We’ve started a new blog series called “Our Favorite Apps.” Every now and again, we’ll showcase an awesome app backed by Kinvey. You can see our first post here. This week, we’re highlighting an app called Evolution Prize.
Why We Love Evolution Prize
• It was created to solve a data mining problem in the health care industry
• One user will be awarded $1 million for creating a winning solution in the app
• Users can run the app while they’re asleep to generate solutions
The inspiration for Evolution Prize was a competition on Kaggle, a platform for predictive modeling competitions. The Heritage Provider Network Health Prize (HPNHP) is offering a cool $3 million to the creator of an algorithm that accurately predicts how many days a patient will spend in a hospital next year. This two-year competition hopes to increase patients’ health and reduce care costs by better planning.
Tony Travers, an indie developer from Melbourne, developed a crowdsourcing app to submit to the HPNHP contest. In the app, users become problem solvers by predicting hospital stays. The app is a form of genetic programming that mimics how researchers believe evolution works.
About 200 basic formulas are used to begin to find a solution. Formulas could be as simple as “x-1.” For example, “x” is the number of a patient’s hospital stays last year. And, “-1” indicates that a patient is getting healthier and having one less hospital stay.
Users run the app overnight and it automatically compares the formulas to the test data (supplied by the HPNHP) to determine how accurate each formula is at predicting hospital stays. After all the formulas are evaluated, the best are selected and used to create the next population of formulas. This process continues and each generation of formulas gets more accurate. Eventually a generation seems to stabilize, indicating that no better version is found. That generation becomes one of Tony’s entries into the competition. Then, the process starts again and hopefully creates an even better solution.
Tony says if he wins the HPNHP competition, he’ll award $1 million to the person that generates the best solution using his app. In addition, he plans to give 10% of app sales to the person with the best solution (regardless if Tony wins the competition). When naming the app he wanted to convey the reward for running the app, hence the name “Evolution Prize.”
Tony felt the backend was the most “daunting” part of building an app since he’s a solo developer. Tony needed to store lots of small bits of key-paired data that could be shared by everyone. He tried several different solutions, but the API call costs scaled badly. “I was really pleased to see how easy it was integrate Kinvey into my app,” Tony said.
You can compete for Tony’s prizes until April 2013, when the HPNHP competition concludes.