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Problem Statement:

You have been appointed the Chief Procurement Officer of Vada Pavs R Us. We are the nation’s leading manufacturers of Vada Pavs. For one of our flagship stores, we’d like you to purchase all the potatoes, chillies and other assorted ingredients that go into making the nation’s favorite snack. If you thought French cooking was difficult, wait till you see our patented recipe (see worksheet "Vada Pav Recipe" in the Dataset).

We've been consistently ranked the nation’s top seller of Vada Pavs (see worksheet "Historical Sales" in the Dataset). We'd like you to make sure that our chefs have all the ingredients that they need. They’re really cranky – our last procurement officer messed up supply this one time and no one’s heard of him since. We’re also trying to locate a barrel of oil that went missing around the same time.

Our suppliers are known to be a capricious lot. They raise prices before you can say 'extra mirchi' and we've tried not to be too dependent on any one of them (See worksheet "Supplier Details" in the Dataset). Our ingredients are sourced from all corners of the known universe and our supply chain has to contend with tin-pot dictators, cyclones and other forces of nature. To help you do your job better we have attached all the orders that we have placed over the last 72 weeks. (worksheet "Historical Order Summary" in the Dataset).

Here's what we need you to do. Ensure that demand is met adequately and that our stocks are fresh. Did we mention that you also have to ensure that our costs (all of them - procurement, storage and wastage) are kept down to the lowest extent possible? Each and every customer is important so try to keep the loss of sales to a minimum. We’d like you to take a look at our historical sales trends and help us come up with a daily buy plan – the units of raw material that we need to procure in order to meet the demand (estimated by you), the prices at which we should purchase them and the times of purchase for each of the goods. You can use the template as given in worksheet "Output Summary" in the Dataset.

Changes to the Problem Statement:

Our capricious vendors have cited the increasing fuel prices and inflation as an excuse and raised the prices of ALL the ingredients. The new prices can be found in datasets. We may have to increase the price of the vadapav. For the purposes of calculating and optimizing costs, assume that you sell the vada pavs at Rs 150. Also please note that the base inventory for each months is the same. You start each month fresh with the same amount of ingredients.

Here are a few hints to get you started:

  • Objective: Minimize total monthly cost. That is, minimize the sum of procurement cost, inventory storage costs, wastage and lost sales
  • Procurement = Price of unit (on that day) x No. of units to be procured
  • Inventory storage cost = Inventory holding cost (per unit) x No. of units in inventory at the end of each day
  • Wastage cost = Disposal cost / unit x No. of units expired (Only for expired material)
  • Lost sales = Selling price x Units of unmet demand
  • Expected output: A daily buy plan (for a month)


  • Orders for a fresh planning cycle in July will have to be placed starting July 1st
  • A fixed quantity of each commodity will be provided on the first of the month, to ensure that the store is up & running from the first day of the month
  • Inventory ordered on the basis of previous month’s buy plan cannot be carried forward to the next month and will be considered as wastage or accounted under inventory storage costs
  • Shelf life for a product starts from the day they are received (ignoring transportation time)

MuPhoria (the “Contest”) is designed to:

  • Create awareness about the Decision Sciences industry
  • Encourage and inspire students to gain exposure to real world business problems
  • Provide students an opportunity to innovate by integrating Math, Business and Technology

The contest is open to students who are currently in the pre-final or final year of a 4 / 5 year Engineering program in India, and who agree to abide by the Terms and Conditions mentioned.

