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Challenges of ‘big data’ subject of UB workshop


Published April 11, 2013

According to IBM, human beings produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day and 90 percent of the data in the world today was created in the past two years. Sensors gather it from everywhere: social media sites, digital pictures and videos, security data, commercial transaction records, research in every field, cell phone GPS signals, military communications and email records, to name a few.

The result is the proliferation of “big data”—enormous data sets that most relational database management systems (Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, etc.) find difficult, if not impossible, to process because they require massively parallel software running on tens, hundreds or even thousands of servers.

“Ontologies for Information Integration” (OI2), an April 18 workshop at UB, will address nontraditional solutions to the problem of capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, analysis and visualization of big data in order to improve the interoperability of U.S. government information.

It will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in UB’s New York State Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, 701 Ellicott St., Buffalo.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required by emailing or calling Jillian Pugliese at or at 204-5217. The full program, speaker bios and workshop updates are available on the website of the National Center for Ontological Research (NCOR) at UB, which is hosting the workshop. .

The event will be of particular interest to ontologists, the intelligence and military communities, data analysts and information architects interested in awareness of and collaboration between ontology-sharing efforts in the era of big data.

“The age of information extraction, processing and analysis has begun its return to the free-text, unstructured forms that prevailed until 30 years ago,” says Dale Walsh, who will speak at the workshop.

“What has accelerated,” Walsh says, “is the quantity and breadth of the information, and our desire to reason over its internal interconnections. For modern goals to be achieved, a level of semantic analysis must be developed, which will need to be rooted in the use of adaptable and flexible ontological contexts.”

The workshop will be hosted by NCOR and CUBRC Inc., which researches, develops and tests systems-integration programs. It is being organized by Barry Smith, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the UB Department of Philosophy and director of NCOR, and Ron Rudnicki, senior research scientist at CUBRC. The workshop will include presentations by leading figures in ontology and military information sharing, among them:

  • Keynote speaker: Leo J. Obrst, principal AI scientist at the MITRE Corporation: “Why Ontologies? A Perspective from Military Intelligence”
  • Keynote speaker: Gerard Christman, program manager, Office of the Secretary of Defense: “Horizontal Integration of Civil Information”

Discussion of ongoing projects will be presented by:

  • Col. Ronen Cohen, former director of the terror desk in the Directorate of Military Intelligence, former head of Terrorism Arena and deputy head of the production division of the Israel Defense Forces’ Military Intelligence Directorate: “Terror and Intelligence Ontologies”
  • Barry Smith, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Julian Park Chair of Philosophy: “The Role of Ontology in the Era of Big (Military) Data”

Also presenting their work and research in the field will be a number of panelists who will discuss ontology and data fusion, and the challenges facing “big ontology” in relation to both technical coordination and ontology governance. Panelists who will address the ways in which ontologies are being developed to address information-integration needs of large government projects in areas such as civil information and air traffic control are:

  • Dale A. Walsh, principal scientist at the MITRE Corporation and Army Intel Fusion SME (subject matter expert)
  • Moises Sudit, managing director, Center for Multisource Information Fusion, CUBRC Inc., and professor, UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • James Llinas, research professor of industrial and systems engineering, UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Ron Rudnicki, adjunct instructor in the UB Department of Library and Information Studies, Graduate School of Education, will host a panel discussion on “Ontology and Data Fusion”
  • Lt. Col. William S. Mandrick, senior ontologist for Data Tactics Corporation
  • Tatiana Malyuta, associate professor, New York City College of Technology, City University of New York
  • Lowell Vizenor, semantic technology practice lead, ALION Science and Technology

The workshop also will review the work of the Distributed Development of a Shared Semantic Resource (DDSSR) initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD).