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|Industry|| Information Technology Staffing |
Topcoder (formerly TopCoder) is a crowdsourcing company with an open global community of designers, developers, data scientists, and competitive programmers. Topcoder pays community members for their work on the projects and sells community services to corporate, mid-size, and small-business clients.Topcoder also organizes the annual Topcoder Open tournament and a series of smaller regional events.
Topcoder was founded in 2001 by Jack Hughes, Chairman and Founder of the Tallan company.The name was formerly spelt as "TopCoder" until 2013. Topcoder ran regular competitive programming challenges, known as Single Round Matches or "SRMs," where each SRM was a timed 1.5-hour algorithm competition and contestants would compete against each other to solve the same set of problems. The contestants were students from different secondary schools or universities. Cash prizes ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per match were secured from corporate sponsors and awarded to tournament winners to generate interest from the student community.
As the community of designers, developers, data scientists, and competitive programmers involved in Topcoder grew, the company started to offer software development services to 3rd party clients, contracting individual community members to work on specific tasks. Most of the revenue, though, still came from consulting services provided to clients by Topcoder employees.From 2006 onwards, Topcoder held design competitions, thus offering design services to their clients. In 2006 Topcoder also started to organize Marathon Matches (MM) – one week long algorithmic contests.
In an attempt to optimize expenses, Topcoder introduced new competition tracks in 2007-2008 and delegated more work from its employees to the community. By 2009, the size of Topcoder's staff had been reduced to 16 project managers servicing 35 clients, while the community did most of the actual work via crowdsourcing. Topcoder representatives claim that at this point their community had about 170k registered members, and the company's annual revenue was approximately $19 million.
In 2013, Topcoder was acquired by Appirio, and the Topcoder community (of around 500 thousand at the time), was merged, under the Topcoder brand, with the 75k member crowdsourcing community Cloudspokes, created and managed by Appirio.
In 2016, Topcoder, along with Appirio, was acquired by Wipro as a part of a $500 million deal and continued to operate as a separate company under its brand.
Since the end of 2017, Topcoder has continued to offer its enterprise clients the Hybrid Crowd platform, as a way to protect intellectual property in crowdsourcing projects. In addition to the public Topcoder community, the Hybrid Crowd platform allows for the creation of certified and private crowdsourcing communities. Its certified communities include members of public Topcoder communities who are vetted for a customer's specific requirements, such as signing an additional NDA, completing a background check, or meeting any other particular certifications. The private communities may include an enterprise's employees and contractors. As the first user of Hybrid Crowd, Wipro integrated its internal (employee-only) crowdsourcing platform TopGear with Topcoder.
|Date||Num. registered members|
|2002||10 000 – 20 000|
|2008||~160 000 – 170 000|
|2013||~500 000 – 600 000|
|2016||~1 000 000|
|2018||~1 200 000|
Topcoder community is the primary source of the workforce behind all Topcoder projects. It is open and global: anybody, with a few legal restrictions dictated by US laws, and listed in Community Terms, can join and compete, without any financial commitment to Topcoder. Also, participation in challenges organized in the interests of commercial clients generally requires the community member to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Intellectual property for the winning submissions to commercial challenges is passed to the client, in exchange for monetary prizes paid to the winners.
While the majority of community members participate in Topcoder challenges as regular competitors, those who become recognized for their performance, and involvement in community life (via communication in Topcoder forums, attending Topcoder events, etc.), are offered additional roles in the community, which include: copilots (technical coordinators of challenges), problem writers, reviewers, etc.Since the end of 2014 till the end of 2017, a Community Advisory Board (CAB) was selected from active community members for a one-year term to help improve communications between Topcoder company and its community. In 2018 the CAB was replaced by the Topcoder MVP (Most Valuable Player) program.
There are four primary segments of each Topcoder community, open to every member: Design, Development, Data Science, and Competitive Programming.Also, since the end of 2017, Topcoder, as a part of their Hybrid Crowd offering, creates sub-communities dedicated to specific clients/projects. The sub-communities may require members to meet additional eligibility criteria before joining.
