Genetic engineering is a powerful tool that demands responsible use. Your goal is to create an algorithm that identifies the lab-of-origin for genetically engineered DNA with the highest accuracy level possible.
We were blown away by the results of this competition, and are really excited to see how the attribution field continues to develop from here.
— Will Bradshaw, Competition Director at altLabs
Synthetic biology offers fantastic benefits for society, but its anonymity opens the door for reckless or malicious actors to cause serious harm. Currently, there is no easy way of tracing genetically engineered DNA back to its lab-of-origin. This task is known as attribution, and it's a pivotal part of ensuring that genetic engineering progresses responsibly.
When manipulating DNA, a designer has many decisions she must make, such as promoter choice and cloning method. These choices leave clues in the genetic material, and together, compose a "genetic fingerprint" that can be traced back to the designer.
The goal of the Genetic Engineering Attribution Challenge was to develop tools that help human decision makers identify the lab-of-origin from genetically engineered DNA. This competition was composed of two tracks. In the Prediction Track, participants competed to attribute DNA samples to its lab-of-origin with the highest possible accuracy. In the Innovation Track, competitors that beat the BLAST benchmark were invited to submit reports demonstrating how their lab-of-origin prediction models excel in domains beyond raw accuracy.
When attributing DNA to its source, simply narrowing the field of possible labs would be a boon to human decision makers. This is why top-10 accuracy was chosen as the competition metric. The top model was able to achieve over 95% top-10 accuracy with 1,314 possible labs present in the dataset, compared with the pre-existing BLAST baseline of 76.9%. Moreover, three of the top four submissions were able to to achieve more than 80% top-1 accuracy.
Solutions were also tested against an out-of-sample verification set from data that was collected after the competition concluded. The verification data included both "previously seen" labs included in the competition dataset and "unseen" labs (predictions for "unseen" labs are considered correct if labeled "unknown"). On the previously seen dataset, top models were able to score an impressive top-10 accuracy of 78 - 85%, substantially exceeding the baseline performance of 59.5%.
To further promote the development and use of attribution technology in the future, all code from winning submissions will be made open-source, and altLabs has reached out to winning teams to discuss their plans for publication of their results.
Genetic Engineering Attribution Challenge: Rules and Terms of Data Use
DrivenData Competition Rules
One account per participant
You cannot sign up to DrivenData from multiple accounts and therefore you cannot submit from multiple accounts.
Private sharing of code
Privately sharing code or data outside of teams is not permitted.
Winner license/assignment type: Assignment to Competition Sponsor
Winning solutions must be assigned to the Competition Sponsor in order to be eligible for recognition and prize money if offered. Public sharing of code or IP is prohibited in order to be eligible for a prize.
Documentation for winning solutions
Winning solutions must be documented using the provided Winning Model Documentation Template in order to be eligible for recognition and prize money if offered.
The number of submissions per day is restricted to a fixed value on a per-competition basis. Any attempt to circumvent this limit will result in disqualification.
External data is not allowed unless otherwise noted explicitly on these competition pages. Participants agree to make no attempt to use additional data or data sources not provided on these competition pages.
These are the complete, official rules (the "Competition Rules") for the competition (the "Competition") described on the website listed above or linking to these Competition Rules (the "Competition Website"). The Competition Rules incorporate by reference the contents of the Competition Website listed above.
By downloading a dataset linked from the Competition Website, submitting an entry to this Competition (a "Submission"), or joining a Team in this Competition, you are agreeing to be bound by these Competition Rules which constitute a binding agreement between you and DrivenData and, if applicable, any rules and restrictions that may be imposed by the third-party sponsor of this competition (the "Competition Sponsor").
The Competition is hosted by DrivenData, Inc ("DrivenData"). The Competition will run according to the dates listed on the Competition Website (the "Competition Period").
Each registered individual or Team is referred to as a Participant. You may only compete using a single, unique DrivenData account registered at http://www.drivendata.org. Competing using more than one DrivenData account per individual is a breach of these Competition Rules and DrivenData reserves the right to disqualify any individual (or Team including an individual) who is found to breach these Competition Rules.
The Competition is open to all natural persons over the age of 18 at the time of entry. Legal entities and organizations are not eligible for entry. There is no purchase or donation necessary to enter the Competition.
