Hack Week 2013

Team Pegasus’s quadcopter gathers on-the-scene damage assessments via aerial imagery for better disaster recovery.

Hack Week: a Palantir tradition

Now in its fifth year, Hack Week is an annual tradition at Palantir. During Hack Week, all normal work on our products stop and ad-hoc teams compete to create prototypes of new features (or even whole new products). While innovation is a normal part of work in crafting Palantir’s Data Fusion Platforms and the constellation of technologies that support them, Hack Week is intended to give everyone a blank canvas. People are encouraged to build things that take us in unexpected and unplanned directions. It’s a week of unbound creativity, throttled only by the need to sleep and the looming deadline of the Hack Week Final Presentations.

Team C-Dog presents their work on operational transforms to enable realtime collaboration.

In years past, various Hack Week projects have become full-fledged parts of our product lineup. Notably:

  • Palantir Mobile is a mobile client that allows personnel in the field to collaborate in real time with analysts at a central location. Palantir Mobile is now an integral part of a number of our customers’ field operations, including our philanthropic work with Team Rubicon to improve the speed and efficacy of disaster recovery.
  • Horizon was a Hack Week project in 2009 that empowers interactive analysis on billions of objects. An in-memory query system that’s integral to many Palantir workflows, it’s similar in architecture to the AMPLab’s more recent Spark project.
  • Palantir Gotham’s Map Application, which allows analysts to combine semantic and link-relation analysis with a rich set geospatial visualization tools came out of the original Hack Week in 2008.

See our post from last year’s Hack Week for a short video that really captures the energy and spirit of hack week.

Watching the presentations as teams ship what’s done at the end of the week.

Bigger than ever before

Timed to allow our summer interns to participate, over 100 teams formed and got down to work. 88 different teams submitted finished projects for consideration. 12 projects made it to the final stage to place in six different categories.

One project used RaspberryPi and lock sensors to automate the tracking of shower availability in the office.

And the winner is…

This year’s finalists were quite varied in the different problems that they tackled. Here are a few:

  • A project that mated a GoPro camera to a lightweight quadcopter, along with all the software integration to fly it and bring in imagery to aid in disaster recovery damage assessments.
  • A web-based version of the Palantir Gotham Graph application that allowed multiple users to collaborate in real time.
  • A system that uses Elasticsearch on top of Palantir Phoenix to do interactive querying and filtering of very large datasets for cyber security workflows.
  • A project to distill a Palantir Metropolis installation such that it can run on a single laptop for smaller workflows and faster setup and prototyping.
  • A complete rewrite of the Palantir Metropolis API for web applications to use.

Team Bonding Activists shows off their shared real time graph.

Until next year…

Like many hallowed traditions, Hack Week only comes once a year. Until then, we’ll be counting down the days.