Topcoder design community is focused on:
Two particular types of Topcoder design challenges are LUX (Live User Experience, 24 – 48 hours long) and RUX (Rapid User Experience, three days long). In both cases, more substantial prizes compared to regular design challenges with the similar goals, are offered in exchange for the shorter timeline. Short timelines allow Topcoder managers to demonstrate to customers how crowdsourcing works on real cases, during live, and few-days meetings with the clients.
Software development segment of Topcoder community is focused on:
There are several types of data science challenges at Topcoder; typically, they are longer than software development challenges and focused on data science and algorithms, rather than on end-user software products:
The Competitive Programming track of Topcoder community rotates around Single Round Matches (SRMs) – timed 1.5-hour competitions in which all participants compete online trying to solve the same set of problems as fast as possible. These were the first type of challenges at Topcoder.
The following table includes the list of Topcoder sub-communities dedicated to specific technologies and/or clients (within their Hybrid Crowd offering). See TopCoder § Notable Clients and Projects section for further information on these sub-communities.
|Blockchain Community||ConsenSys||public||Blockchain technology projects, with focus on Ethereum platform|
|Cognitive Community||IBM||public||Cognitive computing, with a particular focus on IBM Watson services.|
|Veterans Community||Operation Code||Only for US military veterans||Educational and paid software development projects for US military veterans.|
Topcoder Open (TCO) is an annual design, software development, data science and competitive programming championship, organized by Topcoder, and hosted in different venues around the US. Each year, the most successful participants of each competition track included into TCO are selected and invited for a free one-week trip to on-site finals, where they compete for prizes, and also socialize with each other, helping to build community spirit among the most active members. In the first two years, 2001 and 2002, the tournament was titled TopCoder Invitational.
In addition to the main championship, from 2001 to 2007 Topcoder organized an annual TopCoder Collegiate Challenge tournament, for college students only. Also from 2007 to 2010, a TopCoder High School competition was held.
Since 2015, Topcoder Regional events have been held through the year in different countries.
In 2017, Topcoder entered into a partnership with ConsenSys, an incubator of Ethereum projects, to promote the Topcoder Blockchain Community, and provide ConsenSys with design and development support for their blockchain projects.
It was reported in 2008 that Eli Lilly and Co. would use Topcoder platform to crowdsource development of IT applications for its global drug discovery operations.
In 2013, it was reported that researchers from Harvard Medical School, Harvard Business School, and London Business School successfully used Topcoder Community to solve complex biological problems.Researchers say that Topcoder competitors approached the biology-related big-data challenge, and managed to create a more accurate and 1000 times faster alternative of BLAST algorithm.
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity organization collaborates with Topcoder to create innovative algorithms for intelligence applications. From July 2017 to February 2018 it ran the Functional Map of the World challenge to develop deep learning algorithms capable of scanning and identifying in satellite imagery different classes of objects, such as airports, schools, oil wells, shipyards, or ports .In the ongoing Mercury challenge it aims to create AI methods for automated prediction of critical events, involving military action, non-violent civil unrest, and infectious diseases in Middle East.
Since 2016 IBM has been collaborating with Topcoder to promote their cloud platform, IBM Cloud, and IBM Watson services, in particular.Within this partnership, Topcoder has created a dedicated Cognitive sub-community and run numerous educational and customer-oriented challenges.
In 2010, NASA asked the Topcoder community to optimize the contents of medical kits for future human space exploration missions.
In 2013, NASA Tournament Lab cooperated with Topcoder to run data-science challenges targeting to improve computer vision algorithms for their Robonaut 2 humanoid robot;in another challenge, Topcoder members were asked to develop algorithms for optimization of ISS solar arrays usage. Also in 2013 Topcoder helped NASA to develop a software solution for tracking food consumption by astronauts.
