The Frontier Prize is awarded to the most visionary contribution. The prize consists of a plaque and a cheque for 1000 euros (sponsored by KNIME).

The Frontier prize paper must present novel and surprising approaches to data analysis. The winner is selected by the Frontier Prize Chairs based on the contributions in the paper and the presentation of the work during the symposium.


Previous winners

Frontier Prize 2014 (sponsored by KNIME)knime

The winner of the IDA 2014 Frontier Prize was Indirect estimation of shortest path distributions with small-world experiments by Antti Ukkonen.

Abstract: The distribution of shortest path lenghts is a useful characterisation of the connectivity in a network. The small-world experiment is a classical way to study the shortest path distribution in real-world social networks that cannot be directly observed. However, the data observed in these experiments are distorted by two factors: attrition and routing (in)efficiency. This leads to inaccuracies in the estimates of shortest path lenghts. In this paper we propose a model to analyse small-world experiments that corrects for both of the aforementioned sources of bias. Under suitable circumstances the model gives accurate estimates of the true underlying shortest path distribution without directly observing the network. It can also quantify the routing efficiency of the underlying population. We study the model by using simulations, and apply it to real data from previous small-world experiments.

Justification: Antti Ukkonen’s paper focusses on the use of small world experiments to estimate shortest path lengths on a “small” historical dataset. However, the methods explored have the potential to make considerable impact in a number of real world applications (from communication networks to computational biology), a clear focus of the frontier prize.

Arno Siebes and Allan Tucker (Frontier Prize Chairs, IDA 2014)


Frontier Prize 2013 (sponsored by KNIME)knime

The winner of the IDA 2013 Frontier Prize was On the Importance of Nonlinear Modeling in Computer Performance Prediction by Joshua Garland and Elizabeth Bradley.

frontier_prize-2013Abstract: Computers are nonlinear dynamical systems that exhibit complex and sometimes even chaotic behavior. The low-level performance models used in the computer systems community, however, are linear. This paper is an exploration of that disconnect: when linear models are adequate for predicting computer performance and when they are not. Specifically, we build linear and nonlinear models of the processor load of an Intel i7-based computer as it executes a range of different programs. We then use those models to predict the processor loads forward in time and compare those forecasts to the true continuations of the time series.

Justification: The paper and the poster presentation by Joshua Garland and Elizabeth Bradley present the most surprising results through non-linear dynamical modeling of computer performance. It demonstrates that non-linear models are superior to the standard approach to predict computer performance based on linear models. In addition, the poster presentation illustrated that a computer crash can actually change the dynamics of the computer. These intriguing results have a high potential to help improving computer performance by better balancing the workload for multi-core processors.

Jaakko Hollmén and Frank Klawonn (Frontier Prize Chairs, IDA 2013)


Frontier Prize 2012 (sponsored by KNIME)

The winner of the IDA Frontier Prize 2012 was Sleep Musicalization: Automatic Music Composition from Sleep Measurements by Aurora Tulilaulu, Joonas Paalasmaa, Mikko Waris, and Hannu Toivonen.

frontier_prize-2012Abstract: We introduce data musicalization as a novel approach to aid analysis and understanding of sleep measurement data. Data musicalization is the process of automatically composing novel music, with given data used to guide the process. We present Sleep Musicalization, a methodology that reads a signal from state-of-the-art mattress sensor, uses highly non-trivial data analysis methods to measure sleep from the signal, and then composes music from the measurements. As a result, Sleep Musicalization produces music that reflects the user’s sleep during a night and complements visualizations of sleep measurements. The ultimate goal is to help users improve their sleep and well-being. For practical use and later evaluation of the methodology, we have built a public web service at for users of the sleep sensors.

Justification: The paper by Tulilaulu, Paalasmaa, Waris, and Toivonen was the most surprising paper in this year’s meeting. It epitomizes the goals of the IDA Frontier Prize by presenting creative preliminary work on a unusual and innovative application. Representing data in the form of music has potential for a lot of interesting future research.

Liz Bradley & Joao Gama (Frontier Prize Chairs, IDA 2012)


Frontier Prize 2011 (sponsored by Ericsson)ericsson

The winner of the IDA Frontier Prize 2011 was Integrating Marine Species Biomass Data by Modelling Functional Knowledge by Allan Tucker and Daniel Duplisea.

frontier_prize-2011Abstract: Ecosystems and their underlying foodwebs are complex. There are many potential functions that play key roles in the delicate balance of these systems. In this paper, we explore methods for identifying species that exhibit similar functional relationships between them using fish survey data from oceans in three different geographical regions. We exploit these functionally equivalent species to integrate the datasets into a single functional model and show that the quality of prediction is improved and the identified species make ecological sense. Of course, the approach is not only limited to fish survey data. In fact, it can be applied to any domain where multiple studies are recorded of comparable systems that can exhibit similar functional relationships.

Justification: The paper by Allan Tucker and Daniel Duplisea on integration of marine species data perfectly fits the scope of the IDA Frontier Award — it presented emerging work on integration of data from different domains (here oceans) – an important direction of future data analysis – combined with sophisticated data analysis techniques.

Niall Adams & Michael Berthold (Frontier Prize Chairs, IDA 2011)