We’re making data science a sport.” They have successfully created a way to turn data science into a competition. It is both fun, and it yields excellent results. There is also a portion of the site dedicated for classroom use. It is called Kaggle in Class.
Here is how it works. A company that needs some data analyzed can contact Kaggle and host a competition. Then data scientists all over the world can compete to find the best solution. The company benefits from having many algorithms and techniques applied to the same data set. Many more algorithms are applied than what the company could run without Kaggle. The contestants benefit from networking, pre-cleaned data, and learning from others. It is a win/win situation. Plus, the winner gets prize money.
Currently, the large featured competition is the Heritage Health Prize. It is a $3,000,000 competition to identify individuals that will be admitted to the hospital in the next year. The contest lasts until April 2013.
This is definitely a site I want to be involved with in the future. I just wish they could make it a spectator sport as well.