  1. You must obtain the consent of a parent or legal guardian in order to be eligible to receive any prize. You are also required to submit a proof of enrolment from your Engineering College
  2. The contest is open to residents of India, and is void in any other state or province prohibited or restricted by Indian or local law
  3. Employees, interns, contractors, and official office-holders of Mu Sigma Inc., Mu Sigma Business Solutions, and their subsidiaries, members of the immediate families (defined as parents, children, siblings and spouse, regardless of where they reside, and/or those living in the same household of each) are ineligible to participate in the Contest
  4. Contestants are allowed to form teams. However, each team can comprise up to a maximum of two individuals and all contestants need to satisfy the eligibility criteria independently


  1. Buy plans must necessarily be submitted in the format provided. Failure to comply with the format will lead to disqualification from that month’s contest
  2. Each team can send the answers just once per month during the course of the  competition
  3. Any publicly available programming language can be used to arrive at the answer
  4. Excepting the standard packages that come with the programming language, no other packages must be used
  5. The participant agrees that all code / material submitted in this competition is original and authentic and does not violate or infringe any national / international copyrights or patents
  6. The code has to be well documented and should be executable on a regular laptop with reasonable hardware requirements
  7. The participant(s) agree to forego their rights on all codes / answers / IP submitted during the competition. They will become a property of Mu Sigma once submitted for evaluation
  8. Mu Sigma holds the rights to use / re-use any of the content generated during this competition (codes / photos / video / media, etc.) for their marketing purposes
  9. All entries should be received by the 30th of the month to be considered for that month.
  10. Authenticity of the solutions will be determined only after a video conference (through Skype), where the winners will walk through the solution to a panel of Mu Sigma experts


Each Entry will be judged by a panel of experts (the “Judges”) associated with Mu Sigma. Determinations of judges will be at the discretion of Mu Sigma.
Mu Sigma will evaluate each Entry according to the following factors:

  1. Final Solution - Minimum Total Cost (Procurement cost + Inventory holding cost + Wastage + Lost sales)
  2. Creativity
  3. Thoroughness
  4. Quality of work

The decision of Mu Sigma in this matter is final and binding. Winners will be notified by email and a leaderboard will be posted on the Main Contest Page on or before the 8th of every month.

  1. Each month’s winners will be identified on the basis of a number of factors – comprising but not necessarily limited to lowest overall cost for that month and the most innovative solution
  2. The prize money for each month will be a total of Rs. 2 Lakhs
  3. In case of a tie between two teams, the prize money will be given to the team with the most innovative solution
  4. One contestant / team is eligible to win at most 3 times during the competition. After this the team will not be eligible to participate in the competition
  5. Winning teams will be flown in for a final round of interview at our Bangalore office after the competition closes (Dec 2013). Winners will be duly notified of the dates and other necessary details
  6. Members of winning teams who are offered a chance to join Mu Sigma will be eligible for a one-time sign-on bonus of Rs. 3 Lakhs on the completion of three months employment at Mu Sigma


In the event that you participate in this contest, the below points are mandated:
  1. Each participant is required to fill in the Application Form and Letter of Eligibility individually
  2. Each team is permitted to submit only one deliverable (which includes code, documentation)
  3. E-mail all the (participants') documents to as a single mail


Click here to download the application form

Click here to download the letter of eligibility from your college (To be printed on the Institution's letterhead)


The  MuPhoria  2013 – Online Problem Solving Competition ("Competition") is a competition designed to create awareness about the Decision Sciences industry  and to encourage and inspire students to gain exposure to real world business problems and further to provide students an opportunity to innovate by integrating Math, Business and Technology. Prizes will be awarded to those Participants who will be adjudged as the winner of the competition by the Judging panel.  

