Rutgers will lead DHS-financed info research

The Homeland Security Department has awarded Rutgers University a $3 million grant to lead research on identifying patterns and relationships in public information sources to better detect possible terrorist activity.

Rutgers will lead a consortium of industry and academic research labs that will develop the new technologies, specifically to find patterns and relationships in news stories, blogs and other sources. They will also look for ways to rate the consistency and reliability of the sources.

One challenge is the huge amount of information that the technologies will need to handle, said Fred Roberts, director of Rutgers’ Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science. Another one is dealing with the rapidly arriving and changing information.

One of the goals of the consortium will be to develop real-time streaming algorithms to track information and detect patterns and relationships even among writers who try to hide their identities, he said.

Other members of the consortium include researchers from AT&T Laboratories, Lucent Technologies Bell Labs, Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Texas Southern University.

DHS expects to award a total of $10.2 million in three years to a team of four university-based research centers, all doing similar pattern-recognition work, for which Rutgers will be the coordinator. The other three centers will be based at the University of Southern California, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Rutgers expects to take on nine separate research projects in its first year. The university will also develop educational programs at the undergraduate and graduate level based on the emerging technology. It will also lead outreach efforts to high schools and community groups.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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