UT computer science students wins Midwest Trading Competition

Stephanie Adeline

Out of 35 schools across the nation, UT’s Undergraduate Computational Finance Team, or Texas UCF, won first place at the Midwest Trading Competition, the nation’s premier algorithmic trading competition.

The competition, held at the University of Chicago in early April, required students to create and test trading algorithms in real market conditions. The team, consisting of computer science juniors Rahul Gupta, Vishal Vusirikala and Sam Bosak-Barani, was named the winner for their pairs-trading algorithm at the end of the competition April 8. 

Despite the challenges faced by the team, Vusirikala said the competition was a good way to learn more about trading algorithms, which is a program that does automated trading.

“It was a surprise to win, mainly because the platform itself had some challenges to work through,” Vusirikala said. “But it was a good learning experience, and I feel like I learned a lot about market making and the life that traders live in general when I visited Chicago.”

Bosak-Barani said the Midwest Trading Competition was different from other coding competitions because the work was not done at the competition and the team spent most of the time preparing the algorithm.

“(In other competitions), you see a lot of hack-a-thons where they do all the work on the spot,” Bosak-Barani said. “For this competition, we did pretty much all the work beforehand so we just ended up flying to Chicago to see how our algorithms do. There was a lot more buildup to it.”

Although the team was not the winner for any of the individual rounds, Bosak-Barani said they won because of their consistency.

“We didn’t win any individual rounds … but they awarded a bonus for consistency in your earnings,” Bosak-Barani said. “That bonus, I think, gave us enough points to go first.”

Gupta, who is interested in pursuing a career in trading, said the team’s algorithm won because of its ability to react to different market circumstances.

“Our algorithm had more adaptive capabilities that allowed it to dynamically react and change depending on market conditions,” Gupta said. “I think this gave us an edge over other teams.”

Gupta said Texas UCF is unique because it focuses on finding patterns and trends in markets, instead of a strictly qualitative view. The group also won first place at a trading competition at MIT last fall and are planning to participate in more trading competitions.