In another challenge, Topcoder community helped NASA and National Geographic's explorer Albert Lin to develop an algorithm to identify human-built structures in Genghis Khan's homeland.
In 2014, Asteroid Data Hunter, Asteroid Tracker, and many other challenges were carried on to develop better algorithms for asteroids detection in space images.
In 2015, the Topcoder Data Science community was challenged by NASA, Quakefinder, Harvard Crowd Innovation Lab, and Amazon Web Services, to come up with an algorithm that finds correlations between ultra-low frequency electromagnetic signals emanating from the earth, and subsequent moderate and large earthquakes.
In 2017, NASA, HeroX, and Topcoder announced a challenge to optimize their computational-intensive software solution for fluid dynamics, FUN3D,which was cancelled later due to a high number of applicants (more than 1,800) during the registration, coupled with concerns about control over the public distribution of the software to optimize.
In 2018, a data science challenge is running currently to develop better algorithms for tracking of RFID-tagged items within the International Space Station.
At the end of 2017 Topcoder, together with Operation Code non-profit charity, announced the launch of Topcoder Veterans Community, that will focus on helping US military veterans to make their way into tech careers in software development via education programs and paid crowdsourcing challenges.
A supercomputer is a computer with a high level of performance as compared to a general-purpose computer. The performance of a supercomputer is commonly measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS). Since 2017, there are supercomputers which can perform over 1017 FLOPS (a hundred quadrillion FLOPS, 100 petaFLOPS or 100 PFLOPS). Since November 2017, all of the world's fastest 500 supercomputers run Linux-based operating systems. Additional research is being conducted in the United States, the European Union, Taiwan, Japan, and China to build faster, more powerful and technologically superior exascale supercomputers.
HCL Notes and HCL Domino are the client and server, respectively, of a collaborative client-server software platform formerly sold by IBM, now by HCL Technologies.
RapidMiner is a data science software platform developed by the company of the same name that provides an integrated environment for data preparation, machine learning, deep learning, text mining, and predictive analytics. It is used for business and commercial applications as well as for research, education, training, rapid prototyping, and application development and supports all steps of the machine learning process including data preparation, results visualization, model validation and optimization. RapidMiner is developed on an open core model.
Crowdsourcing is a sourcing model in which individuals or organizations obtain goods and services, including ideas, voting, micro-tasks and finances, from a large, relatively open and often rapidly evolving group of participants. Currently, crowdsourcing typically involves using the internet to attract and divide work between participants to achieve a cumulative result. The word crowdsourcing itself is a portmanteau of crowd and outsourcing, and was coined in 2006. Crowdsourcing is not necessarily an "online" activity and existed before Internet access became a household commodity.
Wipro Limited is an Indian multinational corporation that provides information technology, consulting and business process services. It is headquartered in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. In 2013, Wipro separated its non-IT businesses and formed the privately owned Wipro Enterprises.
Karim R. Lakhani is a leading technology management and innovation expert and is the Charles E. Wilson Professor of Business Administration and the Dorothy and Michael Hintze Fellow at the Harvard Business School. The founder and co-director of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard, he is best known for his pioneering scholarship on Open Source Software and Crowdsourcing innovation models, and digital transformation of companies and industries. In particular, he is known for his research on the T-shirt company Threadless, and prize-based open innovation firms like InnoCentive and Topcoder.
OpenStack is a free open standard cloud computing platform, mostly deployed as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) in both public and private clouds where virtual servers and other resources are made available to users. The software platform consists of interrelated components that control diverse, multi-vendor hardware pools of processing, storage, and networking resources throughout a data center. Users either manage it through a web-based dashboard, through command-line tools, or through RESTful web services.
Appirio, a Wipro company, is an information technology consulting company headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana that offers technology and professional services to companies wishing to adopt public cloud applications. This includes Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service technologies like Salesforce.com, and Google Apps.
