Raytheon BBN gets $81M to build huge network research center

Raytheon BBN to be aggregation point for all things network research related

Looking to be a one-stop-shop for network science research, Raytheon BBN Technologies this week was awarded an $81 million contract by the Army Research Laboratory to build what the company, which is involved in myriad network research projects for the military, called the largest communications lab in the country. 

With the five-year contract, the company will take on research in network science to identify diverse network similarities, the company said. Called the ARL Network Science Collaborative Technology Alliance, the consortium will examine communication, information, and social and cognitive networks and will include leading researchers from all of these disciplines. 

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Raytheon BBN Technologies will lead the ARL, which will aggregate more than 30 university and industrial labs, from an Interdisciplinary Research Center (IRC) to be established at the Raytheon BBN headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. 

According to the company it will conduct what it calls pure network science research but the IRC will be a pipeline for new technologies for the Department of Defense as it looks to develop ever-more complex and secure networks. 

Raytheon BBN is involved in all manner of network design work for private and military communications already. 

For example, in October BBN gave out $11.5 million worth of National Science Foundation grants to 33 research teams to help develop technology for the futuristic network infrastructure project known as GENI. 

The NSF picked BBN to work with the research community to design the Global Environment for Network Innovations or GENI.  Some of the research teams awarded money includes The Renaissance Computing Institute, Duke University, University of California, Davis, The Ohio State University, University of Washington and the University of Illinois.  Others involved in GENI work include AT&T, Cisco, HP, and CA Labs.

BBN says GENI development is unique in that it simultaneously develops and tests research technologies to gain a rapid understating of new technology's impact on the network.  Currently major work involves ways to discover, schedule and manage large-scale network environments and development of optical backbones, disk farms and sensor networks. BBN said it expects the first prototypes to be up and running in about a year. 

In September BBN got almost $11 million to help build self-configuring network technology that would identify traffic, let the network infrastructure prioritize it down to the end user, reallocate bandwidth between users or classes of users, and automatically make quality of service decisions. 

The advance network technology is being developed by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and will include support for features like 32 levels of network traffic prioritization that will let data with a higher priority will be handled more expeditiously than traffic with a lower priority.

Last year BBN got $.4.4 million to develop novel, scalable attack detection algorithms.  The network monitoring systems is being developed under DARPA's Scalable Network Monitoring program which seeks to bolt down network security in the face of cyber attacks that have grown more subtle and sophisticated. New technologies and applications provide new attack routes and have made traditional signature-based and anomaly detection-based defensive measures inadequate in both speed and sensitivity, BBN added. 

The company has also grabbed over $30 million from DARPA over the past few years to fill out the agency's Global Autonomous Language Exploitation (GALE) program.  The goal of GALE is to translate and distill foreign language material (television shows and newspapers) in near real-time, highlight salient information, and store the results in a searchable database -- all with more than 90% accuracy by the end of the program. Through this process, GALE would help U.S. analysts recognize critical information in foreign languages quickly so they could act on it in a timely fashion.

BBN Raytheon is also developing a an artificial intelligence system that can read, learn and develop knowledge about all manner of digital material in a quick, cost effective way In June it got $29.7 million from the Air Force to develop a prototype machine reading system that transforms prose into knowledge that can be interpreted by an artificial intelligence application. 

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