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New Research at DARPA

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The primary instigator of the Internet, DARPA, is funding research into future technologies -- including many that have potential to dramatically improve search systems.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was the government agency directly responsible for funding and supporting research that led to the development of the Internet. DARPA´s charter is to prevent technological surprise from harming U.S. national security by sponsoring revolutionary and innovative high-payoff research.

Contrary to the secretive nature of many government agencies, DARPA publishes a fairly detailed summary of current projects it is sponsoring. The DARPA "Fact File" describes these programs, which are "aimed at finding solutions to urgent, difficult, and dangerous threats to U.S. national security, which require an in-depth response beyond that of the Military Services. In particular, these programs are meant to counter asymmetric and transnational threats, such as terrorist, biological warfare, or information attacks, and maintain unhindered U.S. access to space."

While descriptions of all of these programs make fascinating reading, the fruits of some of these programs may very well find their way into search technologies in the future. For example:

- Information Awareness: The DARPA Information Awareness Office (IAO) is developing technology that will promote sharing, collaborating, and reasoning to convert nebulous data to knowledge and actionable options. Some of this work involves projects working on Real-time learning, pattern-matching, and anomalous pattern detection; human network analysis and behavior model building engines; event prediction and capability development model building engines; and change detection.

- Project Genoa: A "thematic" search engine called "Athens" that complements traditional search engines by allowing users to find nuggets of information in large collections of documents without having to construct a complicated query, and breaks up result pages into chunks of relevant information.

- The Genisys program: This project will produce technology for an ultra-large, all-source information repository. "Current database technology is clearly insufficient to address the need to integrate all relevant existing databases and semi-structured information sources, to automatically populate the new repository with many different and non-traditional data-feeds, and to enable the easy creation of new information systems, which today exist only in manual form."

In other words -- a potential solution one of the major problems responsible for the phenomenon of the Invisible Web!

These are just a few of the fascinating projects described in the DARPA fact file. Spend some time reading through the others and you'll get a good feel for some of the emerging technologies we can expect to see over the next decade or so that will lead to a greatly enhanced search experience.

DARPA Fact File
http://www.darpa.mil/body/NewsItems/darpa_fact.html
This document provides short summaries of selected DARPA programs in FY 2002 and FY 2003, and it is intended as a ready reference for those interested in DARPA's research portfolio.

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