  1. BINDING AGREEMENT: In order to enter the Competition, you must agree to these Terms and Conditions ("Terms"). Therefore, please read these Terms prior to entry to ensure you understand and agree. You agree that submission of an entry in the Competition constitutes agreement to these Terms. You may not submit an entry to the Competition and are not eligible to receive the prizes unless you agree to these Terms. These Terms form a binding legal agreement between you and Mu Sigma  ("Mu Sigma") with respect to the Competition.
  1. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Only final or pre-final year students of engineering colleges are eligible to participate in this Competition.
    All communications between Mu Sigma  and Participants, including but not limited to the Competition website content and email communications, will be in English.
  1. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS: The Participant retains ownership of all intellectual and industrial property rights in and to the Entry that Participant had before submitting the Entry. As a condition of Entry, Participant grants Mu Sigma a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, adapt, modify, publish, distribute, publicly perform, and publicly display any Entry that Participant submits to this Competition (1) for the purposes of allowing Mu Sigma and the Judges to test and evaluate the Entry for purposes of the Competition, and (2) in connection with advertising and promotion via communication to the public or other groups, including, but not limited to the right to make screenshots, animations and video clips available for promotional purposes. All Entries (code and otherwise) must be submitted and published according to the instructions given at site. Participant may mirror code or other works on her/his personal infrastructure at her/his option and expense.
  1. PERMITED USE. Participants may use any programming language to solve the problems, using any development environment or text editor as long as the compiler or interpreter used for that language is freely available. Use of time-limited free trials for compilers and interpreters is prohibited unless there is a free version of such compiler or interpreter available. Mu Sigma reserves the right to put restrictions, on a case-by-case basis at its sole discretion.
  1. TAXES. PAYMENTS TO POTENTIAL WINNERS ARE SUBJECT TO THE EXPRESS REQUIREMENT THAT THEY SUBMIT TO MU SIGMA  ALL DOCUMENTATION REQUESTED BY MU SIGMA  TO PERMIT IT TO COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE CENTRAL, STATE, LOCAL AND FOREIGN (INCLUDING PROVINCIAL) TAX REPORTING AND WITHHOLDING REQUIREMENTS. ALL PRIZES WILL BE NET OF ANY TAXES MU SIGMA  IS REQUIRED BY LAW TO WITHHOLD. ALL TAXES IMPOSED ON PRIZES ARE THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WINNERS In order to receive a prize, potential winners must submit the tax documentation requested by Mu Sigma or otherwise required by applicable law, to Mu Sigma or the relevant tax authority, all as determined by applicable law, including, where relevant, the law of the potential winner’s country of residence. The potential winner and his/her parent or legal guardian are responsible for ensuring that (s) he complies with all the applicable tax laws and filing requirements. If a potential winner fails to provide such documentation or comply with such laws, the prize may be forfeited and Mu Sigma may, in its sole discretion, select an alternative potential winner.
  1. GENERAL CONDITIONS OF COMPETITION. Mu Sigma reserves the right to substitute an alternate prize of equal or greater value. Prizes are awarded without warranty of any kind from Mu Sigma, express or implied, without limitation, except where this would be contrary to central, state, or local laws or regulations. All central government, state, provincial and local laws and regulations  shall apply. Submission of   software code, documentations, and other details pertaining to problem statement  in this Competition constitutes agreement by the Participant to the terms and conditions of these Rules. Decisions of Mu Sigma and the Judges are final and binding on all matters pertaining to this Competition and the decision of the Judges will not be challenged by any participants.. Participants agree and acknowledge that the downloading and running of any source code from the Competition is undertaken at the sole risk of the downloading participant and not Mu Sigma  or any other participant.
    To the extent permitted by law, participants agree to hold Mu Sigma, its subsidiaries and affiliates and their respective directors, officers, employees and assigns harmless for any injury or damage caused or claimed to be caused by participation in the Competition and/or use or acceptance of any prize won, except to the extent that any death or personal injury is caused by the negligence of Mu Sigma. Mu Sigma  will not be liable in the event a typographical or other error occurs in the administration of the Competition or the announcement of the winners.

  2. DATA PRIVACY. Participants agree that personal data entered during the registration, including name, mailing address, phone number, and email address may be processed, stored, displayed and otherwise used for the purposes and within the context of the Competition. This data may also be transferred into the United States or Europe. By entering, participants agree to the transmission, processing, sharing and storage of this personal data in the United States or Europe.
    Participants also understand this data may be used by Mu Sigma  in order to verify a participant's identity, postal address and telephone number in the event a participant qualifies for a prize, and if agreed to by participant, for recruiting purposes.