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If you meet the eligibility requirements and would like to participate, then you must first complete the registration process through the relevant competition pages on
After you register individually, you may join a group of other participants with which to collaborate (each group, a "Team"), only if expressly permitted by these rules below, but you may register only once. If you register for the Competition more than once, you will be, and the remainder of your Team may be, disqualified in DrivenData's sole discretion.
You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for abiding by your employer's policies regarding participation in the Competition. Sponsor disclaims any and all liability or responsibility for disputes arising between an employee and employer related to this Competition.
Once you have completed the registration process, you or your Team will be provided with access to the Data that you use to develop your Entries.
BY ENTERING THE COMPETITION YOU ACCEPT THE CONDITIONS STATED IN THESE OFFICIAL RULES INCLUDING THE RULES ON THE COMPETITION WEBSITE, AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THE DECISIONS OF THE JUDGES AND WARRANT THAT YOU ARE ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE COMPETITION. IF YOU DO NOT ACCEPT ALL OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES, THEN PLEASE DO NOT REGISTER FOR THE COMPETITION. WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU PRINT OUT A COPY OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES FOR YOUR FUTURE REFERENCE.
FORMING A TEAM. Multiple individuals or entities may collaborate as a Team. You may not participate on more than one Team. Each Team member must be a single individual operating a separate DrivenData account. You must register individually for the Competition before joining a Team. You must confirm your Team membership to make it official by responding to the Team notification message which will be sent to your Account.
TEAM PRIZES. If a Team wins a monetary Prize, DrivenData will allocate the Prize money in even shares between the Team members unless the Team unanimously contacts DrivenData within three business days following the Submission deadline to request an alternative prize distribution.
Each Entry must be uploaded to the Competition Website in the manner and format specified on the Competition Website. All Entries must be received during the Competition Period. An "Entry" is the data submitted in the manner and format specified on the Competition Website via the Entry form. The number of Entries a Participant may submit during each calendar day of the Competition Period will be displayed on the Competition Website. If the Competition is a multi-stage Competition with temporally separate training data and/or leaderboard data, one or more valid Entries must be submitted and selected during each stage of the Competition in the manner described on the Competition Website.
USER SUBMISSIONS MUST IN THEIR ENTIRETY COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL, AND INTERNATIONAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS. WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, IN ORDER TO BE ELIGIBLE, YOU WARRANT THAT (UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED IN THE PROBLEM STATEMENT) YOUR SUBMISSION FOR THIS COMPETITION:
- Does not include or anticipate the inclusion of any content that is in violation of or infringes third party intellectual property rights including, but not limited to copyrights, including music copyrights, patents, trade secrets, trademarks, and rights of publicity or privacy.
- Is free and clear of all liens, claims, encumbrances or demands of any third parties.
- Does not include or anticipate the inclusion of any unsuitable or offensive content, including nudity, sexually explicit, disparaging, libelous or other inappropriate content.
- Has not been entered in previous challenges, or won previous awards.
- Has not been published or distributed previously in any media.
- Is suitable for a general audience.
- Does not contain any claims that are not and cannot be substantiated or that would be false and/or misleading to a reasonable consumer.
Selection of winners
This Competition is a challenge of skill and the final results are determined by evaluating a combination of quantitative and qualitative factors, as more fully described on the Competition Website. For that portion of the Competition evaluated quantitatively, the results will be determined solely by leaderboard ranking on the private leaderboard based on an objective statistical evaluation metric published on the Competition Website prior to commencement of the Competition (subject to compliance with these Competition Rules). Participants' scores and ranks on the Competition Website at any given stage of the Competition will be based on the objective statistical evaluation metric described on the Competition Website, as determined by applying the predictions in the Submission to the ground truth of a validation dataset whose instances were a fixed set sampled from the Data. For that portion of the Competition evaluated qualitatively, the results will be determined by a panel of judges, as more fully described on the Competition Website. As more fully described on the Competition Website, the Competition may have a quantitative winner, a qualitative winner, a combined quantitative and qualitative winner, or all three.
The evaluation metric used for scoring and ranking Submissions will be displayed on the Competition Website.
Any prize awards are subject to verification of eligibility and compliance with these Competition Rules. All decisions of DrivenData, the Competition Sponsor and/or judges will be final and binding on all matters relating to this Competition. DrivenData reserves the right to examine the Submission and any associated code or documentation for compliance with these Competition Rules. In the event that the Submission demonstrates a breach of these Competition Rules, Competition Sponsor or DrivenData may at its discretion take either of the following actions:
- disqualify your Submission(s); or
- require that you remediate within one week all issues identified in your Submission(s) (including, without limitation, the resolution of license conflicts, the fulfillment of all obligations required by software licenses, and the removal of any software that violates the software restrictions).
