As course-backpacking season begins, University of Michigan students can now use ClassAI, a new web app that uses a model to analyze the chances students have of getting into a class based on the date and time they register. The web app was co-founded and designed by Business junior Jordan Katz and Engineering junior Tyler Laredo to save students an estimated five to 10 hours during backpacking for open courses.

“The big thing about this is this doesn’t exist,” Katz said. “We had to create this from scratch. I wanted to create something for all students to avoid having these problems in the future.”

Katz said he has spent hours rearranging his schedules and searching for courses ever since he was a freshman. The app gives students the percentage points of their chances of successfully enrolling for a course, as well as graphs on how quickly sections fill up.

“I came in as a freshman with not the most favorable registration date,” Katz said. “I would have to change my schedule multiple times before registration. I felt like every time I registered, I essentially wasted time by not having information to go off of, like looking into classes I might have statistically no chance of getting into.”

The team compiled statistics and data from last semester’s registration period for winter 2017, mostly mined from University data, indicating how quickly every course, section and lab at the University filled up. Katz said they found trends and patterns from year to year for registration depending on the date and time you register using primarily the University’s Application Program Interface portal.

“In order to collect the data that’s powering our model, I actually started building this in November, and I built the system to capture all that data through the University’s programmatic (interface),” Katz said. “The big thing was getting it while the registration process was happening.”

Engineering junior Tyler Ringler said he uses ClassAI because he has a late registration date and hasn’t been able to get into two to three classes per semester he originally wanted. He said he typically has to redo his schedule several times before finding one that works.

“It is a very useful tool when it comes to scheduling,” Ringler said. “It was very easy to sign up and even easier to add my classes. It took me less than three minutes to sign up and add all of my classes onto the app. This is the same time it would take me to search for my class, find the class number, and then change tabs and backpack it in Wolverine Access.”

While not wanting to reveal all the factors of their algorithm, Katz said they do take professor ratings and teacher-evaluation from course evaluation scores to help shape their predictions.

“It’s not just one kind of piece of information we’re looking at,” Katz said. “We want a comprehensive view to be accurate.”

Katz said this kind of solution to students’ registration troubles is unprecedented and hopes that after their first time doing this for the fall 2017 semester based off winter 2017 data they’ll be able to get an accurate display of data for both fall and winter semesters.

“So far based on our tests, we feel confident,” Katz said. “Really what it comes down to is increasing information, because right now there’s no information about any of this. After this registration process, we’ll have a good understanding of both (semesters). But right now, we apply some of our intuition.”

Katz said ClassAI also could save many students from stress, as he himself has spent hours trying to figure out his chances of getting into a class by hand, but now the app does all the work for him.

“If you’re an anxious person like me, you’ll just sit there and check that number of seats,” Katz said. “Our system basically does that work so you don’t get to the point where you computing the slope of enrollment. Usually those things you equate in your head aren’t to exact precision.”

Ringler said that though he still uses the same amount of time to backpack, the app has given him a better indication of whether he has a chance to get into a certain class he likes. For Ringler, this is “invaluable,” because now he can search for alternatives sooner than minutes before he registers.

“I don’t know if it has limited the time I’ve spent backpacking, because most of the time I spend backpacking revolves around getting the classes and teachers I want to work out,” Ringler said “However, it certainly made the process easier because I have the data in front of me that shows if I should consider an alternative schedule or not. Because of this, I am considering my alternatives now rather than 10 minutes before my registration period, which is invaluable.”

Katz said there he hears some skepticism on the app’s accuracy, but reiterated it is meant to only be supplemental in helping students to be more informed.

“We’re not anti-Wolverine Access,” Katz said. “But we’re offering an alternative for backpacking. The time saved can really help students relax or spend more time studying.”

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