Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Navigating the e-mail labyrinth

11.06.2003


Who’s in the loop?Visualization shows relationships between correspondents.


E-mail Affinities: Software groups and color codes messages by authors and overlap of subject matter, ascertained by analysis of the text.


Researchers at the University of Southern California have created a new tool for organizing and visualizing collections of electronic mail. It is designed to help legal researchers, historians, archivists, and others faced with challenges in dealing with large email archives.

For examples, consider the following cases:

* A large corporation has just received a subpoena for all email messages on a specific question. Traditional keyword searches return an enormous volume of mail that must be scanned by lawyers and paralegals for applicability. In the same way, the recipients of the subpoenaed data must analyze it. Can this process be sped up and made more efficient?



* A historian is analyzing the history of a government decision, using an email archive. Reading all the text gives a great deal of information about the decision, but only careful notes can keep track of such events as shifts over time in the distribution of information, and even then subtle changes are hard to catch. Can software help?

* A library has just received a donation of a famous scientist’s email correspondence. Besides just a simple listing of titles, addresses, and dates, is there a way that the information in the archive can be made more immediately useful and comprehensible to users?

Anton Leuski of the USC School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute will demonstrate a system deisgned to speak to such problems July 30 at the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group conference on Information Retrieval, in Toronto, Ontario.

Called "eArchivarius," Leuski’s system uses sophisticated search software developed for Internet search engines like Google to detect important relationships between messages and people by taking advantage of inherent clues that exist in email collections.

It then automatically creates a vivid and intuitive visual interface, using spheres grouped in space to represent the relationships it discovers.

The display, a system called "Lighthouse" created earlier by Leuski and co-workers, can shuffle the connections to bring different elements to the fore.

In one display configuration, each sphere represents an author in the system. The spheres are visualized in a two- or three-dimensional space in which the distance between them indicates the number of messages exchanged over a given period.

For one collection used as an experimental exercise, exchanges of email among Reagan administration national security officials, this visualization immediately shows some recipients closely packed toward the center with their most frequent correspondents into a tight cluster, while others can immediately be seen to be literally out of the loop, far out on the periphery.

The spheres representing people can also be arranged under the influence of other factors: the content of the authored messages, for example. The resulting configuration shows existing communities of people who converse on the same topic and the relationships among those communities.

Selecting any email recipient can open up another window, which provides a list of all the people with whom the selected person exchanged mail, and a time-graphed record that shows when the exchanges took place.

"For a historian trying to understand the process by which a decision was made over a course of months, this kind of access will be extremely valuable," said Leuski, a research associate at ISI.

And the same interface can instantly return and display individual pieces of mail in the form of hypertext pages with links to the people who sent and received the email and with links to similar email messages.

"Similar messages" can be defined in terms of recipients, text keywords, or both, and in the display produced using this capability; the spheres are the messages themselves, closer to messages similar in (for example) audience. The spheres can also be colored to show other relationships. Topic similarity, for example -- the likelihood of a message to be about a particular topic can be shown by more or less intense color. Different colors indicate different topics creating a map of how the information is distributed among the messages.

"What we have in effect is a four dimensional display, with color added to the three spatial dimensions," said Douglas Oard, an associate professor of computer science from University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies and its Institute for Advanced Computer Studies who is working at ISI during a sabbatical year.

Leuski and Oard have demonstrated the ability to find interesting patterns in collections as small as a few hundred emails, and the techniques they have developed are now being applied to thousands of emails sent and received by a single individual over 18 years. Scaling up to process millions of emails involving thousands of people will be the next challenge.

The elements of eArchivarius flexible and highly useful interface, Oard says, may someday find their way into email client software.

"Email has become a major element of modern life, and the raw material of history," said Oard. "We believe that eArchivarius offers a way into the email labyrinth for researchers of all kinds."



Eric Mankin | USC
Further information:
http://www.usc.edu/isinews/stories/91.html
http://www.isi.edu/~leuski/earchivarius/

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht On patrol in social networks
25.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht Tile Based DASH Streaming for Virtual Reality with HEVC from Fraunhofer HHI
03.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik Heinrich-Hertz-Institut

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>