A tie between two or more valid and identically ranked submissions will be resolved in favor of the tied submission that was submitted first.
A Participant may decline to be nominated as a Winner by notifying DrivenData directly within one week following the Competition deadline, in which case the declining Participant forgoes any prize or other features associated with winning the Competition. DrivenData reserves the right to disqualify a Participant who so declines at DrivenData's sole discretion if DrivenData deems disqualification appropriate.
Prizes and conditions
If the Competition has a prize, the Prize Winner(s) will be notified and announced within 30 days of the end of the Competition on the Competition Website.
The Prize Winner(s) will receive their prizes awarded as a check or electronic transfer from DrivenData.
If a Team wins a prize, all Team members must submit a single written statement describing how the prize is to be allocated among the Team members. If the Team fails to submit such statement within 30 days after DrivenData requests it, then DrivenData will distribute the prize among Team members in equal shares and will have no further obligation to winning Team members.
As a condition of receipt of the prize, winner must deliver the algorithm's code and documentation to DrivenData. The source code must contain a description of resources required to build and run the algorithm. The accompanying documentation should be consistent with DrivenData's Winning Model Documentation Template, which will be provided to winners within 10 days of the end of the Competition Period.
The prize may be awarded to an alternate winner if required documentation is not returned within fifteen (15) days after mailing to winner, if prize notification letter/email or prize is returned as undeliverable, if winner does not respond to an email or other communication from DrivenData within ten (10) days of the date sent, or if the winner, in DrivenData’s judgment, does not respond to reasonable requests for information related to prize delivery or otherwise unable or unwilling to coordinate prize delivery within thirty (30) days after prize notification. Allow thirty (30) days for prize delivery. By accepting any prize/award, Winner agrees to allow DrivenData and/or the Competition Sponsor to disclose Winner’s first name, first initial of last name, and city of residence, as well as prize information to the extent required by law, and if so required by law, Winner agrees to the disclosure of additional personal information, all without additional compensation.
DrivenData is responsible only for prize delivery and is not responsible for prize utility or otherwise. No substitution or transfer of prizes is permitted. All taxes, fees and expenses associated with participation in the Competition or receipt and use of a prize are the sole responsibility of the Prize Winner(s).
PARTICIPANT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LICENSING/ASSIGNMENT. All Participants grant DrivenData, the Competition Sponsor and/or judges a limited, worldwide license to use each Participant’s Submission for the administration of the Competition.
As a further condition of receipt of a Prize, each winning Participant thereby licenses their winning Submission and the source code used to generate the Submission according to the Winner License/Assignment Type specified above (note: if no Winner License/Assignment Type is specified above, the Winner License/Assignment Type is deemed to be Non-Exclusive License).
NON-EXCLUSIVE LICENSE. If the Winner License/Assignment Type for the Competition (see Winner License/Assignment Type above) is a Non-Exclusive License then each Winner by accepting a Prize thereby:
- grants to Competition Sponsor and its designees a worldwide, non-exclusive, sub-licensable, transferable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to use, not use, reproduce, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform, publicly display, digitally perform, make, have made, sell, offer for sale and import their winning Submission and the source code used to generate the Submission, in any media now known or hereafter developed, for any purpose whatsoever, commercial or otherwise, without further approval by or payment to Participant; and
- represents that he/she/it has the unrestricted right to grant that license.
OPEN SOURCE LICENSE. If the Winner License/Assignment Type for the Competition (see Winner License/Assignment Type above) is Open Source License, then each Winner by accepting a Prize thereby:
- licenses their winning Submission and the source code used to generate the Submission under the MIT License (an open source software license commonly described at http://opensource.org/licenses/MIT); and
- represents that he/she/it has the unrestricted right to grant that license.
ASSIGNMENT TO COMPETITION SPONSOR. If the Winner License/Assignment Type for the Competition (see Winner License/Assignment Type above) is Assignment to Competition Sponsor, then each Winner by accepting a Prize thereby:
- grants all right, title, and interest in and to their winning Submission and the source code used to generate the Submission, and all intellectual property rights therein, to the Competition Sponsor or their designee;
- represents that he/she/it has the unrestricted right to make that assignment; and
- agrees to execute a stand-alone assignment document in the discretion of the Competition Sponsor or their designee to memorialize the same.
