Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Here there be data: Mapping the landscape of science

07.04.2004


In ancient maps of the world, expanses of unknown territory might hold a warning to would-be explorers: Here there be monsters. For today’s explorers seeking to navigate and understand the world of science, the monsters are the untamed collections of data that inhabit a largely uncharted landscape.

The April 6, 2004, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) features nearly 20 articles by some of tomorrow’s mapmakers. Representing the computer, information and cognitive sciences, mathematics, geography, psychology and other fields, these researchers present attempts to create maps of science from the ever-growing and constantly evolving ocean of digital data.

"Science is specializing at high speed, which leads to increasing fragmentation and reinvention," said Katy Börner of Indiana University. "Maps of publication databases or other data sources can help show how scientists and scientific results are interconnected."



College students might use such maps to see how well a syllabus covers a field’s major topics, while companies could map out plans for targeting their investments. Funding agencies could keep an eye on research frontiers or forecast how funding decisions might affect a discipline. An online version could provide an effective interface to major databases.

"Ultimately, I’d like to see a map of science in schools, as common as the political world map," Börner said. "’Continents’ would represent the diverse areas of science, and closely related areas would reside on the same continent. Teachers might say, ’Let’s look at the new research frontier in sector F5.’ Students could say, ’My mom works over there.’"

The results featured in PNAS were originally presented at the May 2003 Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium on Mapping Knowledge Domains, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. Organized by Richard Shiffrin and Börner of Indiana University, the colloquium addressed the task of extracting meaningful and relevant information from largely unorganized data collections. "Today, almost all of us access knowledge in ways vastly different from those used for hundreds of years," Shiffrin said. "The traditional method involved books, reference works and physical materials on library shelves, most of which had been verified for accuracy by one or another authority. Now, we sit at computers and cast our net into a sea of information, much of which is inaccurate or misleading."

Authors of 12 of the articles are supported by awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.

Several of the papers describe ways to analyze article collections and map out landscapes that humans can view. Some methods, such as that proposed by Simon Dennis, "read" scientific articles and use a deep understanding of the content as the basis for a map. Other methods use relationship networks between the articles, such as citation of other papers, as the basis for a map.

"Process" models aim to better understand how the structure of scientific networks evolves over time. Filippo Menczer demonstrates that some combination of content and Web links or citation relationships needs to be considered, while Börner, Jeegar Maru and Robert Goldstone consider topics, newness, and linking to show how several such networks might evolve together.

Scientific landscapes might have hundreds of possible dimensions, presenting a challenge in creating two- or three dimensional maps, according to Thomas Landauer and colleagues. Elena Erosheva and colleagues show that computerderived mappings may not correspond to human-assigned categories and that more articles can be considered interdisciplinary than officially indicated by PNAS dual classifications.

Mapping methods must also identify the data-collection analogs of landmarks and borders. For example, Thomas Griffiths and Mark Steyvers found the "hot topics" that cropped up in a 10-year collection of PNAS articles. Similarly, Jonathan Aizen and colleagues describe how spikes in an item’s Web popularity might be useful as timesensitive landmarks.

The borders on these maps mark divisions between related scientific topical areas, groups of collaborators or other clusters that emerge from the data at hand. For example, Paul Ginsparg and colleagues used their method to map the boundaries of an emerging biology-inspired research community within physics.

In his paper, Mark Newman showed that clusters in social networks can also be used to map scientific communities. A scientist may or may not be six degrees from Kevin Bacon, but Newman showed that scientists were about six coauthors away from any other scientist.

However, these borders, like the world’s political boundaries, change over time. John Hopcroft and colleagues devised a method that mapped, across a landscape of 1.8 million computer science articles, the scientific communities that evolved over the course of a decade.

Finally, in a digital landscape with hundreds of possible options for north or south, east or west, drawing a map with which human explorers can navigate from point A to point B presents another set of challenges. Ketan Mane and Börner describe techniques to draw maps that highlight landmarks such as major research topics or trends. Alan MacEachren and colleagues show how techniques from geographic mapmaking might be applied to science landscapes.

"Creating a map for all of science will require large-scale cyberinfrastructure," Börner said. "The endeavor will involve terabytes of data-publications, patents, grants and other databases-scalable software and large amounts of number-crunching power. Such computational effort is common in physics or biology but not in the social sciences. However, maps of science will benefit every field."

The research in the following papers in the April 6 issue of PNAS was supported in whole or in part by awards from the National Science Foundation.
  • Jonathan Aizen, Daniel Huttenlocher, Jon Kleinberg, and Antal Novak. "Traffic-based feedback on the web."
  • Katy Börner, Jeegar T. Maru, and Robert L. Goldstone. "The simultaneous evolution of author and paper networks." · Simon Dennis. "An unsupervised method for the extraction of propositional information from text."
  • Elena Erosheva, Stephen Fienberg, and John Lafferty. "Mixed-membership models of scientific publications."
  • Paul Ginsparg, Paul Houle, Thorsten Joachims, and Jae- Hoon Sul. "Mapping subsets of scholarly information."
  • Thomas L. Griffiths and Mark Steyvers. "Finding scientific topics."
  • John Hopcroft, Omar Khan, Brian Kulis, and Bart Selman. "Tracking evolving communities in large linked networks."
  • Thomas K. Landauer, Darrel Laham, and Marcia Derr. "From paragraph to graph: Latent Semantic Analysis for information visualization."
  • Ketan K. Mane and Katy Börner. "Mapping topics and topic bursts in PNAS."
  • Alan MacEachren, Mark Gahegan and William Pike. "Visualization for constructing and sharing geo-scientific concepts."
  • Fillipo Menczer. "Evolution of document networks."
  • M.E.J. Newman. "Coauthorship networks and patterns of scientific collaboration."

David Hart | NSF
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/media/start.htm
http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/newsroom/pr_all_img.cfm?ni=69

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht High-pressure scientists in Bayreuth discover promising material for information technology
25.02.2020 | Universität Bayreuth

nachricht When plasmons reach atomic flatland
25.02.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: High-pressure scientists in Bayreuth discover promising material for information technology

Researchers at the University of Bayreuth have discovered an unusual material: When cooled down to two degrees Celsius, its crystal structure and electronic properties change abruptly and significantly. In this new state, the distances between iron atoms can be tailored with the help of light beams. This opens up intriguing possibilities for application in the field of information technology. The scientists have presented their discovery in the journal "Angewandte Chemie - International Edition". The new findings are the result of close cooperation with partnering facilities in Augsburg, Dresden, Hamburg, and Moscow.

The material is an unusual form of iron oxide with the formula Fe₅O₆. The researchers produced it at a pressure of 15 gigapascals in a high-pressure laboratory...

Im Focus: From China to the South Pole: Joining forces to solve the neutrino mass puzzle

Study by Mainz physicists indicates that the next generation of neutrino experiments may well find the answer to one of the most pressing issues in neutrino physics

Among the most exciting challenges in modern physics is the identification of the neutrino mass ordering. Physicists from the Cluster of Excellence PRISMA+ at...

Im Focus: Therapies without drugs

Fraunhofer researchers are investigating the potential of microimplants to stimulate nerve cells and treat chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease. Find out what makes this form of treatment so appealing and which challenges the researchers still have to master.

A study by the Robert Koch Institute has found that one in four women will suffer from weak bladders at some point in their lives. Treatments of this condition...

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Turbomachine expander offers efficient, safe strategy for heating, cooling

25.02.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

The seismicity of Mars

25.02.2020 | Earth Sciences

Cancer cachexia: Extracellular ligand helps to prevent muscle loss

25.02.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>