Pitt awarded $2.4 million by U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop computing technology

Researchers will create methods to analyze text for potential threats

The University of Pittsburgh will receive $2.4 million over the next three years from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop accurate and robust techniques for extracting, summarizing, and tracking information about events and beliefs from free text.

Pitt is one of four University Affiliate Centers (UACs) selected by DHS to conduct research on advanced methods for information analysis and to develop computational technologies that contribute to securing the homeland. The other recipients are Rutgers University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Southern California. The other members of the Pitt UAC are Cornell University and the University of Utah.

"The goals of the work will be to identify facts and entities, as well as beliefs and motivations, expressed in text, and to create new methods for linking events and beliefs across documents, and tracking them over time," said Pitt computer science professor and lead researcher Janyce Wiebe.

The UACs and their partners will collaborate with the Institute for Discrete Sciences (IDS), a joint project between DHS and several National Laboratories, led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The discrete sciences apply the methods of discrete, or finite, mathematics to computer science. Their focus is developing simpler, more efficient software algorithms and architectures for use in a broad range of computing applications.

Their work will advance efforts to identify common patterns from numerous sources of information, which may be indicative of potential threats to the nation. The centers will also focus on an area identified by Congress for DHS university-based research.

"This effort will bring together an outstanding group of researchers with a proven track record in information analysis," said Jeffrey W. Runge, Acting Under Secretary for Science and Technology (S&T). "The biggest challenge facing this critical area is the need for improved methods to quickly and accurately analyze, organize, and make sense of vast amounts of changing data."

The University Affiliate Centers to IDS are part of the DHS Research and Education Centers program, overseen by the Office of University Programs, within S&T. Established by Congress, this program has created an integrated network of centers at the nation's leading research universities, which will help to continually align scientific results with homeland security priorities.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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