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  • Extracting Relevance from Mountains of Data

    February 13, 2013

    DARPA convenes experts to address growing need for Big Data analysis tools 

    DARPA held a multi-program performer meeting for researchers to hear presentations on the latest innovations and promising approaches in the area of Big Data and data analytics. Speakers during the day-long event included representatives from the White House, FBI, universities from across the country and leading companies from the private sector who are focused on the potential efficiencies and advantages that can be gained in Big Data.

    "Big Data" refers to a technology phenomenon that has arisen over the past 30 years. As computers have improved, growing storage and processing capacities have provided new and powerful ways to gain insight into the world by sifting through the infinite quantities of data available. But this insight, discoverable in previously unseen patterns and trends within these phenomenally large data sets, can be hard to detect without new analytic tools that can comb through the information and highlight points of interest.

    Recognizing the potential benefits to Government efficiency and effectiveness, in March of 2012, President Barack Obama encouraged new advances in data analytics by launching a "Big Data Research and Development Initiative" that commits six Federal departments and agencies to advancing the science of data analysis. As part of this initiative, DARPA's XDATA program was launched to create tools to assimilate and process mountains of data that come in disparate types and sizes, and then provide visualization tools to allow users to analyze trends and glean value from the data.

    "Our Government and our military are creating mountains of data that hold powerful insights on how we can improve our operations," said Todd Park, Assistant to the President and U.S. Chief Technology Officer. "Data are only useful, though, if they are applied, and our goal here today is to build the tools that can turn government and military data into a national resource to find efficiencies in government and ways to strengthen our national security. DARPA's XDATA program and the community of researchers and performers they have brought together will be critical in advancing the state of the art in Big Data analytics."

    "There are obvious national security benefits to being able to extract meaningful information from the datasets we collect," explained DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar. "The challenge is processing and interacting with that data because there is so much of it. If we can develop the computational tools, scalable algorithms and intuitive user interfaces, the implications reach far beyond DoD as well."

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