On Wednesday 22nd February the Manchester SIAM-IMA Student Chapter and School of Mathematics hosted an industry problem solving event, with industry guest Dr. Peter Appleby, a data scientist at Auto Trader.
Auto Trader is a fully digital, FTSE 250 listed company which lists new and second hand cars. Auto Trader’s website has over 48 million monthly visits, and each visit may include dozens of searches. This gives them a wealth of data on how people go about choosing a car, and understanding the interconnections in this data is extremely valuable. Mathematics provides the tools to make sense of these vast quantities of data.
During the afternoon which was attended by both undergraduate and postgraduate students, Peter gave a talk outlining how these data management problems arise, and some of the tools Auto Trader use to solve them. He then highlighted two particular problems, one involving clustering of the data, and another on regression analysis. After the introduction, we moved to a computer cluster and worked in groups on solving these problems. Participants with no programming experience contributed by teaming up with more experienced students.
The afternoon concluded with a discussion session where different groups reported on what they had achieved, and issues that they had come across.
The event is a follow-up from a series of Industry Challenges initiated by Dr. Stefan Güttel in 2015 in collaboration with Sabisu. The event was a great success and gave undergraduates and postgraduates alike a chance to see how maths is used in industry. The chapter would like to all participants and we hope to organize similar events in the future.