CHEATING. Participating using more than one DrivenData account is deemed cheating and, if discovered, will result in disqualification from the Competition and any other affected Competitions and may result in banning or deactivation of affected DrivenData accounts.
DrivenData reserves the right to request information associated with our investigation of suspected cheating. Failure to respond to these requests (including failure to furnish the requested information) within ten (10) days is grounds for disqualification.
RECEIVING PRIZES. After verification of eligibility, if prizes are awarded, each Prize winner will receive the prize in the form of a check or electronic transfer made out to the Prize winner (if an individual, or to the individual Team members if a Team). Allow 30 days from final confirmation for Prize delivery. Any winners who are U.S. citizens will receive an IRS 1099 form in the amount of their prize at the appropriate time. Prize winners are responsible for any taxes, fees or other liability resulting from their receipt of a Prize.
Except where prohibited by law, entry constitutes permission to use winners' names, hometowns and likenesses for online posting, and/or any advertising and publicity without additional compensation. Winners may also be required to sign and return a release of liability, declaration of eligibility and, where lawful, a publicity consent agreement, as conditions of receiving a prize. Failure to comply with the aforementioned conditions shall be grounds for forfeiture of a prize.
Data use and code sharing
DATA. "Data" means the Data or Datasets linked from the Competition Website for the purpose of use by Participants in the Competition. For the avoidance of doubt, Data is deemed for the purpose of these Competition Rules to include any prototype or executable code provided to Participants by DrivenData or via the Competition Website. Participants must use the Data only as permitted by these Competition Rules and any associated data use rules specified on the Competition Website.
Unless otherwise permitted by the terms of the Competition Website, Participants must use the Data solely for the purpose and duration of the Competition, including but not limited to reading and learning from the Data, analyzing the Data, modifying the Data and generally preparing your Submission and any underlying models and participating in forum discussions on the Competition Website. Participants agree to use suitable measures to prevent persons who have not formally agreed to these Competition Rules from gaining access to the Data and agree not to transmit, duplicate, publish, redistribute or otherwise provide or make available the Data to any party not participating in the Competition. Participants agree to notify DrivenData immediately upon learning of any possible unauthorized transmission or unauthorized access of the Data and agree to work with DrivenData to rectify any unauthorized transmission. Participants agree that participation in the Competition shall not be construed as having or being granted a license (expressly, by implication, estoppel, or otherwise) under, or any right of ownership in, any of the Data.
EXTERNAL DATA. Unless otherwise expressly stated on the Competition Website, Participants must not use data other than the Data to develop and test their models and Submissions. Competition Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any Participant who Competition Sponsor discovers has undertaken or attempted to undertake the use of data other than the Data, or who uses the Data other than as permitted according to the Competition Website and in these Competition Rules, in the course of the Competition.
CODE SHARING. Participants are prohibited from privately sharing source or executable code developed in connection with or based upon the Data, and any such sharing is a breach of these Competition Rules and may result in disqualification. Participants are permitted to publicly share source or executable code developed in connection with or based upon the Data, or otherwise relevant to the Competition, provided that such sharing does not violate the intellectual property rights of any third party. By so sharing, the sharing Participant is thereby deemed to have licensed the shared code under the MIT License (an open source software license commonly described at http://opensource.org/licenses/MIT), and therefore is not eligible to receive a prize for this Competition.
OPEN-SOURCE CODE. A Submission will be ineligible to win a prize if it was developed using code containing or depending on software licensed under an open source license:
- other than an Open Source Initiative-approved license (see http://opensource.org/licenses); or
- an open source license that prohibits commercial use.
Participant warranties and obligations
By registering, you agree that (a) your Account is complete, correct and accurate and (b) your registration may be rejected or terminated and all Entries submitted by you and/or your Team may be disqualified if any of the information in your Account is (or Competition Sponsor of DrivenData has reasonable grounds to believe it is) incomplete, incorrect or inaccurate. You are solely responsible for your Account. All registration information is deemed collected in the United States.
Participation is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. You are responsible for checking applicable laws and regulations in your jurisdiction before participating in the Competition to make sure that your participation is legal. You are responsible for all taxes and reporting related to any award that you may receive as part of the Competition. You are responsible for abiding by your employer's policies regarding participation in the Competition. Competition Sponsor and DrivenData disclaim any and all liability or responsibility for disputes arising between you and your employer related to this Competition.
