Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Data Analysis at Massive Scales

Extracting information and insights from massive datasets; "big data"; "data mining"

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Understanding local languages is essential for effective situational awareness in military operations, and particularly in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts that require immediate and close coordination with local communities. With more than 7,000 languages spoken worldwide, however, the U.S. military frequently encounters languages for which translators are rare and no automated translation capabilities exist. DARPA’s Low Resource Languages for Emergent Incidents (LORELEI) program aims to change this state of affairs by providing real-time essential information in any language to support emergent missions such as humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, peacekeeping and infectious disease response. The program recently awarded Phase 1 contracts to 13 organizations.
Advanced materials are increasingly embodying counterintuitive properties, such as extreme strength and super lightness, while additive manufacturing and other new technologies are vastly improving the ability to fashion these novel materials into shapes that would previously have been extremely costly or even impossible to create. Generating new designs that fully exploit these properties, however, has proven extremely challenging.
Popular search engines are great at finding answers for point-of-fact questions like the elevation of Mount Everest or current movies running at local theaters. They are not, however, very good at answering what-if or predictive questions—questions that depend on multiple variables, such as “What influences the stock market?” or “What are the major drivers of environmental stability?” In many cases that shortcoming is not for lack of relevant data. Rather, what’s missing are empirical models of complex processes that influence the behavior and impact of those data elements.
Military commanders responsible for situational awareness and command and control of assets in space know all too well the challenge that comes from the vast size of the space domain. The volume of Earth’s operational space domain is hundreds of thousands times larger than the Earth’s oceans. It contains thousands of objects hurtling at tens of thousands of miles per hour. The scales and speeds in this extreme environment are difficult enough to grasp conceptually, let alone operationally, as is required for commanders overseeing the nation’s increasingly critical space assets.
More than 500,000 pieces of manmade space debris—including spent rocket stages, defunct satellites, and fragments as small as flecks of paint—currently hurtle around the Earth at roughly 17,000 miles per hour. At those speeds, impacts involving even the smallest of those items can damage satellites and spawn chain reactions of collisions, increasing the amount of orbital flotsam and creating “minefields” in space that can remain unpassable for centuries.