  3. WARRANTY AND INDEMNITY. Participant certifies that their submission is original and that they are the sole and exclusive owner and right holder of the submission and that they have the right to enter the Competition. Each participant certifies that all parts of his/her code, compilers and other binaries used in the processing of inputs into outputs are either original, or are licensed for use by both Mu Sigma  and all participants in a way that does not: (1) infringe any third party proprietary, intellectual property, industrial property, personal rights or other rights, including without limitation, copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret or confidentiality obligation; or (2) make use of ideas, hints or solutions for the Competition presented, other than by Mu Sigma, for the first time after the start of the Competition in any form, including without limitation from other individuals, participants, websites, listservs or blogs; or (3) otherwise violate applicable laws and regulations.
    To the maximum extent permitted by law, each participant indemnifies and agrees to keep indemnified Mu Sigma at all times from and against any liability, claims, demands, losses, damages, costs and expenses resulting from any act, default or omission of the participant and/or a breach of any warranty set forth herein. To the maximum extent permitted by law, each participant agrees to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Mu Sigma from and against any and all claims, actions, suits or proceedings, as well as any and all losses, liabilities, damages, costs and expenses (including reasonable attorneys fees) arising out of or accruing from (a) any entry or other material uploaded or otherwise provided by the participant that infringes any copyright, trademark, trade secret, trade dress, patent or other intellectual property right of any person or defames any person or violates their rights of publicity or privacy, (b) any misrepresentation made by the participant in connection with the Competition; (c) any non-compliance by the participant with these Terms; (d) claims brought by persons or entities other than the parties to the terms and condition of this agreement  arising from or related to the participant 's involvement with the Competition; (e) acceptance, possession, misuse or use of any prize or participation in any Competition-related activity or participation in this Competition; (f) any malfunction or other problem with the Competition Site; (g) any error in the collection, processing, or retention of entry information; or (h) any typographical or other error in the printing, offering or announcement of any prize or winners.

  4. ELIMINATION. A participant may be prohibited from participating in this Competition if, in Mu Sigma 's sole discretion, Mu Sigma  reasonably believes that the participant has attempted to undermine the legitimate operation of the Competition by: (a) Providing false information concerning his/her identity, postal address, mail address or telephone number; (b) Breaching any of the provisions set forth in terms and conditions of this agreement; (c) Threatening, harassing or interfering with the ability of other participant s to effectively participate in the Competition; (d) Threatening, harassing or interfering with Mu Sigma  administrators or other employees;  (e) Communicating or publishing information concerning the content of the problems, or solutions to the problems, with other participantts, either directly or indirectly, before the end of the Competition; or  (f) Refusing to comply with these Terms.
    Mu Sigma further reserves the right to disqualify any submission that it believes in its sole and unfettered discretion infringes upon or violates the rights of any third party or otherwise does not comply with these Terms.
  1.  INTERNET: Mu Sigma  is not responsible for electronic transmission errors resulting in omission, interruption, deletion, defect, or delay in operations or transmission. Mu Sigma  is not responsible for theft or destruction or unauthorized access to or alterations of submission materials, or for technical, network, telephone equipment, electronic, computer, hardware or software malfunctions or limitations of any kind. Mu Sigma  is not responsible for inaccurate transmissions of or Mu Sigma's failure to receive participant 's output  information on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any Web site or any combination thereof, except to the extent that any death or personal injury is caused by the negligence of Mu Sigma. If for any reason a portion of the Competition website is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this Competition, Mu Sigma reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Competition. Mu Sigma reserves the right to select winners from eligible submissions received. Mu Sigma   further reserves the right to disqualify any individual who tampers with the submission process.
    Caution: Any attempt by a Participant to deliberately damage any Web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the Competition is a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, Mu Sigma  reserves the right to seek damages from any such participant to the fullest extent of the law.
  1. GOVERNING LAW AND JURISDICTION. To the extent permitted by law, the rights to litigate, to seek injunctive relief or to make any other recourse to judicial or any other procedure in case of disputes or claims resulting from or in connection with this Competition are hereby excluded, and any participant expressly waives any and all such rights. If such exclusion or waiver is not permitted by law, the participant agrees to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts located within the Bangalore, India to resolve any legal matter arising from the dispute or claims. Participant s agree that these Terms are governed by the laws of India. Participant s further agree that Mu Sigma will not be liable for any errors, ambiguities or other inaccuracies caused by Mu Sigma in the design, execution, judging or other aspects of the Competition.

