DARPA does Big Data in a big way

DARPA maintains everything from security to cloud computing programs that utilize big data

As part of the Federal Government's Big Data Extravaganza, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) detailed some of its programs the agency says could benefit from the $200 million research program announced today by President Obama. The Big Data Research and Development Initiative is expected to bolster the tools and techniques needed to access, organize, and glean discoveries from huge volumes of digital data.

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DARPA's big data programs include:

  • The Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales (ADAMS) program looks at the problem of anomaly-detection and characterization in massive data sets. In this context, anomalies in data are intended to cue collection of additional, actionable information in a wide variety of real-world contexts. The initial ADAMS application domain is insider-threat detection, in which anomalous actions by an individual are detected against a background of routine network activity.
  • The Cyber-Insider Threat (CINDER) program seeks to develop novel approaches to detect activities consistent with cyber espionage in military computer networks. As a means to expose hidden operations, CINDER will apply various models of adversary missions to "normal" activity on internal networks. CINDER also aims to increase the accuracy, rate and speed with which cyber threats are detected.
  • The Insight program addresses key shortfalls in current intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. Automation and integrated human-machine reasoning enable operators to analyze greater numbers of potential threats ahead of time-sensitive situations. The Insight program aims to develop a resource-management system to automatically identify threat networks and irregular warfare operations through the analysis of information from imaging and non-imaging sensors and other sources.
  • The Machine Reading program seeks to realize artificial intelligence applications by developing learning systems that process natural text and insert the resulting semantic representation into a knowledge base rather than relying on expensive and time-consuming current processes for knowledge representation require expert and associated knowledge engineers to hand craft information.
  • The Mind's Eye program seeks to develop a capability for "visual intelligence" in machines. Whereas traditional study of machine vision has made progress in recognizing a wide range of objects and their properties-what might be thought of as the nouns in the description of a scene-Mind's Eye seeks to add the perceptual and cognitive underpinnings needed for recognizing and reasoning about the verbs in those scenes. Together, these technologies could enable a more complete visual narrative.
  • The Mission-oriented Resilient Clouds program aims to address security challenges inherent in cloud computing by developing technologies to detect, diagnose and respond to attacks, effectively building a "community health system" for the cloud. The program also aims to develop technologies to enable cloud applications and infrastructure to continue functioning while under attack. The loss of individual hosts and tasks within the cloud ensemble would be allowable as long as overall mission effectiveness was preserved.
  • The Programming Computation on Encrypted Data (PROCEED) research effort seeks to overcome a major challenge for information security in cloud-computing environments by developing practical methods and associated modern programming languages for computation on data that remains encrypted the entire time it is in use. By manipulating encrypted data without first decrypting it, adversaries would have a more difficult time intercepting data.
  • The Video and Image Retrieval and Analysis Tool (VIRAT) program aims to develop a system to provide military imagery analysts with the capability to exploit the vast amount of overhead video content being collected. If successful, VIRAT will enable analysts to establish alerts for activities and events of interest as they occur. VIRAT also seeks to develop tools that would enable analysts to rapidly retrieve, with high precision and recall, video content from extremely large video libraries.
  • The XDATA program seeks to develop computational techniques and software tools for analyzing large volumes of semi-structured and unstructured data. Central challenges to be addressed include scalable algorithms for processing imperfect data in distributed data stores and effective human-computer interaction tools that are rapidly customizable to facilitate visual reasoning for diverse missions. The program envisions open source software toolkits for flexible software development that enable processing of large volumes of data for use in targeted defense applications.

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