Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ad hoc encyclopaedia for the information age

16.04.2008
Linking communities and information into a virtual digital library is the 21st century version of the Dictionaire Raisonneé. Better, they can be organised around specific topics, creating vast repositories and networks of experts around a single problem. Best of all, it can be done on demand.

In 1750, Denis Diderot convinced his publisher to support a vast enterprise, the publication of the Encyclopédie gathering all knowledge into one location.

Dozens of writers worked on thousands of articles for more than 15 years to produce the first summary of all human knowledge and, despite the labour and pains of its birth, its entire contents would barely fill one volume of a contemporary encyclopaedia.

Times have changed. And they keep on changing. The pace of discovery in the modern world is such that it is difficult for specialists to stay abreast of their own field let alone be aware of the knowledge in all other fields that may impact on their specialty.

The internet, though useful, makes us aware of our ignorance. It does not reliably fill the gap with relevant and timely information. As an information society, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see the trees for the wood.

“There’s a trend in digital libraries now towards combining heterogeneous data from a wide variety of sources. This includes textual, multimedia objects and, increasingly, sensor and experimental data, or raw data that needs to be processed,” explains Donatella Castelli, scientific coordinator of the Diligent project.

Raw data allows virtual digital library (VDL) users to formulate questions that may not have been considered before. But this quantity of data poses huge processing challenges requiring digital libraries to have enormous resources, resources that are not readily available for many institutions.

The virtual digital library
But not, perhaps, for too much longer. Diligent sought to create a test bed to prove the viability of VDL infrastructure on grid-enabled technology. It would behave a little like a wiki, a Hawaiian word that means quick. Like Wikipedia – the world’s most famous wiki – a VDL on grids could allow the creation of vast online data repositories from distributed computing sources.

But unlike wikis, Diligent created a system that combines digital libraries with grid computing to provide storage, content retrieval and access services and, most impressively, shared data processing capabilities.

Grids link many computers together to provide a framework for shared processing and storage capabilities. So a grid can take a big, processing-intense problem, like weather prediction, and split the problem between a handful, dozens or even thousands of computers. Each only handles a tiny bit or the problem, but combined they provide a huge amount of raw power.

The power of grids is well established, and all that raw data crunching gives physicists and molecular biologists goose bumps. It is the power behind the SETI@home project, which uses volunteers’ computers to analyse cosmic signals in the search for extraterrestrial life.

But grids have never been used for virtual digital libraries, a library that exists only by the combination of data across cyberspace. It is an exciting new use of the technology. But it is not a trivial problem.

“It was very, very difficult,” reveals Castelli. “There was a lot of new technology to learn [and] many of the tools we needed were only being defined as we worked on the project.”

A better mousetrap
It is like inventing a better mousetrap, but the tools to do the job are only being developed as you hop impatiently from foot-to-foot, waiting for them. Then the tools get changed and you need to go back and reinvent your mousetrap.

But the hard work paid off. Diligent created an infrastructure – a system called g-Cube – and two VDLs to validate how it all works; one among the ‘Earth Observation’ community, the other in the Cultural Heritage community. It was a resounding success, and now these research communities have VDLs on grids serving their own needs. These are very impressive results and strain the definition of test bed as Diligent literally pushed the available technology to the limit and still came up with a working infrastructure.

They even developed advanced interface tools to set up a VDL. “We have a wizard to set up VDLs and it is very easy to use,” notes Castelli.

Nonetheless, work remains to be done. “The system needs to be optimised to improve its quality of service. We need to develop a production infrastructure and deal with issues like real infrastructure policies. We’ve started a new project called D4Science, and we’ll be working with the Earth Observation and the Fishery and Aquaculture Resource Management Research communities”, says Castelli.

Diderot’s pride
Diligent has many fine achievements and prompted the interests of a wide range of groups that could usefully share resources. But the real power of the project is the enormous opportunities for fruitful collaboration that their tools will enable in the future.

Scientists, engineers, policy-makers, NGOs and other experts or stakeholders will be able to come together on an ad hoc basis to brainstorm and share relevant data around specific problems, such as disaster relief, fuel efficiency, or even apparently routine tasks like organising a conference.

Diderot, the patron of vast collaborations around a great, hugely ambitious goal, would be proud.

Ahmed ElAmin | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/89660

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Marine Skin dives deeper for better monitoring
23.04.2019 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

nachricht CubeSats prove their worth for scientific missions
17.04.2019 | American Physical Society

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Full speed ahead for SmartEEs at Automotive Interiors Expo 2019

Flexible, organic and printed electronics conquer everyday life. The forecasts for growth promise increasing markets and opportunities for the industry. In Europe, top institutions and companies are engaged in research and further development of these technologies for tomorrow's markets and applications. However, access by SMEs is difficult. The European project SmartEEs - Smart Emerging Electronics Servicing works on the establishment of a European innovation network, which supports both the access to competences as well as the support of the enterprises with the assumption of innovations and the progress up to the commercialization.

It surrounds us and almost unconsciously accompanies us through everyday life - printed electronics. It starts with smart labels or RFID tags in clothing, we...

Im Focus: Energy-saving new LED phosphor

The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, but less sensitive to blue and red. Chemists led by Hubert Huppertz at the University of Innsbruck have now developed a new red phosphor whose light is well perceived by the eye. This increases the light yield of white LEDs by around one sixth, which can significantly improve the energy efficiency of lighting systems.

Light emitting diodes or LEDs are only able to produce light of a certain colour. However, white light can be created using different colour mixing processes.

Im Focus: Quantum gas turns supersolid

Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.

Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

High-efficiency thermoelectric materials: New insights into tin selenide

25.04.2019 | Materials Sciences

Salish seafloor mapping identifies earthquake and tsunami risks

25.04.2019 | Earth Sciences

Using DNA templates to harness the sun's energy

25.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>