AWS has been a Winter Classic mentor for three years now and their past challenges have roiled the leaderboard – and this year is no exception. The application? RELION, which stands for “REgularized Likelihood OptomizatioN. It’s used electron electron cryomicroscopy (getting stuff cold and then taking a really close look at it) to reconstruct the structures in 3D or 2D.

(The image above is from the Dartmouth lab collection of electron microscopy images and it’s of snow – go figure, right? The AWS mentors provide a great explanation of RELION and why they selected it in their upcoming Winter Classic Mentor interview.)

I have another special guest commentator in this show, AMD’s Brent Gorda, one of the co-founders of ALL student cluster competitions. In the video, Brent recaps the cluster competition origin story and we talk a bit of cluster competition history before revealing how the teams did with RELION and the impact on the big board. It’s scintillating stuff and there are some laughs along the way as well.

Our take on RELION can be summarized as “RELION is hard.” This is also confirmed by the scoring disparity between the teams on this one. It isn’t unusual to see this for a couple of reasons:  1) The tasks get harder once you’re out of the opening benchmark workloads, and, 2) the calendar is working against us as spring breaks, midterms, and finals complicate student schedules. Not to mention that every student in this competition has at least one outside job.

On RELION, the Roadrunners string together their second consecutive 100 point performance, very impressive. The Red Raiders from TTU come in a heartbreaking .85 points behind them, with the Lobos and Fayetteville trailing in third and fourth. Santa Cruz and the TTU Matadors take fifth and sixth place with identical scores of 55.01.

When we last looked at the “Big Board”, the TTU Matadors earned a slight lead over their cross-campus rivals the Red Raiders, Fayetteville was in third with Santa Cruz pressuring them in fourth. Next we had Dolphins, Road Runners, and Lobos.

After RELION, the top slots have been shuffled yet again, with the Red Raiders sticking it to the Matadors, Fayetteville less than two points behind them in third, and Santa Cruz falling a few more points behind the leaders, but still holding on to fourth.

Even though the Roadrunners took first on RELION, it only moved them into fifth, but let them put the rival UNM Lobos team in the rearview mirror. However things in the rearview mirror are always closer than they seem, right? A dreaded DNS (Did Not Submit) score left the Channel Island Dolphin team languishing in seventh place.

Less than 60 points separate first from fifth, and with 200 points on the table with the Google competition module and the Judges Interview still to come, it’s still all up for grabs. Stay tuned for the exciting finish!