Kaggle, a subsidiary of Google LLC, is an online community of data scientists and machine learning practitioners. Kaggle allows users to find and publish data sets, explore and build models in a web-based data-science environment, work with other data scientists and machine learning engineers, and enter competitions to solve data science challenges.
MQTT is an open OASIS and ISO standard lightweight, publish-subscribe network protocol that transports messages between devices. The protocol usually runs over TCP/IP; however, any network protocol that provides ordered, lossless, bi-directional connections can support MQTT. It is designed for connections with remote locations where a "small code footprint" is required or the network bandwidth is limited.
Petr Mitrichev is a Russian competitive programmer who has won multiple major international competitions. His accomplishments include gold and silver (2001) medals in the IOI, gold medals in the ACM ICPC World Finals as part of the team of Moscow State University and winning Google Code Jam (2006), the Topcoder Open, the Topcoder Collegiate Challenge, Facebook Hacker Cup as well as numerous national and online contests. He has achieved the highest rating ever among the Algorithm competitors of Topcoder and consistently ranks in the top two of the world. He is the highest rated Algorithm coder on Topcoder ratings as of April 6, 2015. He currently works at Google on the search engine and helps to prepare Code Jam.
Competitive programming is a mind sport usually held over the Internet or a local network, involving participants trying to program according to provided specifications. Contestants are referred to as sport programmers. Competitive programming is recognized and supported by several multinational software and Internet companies, such as Google and Facebook. There are several organizations who host programming competitions on a regular basis.
Crowdsourcing software development or software crowdsourcing is an emerging area of software engineering. It is an open call for participation in any task of software development, including documentation, design, coding and testing. These tasks are normally conducted by either members of a software enterprise or people contracted by the enterprise. But in software crowdsourcing, all the tasks can be assigned to or are addressed by members of the general public. Individuals and teams may also participate in crowdsourcing contests.
Gennady Korotkevich is a Belarusian competitive programmer who has won major international competitions since the age of 11, as well as numerous national competitions. His top accomplishments include six consecutive gold medals in the International Olympiad in Informatics as well as the world championship in the 2013 and 2015 International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals. As of December 2018, Gennady is the highest-rated programmer at CodeChef, Topcoder, AtCoder and HackerRank.
NASA International Space Apps Challenge is annual NASA's global hackathon, first held in April 2012, and serves as innovation incubation and civic engagement program. NASA and its partners put out challenges relating to current work for which space enthusiasts around the world of all backgrounds can develop innovative solutions, particularly focusing on use of NASA data and promoting education. The project, formerly run by NASA's Office of the Chief Information Officer, is part of NASA's Earth Science Mission Directorate and is a part of the Open Government Initiative founded under President Barack Obama "creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government." It also fulfills the United States’ commitments to the Open Government Partnership.
Joy Adowaa Buolamwini is a Ghanaian-American computer scientist and digital activist based at the MIT Media Lab. She founded the Algorithmic Justice League, an organisation that looks to challenge bias in decision making software.
This glossary of computer science is a list of definitions of terms and concepts used in computer science, its sub-disciplines, and related fields, including terms relevant to software, data science, and .
Topcoder Open (TCO) is an annual design, software development, data science and competitive programming championship, organized by Topcoder, and hosted in different venues around US. In the first two years, 2001 and 2002, the tournament was titled TopCoder Invitational.
Automated Artificial Intelligence (AutoAI) is a variation of the automated machine learning, or AutoML, technology, which extends the automation of model building towards automation of the full life cycle of a machine learning model. It applies intelligent automation to the task of building predictive machine learning models by preparing data for training, identifying the best type of model for the given data, then choosing the features, or columns of data, that best support the problem the model is solving. Finally, automation tests a variety of tuning options to reach the best result as it generates, then ranks, model-candidate pipelines. The best performing pipelines can be put into production to process new data, and deliver predictions based on the model training. Automated artificial intelligence can also be applied to making sure the model does not have inherent bias and automating the tasks for continuous improvement of the model.