Announcing the M4 (Makridakis 4) Forecasting Competition

Co-organised by the University of Nicosia and the National Technical University of Athens

Professor Spyros Makridakis, a pioneer in the field and, for many, the father of forecasting, is now launching his fourth competition: the Makridakis 4, or M4 Forecasting Competition, to further advance the field. The upcoming competition is being organised by the Institute For the Future (IFF) at the University of Nicosia (UNIC), with the support of the Forecasting & Strategy Unit at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA).

A Professor at UNIC and the Director of IFF, Makridakis has already organised three competitions (M1, M2, and M3) that have substantially contributed to improving forecasting accuracy and informing practitioners on the most appropriate forecasting method to use for their specific needs. This pioneering initiative began almost 4 decades ago, with M-Competitions taking place in 1982, 1993, and 2000.

In that vein, the M4 seeks to identify the most accurate forecasting method(s) for different types of predictions. It aims to get answers on how to improve forecasting accuracy and identify the most appropriate methods for each case. To get precise and compelling answers, the M4 Competition will utilize 100,000 real-life series and will incorporate all major forecasting methods, including those based on Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as the more traditional statistical ones.

The M-Competitions have attracted great interest in both the academic literature and among practitioners, providing objective evidence of the most appropriate way of forecasting various variables of interest. The M4 will extend and replicate the results of the previous three competitions, using an extended and diverse set of time series. It will also utilize advances in data analytics and related technologies to determine their influence on forecasting accuracy.

According to Makridakis: “Forecasting is indispensable for scheduling, planning and strategic decisions for both business firms and government organisations, so any effort to improve its accuracy is of great practical value. It is unquestionably a critical factor for, among other things, reducing costs and providing better customer service. For this reason, business firms, in particular, are encouraged to participate”.

The M4 will award a minimum cash prize of €20,000 to the winners, as well as honorary prizes for the method that achieves the most accurate confidence intervals forecasts.

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