Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Analytics for Data at Massive Scales

Extracting information from large data sets

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Over the last 15 years, the U.S. military has increasingly been called upon to face complex operational environments (OE) and diverse enemies. Such complex OEs require the actions of U.S. forces and host-nation or coalition partners to be based on a common holistic understanding of the OE (e.g., governments, population groups, security forces, and violent non-state actors) and, in particular, the causal dynamics that can manifest as unanticipated and often counter-intuitive outcomes.
Networks within the United States and abroad face increasingly broad-spectrum cyber threats from numerous actors and novel attack vectors. Malicious activity also crosscuts organizational boundaries, as nefarious actors use networks with less protection to pivot into networks containing key assets. Detection of these threats requires adjustments to network and host sensors at machine speed. Additionally, the data required to detect these threats may be distributed across devices and networks. In all of these cases, the threat actors are using technology to perpetrate their attacks and hide their activities and movement, both physical and virtual, inside DoD, commercial, and Internet Access Provider (IAP) networks.
Understanding the complex and increasingly data-intensive world around us relies on the construction of robust empirical models, i.e., representations of real, complex systems that enable decision makers to predict behaviors and answer “what-if” questions. Today, construction of complex empirical models is largely a manual process requiring a team of subject matter experts and data scientists.
Department of Defense (DoD) operators and analysts collect and process copious amounts of data from a wide range of sources to create and assess plans and execute missions. However, depending on context, much of the information that could support DoD missions may be implicit rather than explicitly expressed. Having the capability to automatically extract operationally relevant information that is only referenced indirectly would greatly assist analysts in efficiently processing data.
As a result of combat exposure, warfighters may return home from deployments with psychological health challenges and find it difficult to reconnect with family and society at large. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs’ National Center for PTSD, studies show that between 12 and 25 percent of military personnel who had returned from Afghanistan and Iraq as of 2008 may suffer from PTSD. (1) Despite best efforts to improve awareness and care, additional studies reveal that only a small fraction of warfighters seek help dealing with psychological health issues.