Lawrence Livermore explores the shape of data, expanding query-free analytics
- By William Jackson
- Jan 09, 2014
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is taking advantage of
federally funded research into topological data analysis (TDA) to find
new ways of extracting and using information from data sets that are too
large and complex to yield to traditional analytical techniques.
The lab is collaborating with Ayasdi Inc., a commercial spin-off from
research at Stanford University that is funded through the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation.
Ayasdi’s Insight Discovery platform is a software suite already being
used by private- and public-sector organizations, including the
intelligence community, to glean insights from large and varied data
“Big data challenges are a part of our mission,” said Anantha Krishnan,
director of the lab’s Office of Mission Innovation.
The lab uses high-performance computing for modeling and simulation
in areas of energy, climate change, biological defense and national
security. “For many years the lab has had to rely on homegrown
technology,” Krishnan said. “We have developed our own set of data
analysis tools and modeling and simulation tools.”
But the lab also is looking at commercial tools that have emerged as
big data has become a mainstream subject in IT. “Our sense is that
topological data analysis could be a big contributor to the things we
do,” Krishnan said.
Topology is a branch of mathematics dating to the 18th century that
studies shapes. In the 21st century it has been expanded to apply to
problems beyond physical shapes and surfaces to include the very large
and high-dimensional data sets that constitute what is called big data.
Data has shape, and shape has meaning, said Krishnan. The lab’s work
with Ayasdi, announced in November, is an effort to extract that
“We are going through the evaluation phase now,” said Krishnan. “Our
hope is that in the next few months the value will become clear.” The
challenge in working with big data is not just volume. Big data is more
than small data made large, said Ben Mann, Ayasdi’s vice president of
federal operations. “Big data, done right, is completely different.”
Read more at http://gcn.com/articles/2014/01/09/topographical-data-analysis.aspx