Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Software to bring order to information chaos

02.03.2006


A new software system that enables faster and more comprehensive analysis of vast quantities of information is so effective that it not only creates order out of chaos and allows computers to perform tasks that before only people could perform, it is also creating new information from old data.



"Our greatest contribution was to create a framework for integrating structured and unstructured information," says Dr Babis Theodoulidis, Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester’s Institute of Science and Technology and coordinator of the IST-funded PARMENIDES project behind these tools.

Currently, the vast majority of information is unstructured text, like reports, newspaper articles, letters, memos, essentially any information that is not part of a database.


"Analysing text requires human intervention and, when you are trying to analyse perhaps thousands of documents in many different languages, really large scale text analyses becomes very expensive, or even impossible," says Theodoulidis.

Structured information is found only in databases, like customer management software, personnel files, library catalogues, and any information that is organised by specific fields of data, such as name, address and so on.

"Analysing structured data is not new. Analysing unstructured information using computers is only a recent development, but integrating and analysing the combined data has never been done before. Our framework makes that possible," says Theodoulidis.

Practical applications

It means that, once the appropriate priming and tuning is completed, a computer can analyse a given text and put it into context. "For example, a company might get a letter of complaint and then an employee needs to read and forward it to the right person," says Theodoulidis. "But in our system the letter is ’read’ by a computer, which then links the letter to the company’s personnel database and forwards the letter to the right person."

The Greek Ministry of Defence (MoD) used the PARMENIDES system to analyse large quantities of unstructured data, like newspaper reports about terrorist attacks, and then combine that with military intelligence. This type of analysis could reveal that one group is changing its methods from car bombs to suicide bombs or chemical attacks. Or that one group is beginning to work with another.

"We got our greatest result with the MoD. Before PARMENIDES, they analysed all their unstructured data manually, essentially people reading articles. Now that’s almost entirely automatic," says Theodoulidis.

But PARMENIDES’ framework does not just provide a snapshot analysis, it can analyse data over time, too, enabling the system to spot new trends or developments that would remain hidden otherwise. Healthcare consultant BioVista, for example, combined recruitment and business information to track the shifting research priorities in biotech companies over time.

Furthermore, its method of analysis creates new, hidden information from old data. The work was so successful that BioVista hired two software developers and created its own IT department to develop the technology. "Before that they simply outsourced their IT, but they see a value in this type of system and want to pursue it," says Dr Theodoulidis.

Helping computers understand

The key to the framework is the use of ontologies. They are simply a vocabulary detailing all the significant words for a particular domain, like healthcare or tourism or military intelligence, and the relationship between each word.

PARMENIDES used one ontology to analyse unstructured text, another to analyse databases and a third to unify the two by data sets. So while a newspaper might talk of a ’terrorist’ or ’bomber’, a military database might use the terms ’hostile’ or ’enemy agent’ or specific names. Each data type has its own ontology for the context.

The group also developed tools to enable the semi-automatic creation of those ontologies. "For example, if you give the system many, many samples of the type of information you want to analyse it will produce a provisional ontology, which users can adjust to create a definitive ontology," says Theodoulidis.

For the future the group is pursuing a joint venture with BioVista to develop aspects of the framework further. Separately it is working with IBM, BioVista and the Greek MoD to make the system more robust and refined.

"I’d also like to develop this technology to work on a Grid-based architecture," says Theodoulidis. "That would, in many ways, be its ideal environment." And it would create the opportunity to develop even more novel tools for analysing data to bring order and clarity to chaos and confusion.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/80902

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Japanese researchers develop ultrathin, highly elastic skin display
19.02.2018 | University of Tokyo

nachricht Why bees soared and slime flopped as inspirations for systems engineering
19.02.2018 | Georgia Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering

Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>