Each Participant is solely responsible for all equipment, including but not necessarily limited to a computer and internet connection necessary to access the Competition Website and to develop and upload any Submission, and any telephone, data, hosting or other service fees associated with such access, as well as all costs incurred by or behalf of the Entrant in participating in the Competition.
By entering a Submission, you represent and warrant that all information you enter on the Competition Website is true and complete to the best of your knowledge, that you have the right and authority to make the Submission (including any underlying code and model) on your own behalf or on behalf of the persons and entities that you specify within the Submission, and that your Submission:
- complies with all applicable federal, state, local and international laws and regulations;
- is your own original work, or is used by permission, in which case full and proper credit and identify is given and the third party contributions are clearly identified within your Submission;
- does not contain confidential information or trade secrets and is not the subject of a registered patent or pending patent application;
- does not violate or infringe upon the patent rights, industrial design rights, copyrights, trademarks, rights of privacy, publicity or other intellectual property or other rights of any person or entity;
- does not contain malicious code, such as viruses, timebombs, cancelbots, worms, Trojan horses or other potentially harmful programs or other material or information;
- does not and will not violate any applicable law, statute, ordinance, rule or regulation;
- does not trigger any reporting or royalty obligation to any third party; and
- was not previously published and has not won any other prize/award.
A breach of any of these warranties will result in the corresponding Submission being invalid.
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Injunctive Relief. Participant acknowledges that any violation or threatened violation of this Section may cause irreparable injury to the other party, entitling the disclosing party to obtain injunctive relief in addition to all legal remedies.
Equipment and costs of participation
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Delivery and receipt of entries
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Reservation of rights
DrivenData, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to disqualify any person tampering with the entry process, the operation of the Web site, the competition process, or is otherwise in violation of the rules. DrivenData reserves the right at any time to disqualify a Submission from a Competition where, acting in good faith, it believes there are reasonable grounds to warrant disqualification. For example, DrivenData determination that the Submission does not provide the functionality described or required, or the Submission appears to be purposely designed to circumvent these Rules or the spirit of the Competition would be grounds for disqualification. DrivenData reserves the right to cancel, terminate or modify the competition if it is not capable of completion as planned for any reason, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention or technical failures of any sort.
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Limitations of liability
By participating in the Competition, each Participant agrees that: (1) any and all disputes, claims, and causes of action arising out of or in connection with the Competition, or any prize awarded, shall be resolved individually without resort to any form of class action; (2) any claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering the Competition, but in no event attorney's fees; and (3) under no circumstances will a Participant be permitted to obtain any award for, and each Participant hereby waives all rights to claim, punitive, incidental or consequential damages and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased and any other damages, other than damages for actual out-of-pocket expenses.
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Disclaimer of Warranties
You understand that we cannot and do not guarantee or warrant that files available for downloading from the internet or the Competition Website will be free of viruses or other destructive code. You are responsible for implementing sufficient procedures and checkpoints to satisfy your particular requirements for anti-virus protection and accuracy of data input and output, and for maintaining a means external to our site for any reconstruction of any lost data. DRIVENDATA AND SPONSORS WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGE CAUSED BY A DISTRIBUTED DENIAL-OF-SERVICE ATTACK, VIRUSES OR OTHER TECHNOLOGICALLY HARMFUL MATERIAL THAT MAY INFECT YOUR COMPUTER EQUIPMENT, COMPUTER PROGRAMS, DATA OR OTHER PROPRIETARY MATERIAL DUE TO YOUR USE OF THE WEBSITE OR ANY SERVICES OR ITEMS OBTAINED THROUGH THE WEBSITE OR TO YOUR DOWNLOADING OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON IT, OR ON ANY WEBSITE LINKED TO IT.
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Governing Law and Jurisdiction
DrivenData shall be the sole interpreter of these Official Rules.
All matters relating to the Official Rules or the Competition and any dispute or claim arising therefrom or related thereto (in each case, including non-contractual disputes or claims), shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the internal laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts without giving effect to any choice or conflict of law provision or rule (whether of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or any other jurisdiction).
The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these Official Rules shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. In the event that any provision is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable or illegal, these Official Rules shall otherwise remain in effect and be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or illegal provision was not contained herein.