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NCSA presents award to Allstate for innovative uses of technology

CONTACT: Karen Green, NCSA (217) 265-0748; kareng@ncsa.uiuc
Marissa Quiles, Allstate (847) 402-3987;


EDITORS: The news media are welcome to attend the awards luncheon mentioned below. Contact Karen Green (phone and e-mail address above) for details.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will present the annual Grand Challenge Award on Tuesday (April 29) to Allstate Insurance Co.

The award recognizes the innovative work the company has done as a partner in the center’s Private Sector Program (PSP).

The award will be presented to an Allstate team during the PSP annual awards luncheon beginning at noon at the Holiday Inn, 1001 Killarney, Urbana.

NCSA established the Grand Challenge Award in 1992 to recognize PSP corporations for significant strategic and competitive breakthroughs resulting from their partnerships with NCSA. Allstate, a PSP partner for seven years, will be honored for its industry leadership using and helping to develop NCSA data-mining technology. Several product and research groups at Allstate worked with NCSA’s Automated Learning Group, the research team that developed a data mining software suite called D2K (Data to Knowledge).

D2K integrates more than 100 modules representing both common and unique data-mining algorithms. These algorithms can – among other things – clean up data sets and prepare them for computations, search for patterns, make predictions, identify unusual features, and visualize the data for further analysis.

"Our relationship with Allstate is an example of a success story for both the public and private sectors," NCSA Director Dan Reed said. "We give the companies the opportunity to use cutting-edge tools that they might have never been able to develop because of competitive pressures of the marketplace. In turn, we gain insights from our corporate partners and are able to see how our new technologies apply to real-world business situations. The end result is that we are both able to shape the future, and the American business sector is able to maintain its competitive edge."

According to Ron McNeil, Allstate’s senior vice president of product operations, working with NCSA has helped the company better understand its customers and offer them products that provide the most value for the price.

"Understanding our customers so we can better match our products to their needs is essential in our business," said McNeil. "A key to that understanding is data and how we use it. By working with NCSA, we have been able to turn raw data into information and action that we can use in the marketplace."

The goal of the Private Sector Program is to partner with leading-edge companies so that NCSA software and technologies are applied to real-world business challenges. Working with NCSA, companies have reaped the benefits of access to technological breakthroughs before their competition. In addition to Allstate, current PSP partners are the Boeing Co., Caterpillar Inc., Motorola Inc., and Sears, Roebuck and Co.

NCSA, a national high-performance computing center that develops and deploys cutting-edge computing, networking and information technologies, is funded by the National Science Foundation. Additional support comes from the state of Illinois, the University of Illinois, private sector partners and other federal agencies. For more information, visit