  2. INVALIDITY. If any provision(s) of these Terms are held to be invalid or unenforceable, all remaining provisions hereof will remain in full force and effect.

MuPhoria 2013 FAQs

Q: Are 3rd year engineering students (of a 5-year program) eligible for participation in the contest?
A: No.

Q: Can the students form team from different college / university?
A: Yes, as long as each member of the team individually satisfy the eligibility criteria.

Q: Will individuals who have completed their 4 year B.Tech program, but are yet to receive their results, be eligible?
A: Only the students who are enrolled in college can participate.

Q: Can a student pursuing Masters in Engineering participate in the MuPhoria contest?
A: No. this contest is NOT open to students pursuing their Masters in Engineering.

Q: How can one register for the contest?
A: You need to fill in your details in an online form, in order to download the datasets.
When you are ready with the final solution, please clearly mention in the e-mail , the participant(s) name, age, DOB, email id and institute's name, and send the complete package to

Q: What is “Unmet demand”?
A: Unmet demand  is people walking into your store for Vada Pavs and you not having them. If ANY ONE of the ingredients are in short supply then you will have unmet demand.
If you have more Vada Pavs than demand, then that is NOT unmet demand (and yes there will be no lost sales in this case).

Q. Is using a programming language mandatory to arrive at the solution?
A: No, It is Not necessary. You can use a spreadsheet tool such as Microsoft Excel as well to arrive at the solution. But you have to explain your approach through proper documentation.
If you do use the programming means you should submit an instruction manual to run your code, along with an approach note that elucidates your approach towards the problem and its solution.

Your Final Submission Package should include your eligibility certificate, application form, and the solution package that would include

  • The output / answer of the solution duly filled in the template "Order Summary" as given in the dataset,
  • Executable code, Source Code, an approach document to the problem, application documents / instructions to run the code, etc.) and / or a worked upon excel sheet along with approach document to the problem

If you have any further queries relating to MuPhoria competition, please write to us at

Past winners speak on MuPhoria

Bibaswan Chatterjee
M.E. CSE, IISC, Bangalore

My Experience of MuPhoria
“MuPhoria is very different kind of competition. The
input data is already provided. For weeks, my partner and I tried hundreds of experiments on the data. We wrote hundreds of versions of our solution and made constant changes till we got the best possible answer.

My advice to other participants
"Identify the problem, study it carefully, explore all known approaches and heuristics. Finally experiment and innovate! That will make the final cut! All the best!"

Suman Kumar Datta
M.E. CSE, IISC, Bangalore

My Experience of MuPhoria
It was a nice experience to solve the problem and it
was nice as there was no patent algorithm to solve
it—so we had to experiment a lot.

My advice to other participants
Think -> Code -> Analyse and then Re-think. All the best!


Vikash Verma &
Mayank Shekhar

B.Tech CSE,
BIT, Sindri, Dhanbad

Our Experience of MuPhoria
“The problem was a little bit difficult than the previous one. After the problem was published, we tried to understand the problem thoroughly. We tried to simulate the problem through real-life situation to forecast - considering other constraints as well. We had a little experience of MuPhoria which inculcated in us the enthusiasm to participate this year also. We dedicated weeks to analyse the problem and program & document the solution.

Our advice to other participants
"Do participate in such type of contests if you really want to show and improve your problem solving skills. It will help you to develop new ideas and approaches. You will learn a lot of new things while solving this problem. And lastly, “If you want something you never had then do something you never did."

Kunal Dhakappa
B.Tech, Mechanical Engineering
Don Bosco Institute of Technology, Mumbai

My Experience of MuPhoria
MuPhoria is a very unique competition in itself. It was
an enriching experience of participating in MuPhoria. The problem statement posed a very complex challenge, something that gave me a thrill. The wonderful part about this competition was that I ended up studying and understanding much more than there is, in our course curriculum. At the end, I was extremely delighted that all the hard work had paid off. This was a once in a lifetime experience, something that I will always be proud of.

My advice to other participants
Start with an intent to win, even if you don’t, you will learn a lot along the way and the experience will be worth remembering. Don’t let the complexity of the data dampen your spirits, JUST GO FOR IT!!!


Devesh Yamparala
B.Tech CSE,
IIT Madras

My Experience of MuPhoria
“It was a learning experience. We decided to try out a
few things and learnt them on the way. It was a lot of hard work to get it working correctly but we enjoyed the process.”

My advice to other participants
“I believe MuPhoria provide opportunities to learn and implement ideas that you don't get to implement inside classroom/curriculum. So, take this opportunity to try something new.”

Dhanvin Mehta
B.Tech, CSE
IIT Madras

My Experience of MuPhoria
“I liked the fact that the problem was open-ended and
close to a real-world scenario—leaves a lot of scope for discussion and exploring new ideas. Even after hitting upon the idea, getting it to work was tricky and required patience and sometimes faith. All in all, it was fun.”

My advice to other participants
“Spend most of your time planning and exploring ideas. Understand what you need to do before attempting to solve the problem. Most importantly, enjoy the journey.”


Smit Mehta
B.Tech CSE,
IIT Madras

My Experience of MuPhoria
“The experience was very good. We divided the work
on the basis of our strengths. While my teammate (Praveen) concentrated on the time series and the maths part of the problem, I worked on the optimization bit to code the solution. We also picked up a few skills along the way.

My advice to other participants
“It’s a really good experience. It pushes you to explore new areas and get some practical exposure for the courses you have learnt so far.”

Praveen Kumar
B.Tech, Electrical Engineering
IIT Madras

My Experience of MuPhoria
“The problem can be thought of and attacked at
using different approaches like the conventional time series/machine learning prediction models with convex optimizations techniques to reinforce learning. It was a gratifying and fulfilling experience to apply what I've learnt. I'm thankful to Mu Sigma and the MuPhoria team for giving a real experience and feel of the business problems that they solve on a continual basis.

My advice to other participants
“I was fortunate to have cracked it, I really urge others to attempt it. Of course, cash is an incentive, but a better incentive—at least for us—was the problem itself. The excitement of seeing our knowledge put to work and it giving us insights on business decisions is brilliant! Attempting this will definitely get one a feel of real world problems and at best, will truly help one to learn many aspects of modelling and prediction.”

Steps to participate in the contest:

  • Read the rules and the problem statement
  • Download and fill the application form completely (Each participant should fill in a separate application form)
  • Obtain a duly signed eligibility certificate from your college
  • Solve away!
  • Mail the entire package (Application forms, Eligibility Certificates, A daily buy-plan in the worksheet
    “Output Summary” as given in data-set, and documentation on your approach to the problem, etc. ) to


The Contest begins at 12:00 AM IST ON July 9th, 2013 and ends at 11:59 PM IST ON December 28th, 2013 (“Contest Period”).

Note: Using programming / coding to arrive at the solution is not mandatory. What is necessary as an output is a daily buy-plan as shared in the screenshot.

Click here to enlarge

You need to forecast the demand for the month of December using the above template.

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This contest has concluded.
Thank you for your interest.
© Copyright 2013, Mu Sigma. All rights reserved