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GCN : February 2013
28 GCN FEBRUARY 2013 • GCN.COM The Energy Department's Oak Ridge National Lab- oratory has pioneered an approach to text analytics that uses software agents distrib- uted over very large computer clusters that can quickly filter volumes of documents, show relationships between them and present relevent results to gov- ernment and business analysts. The software, called Pira- nha, is designed to overcome challenges most people face at- tempting to derive accurate and relevant information as they sift through large amounts of data on their computers. Piranha works faster than traditional ap- proaches by clustering massive amounts of textual information in relatively short amounts of time, due to the scalability of the agent architecture, ORNL officials said. ORNL's Computational Data Analytics Group has been work- ing on the system for almost nine years, said Thomas Potok, senior scientist and leader of the Computational Data Ana- lytics Group at the Energy De- partment's Oak Ridge lab. "We are able to take pretty large col- lections of text, go through and group them, cluster them and show people things of interest and significance," he said. Text analytics has been at- tracting the attention of public sector agencies that deal with large amounts of unstructured data, such as NASA's analysis of airline safety reports and a Homeland Security Depart- ment-funded bio-preparedness collective. Typical users of Piranha might be law enforcement agen- cies or military analysts, health care workers or anyone who has a large collection of text docu- ments and needs help figuring out what they have, Potok said. At one time, researchers or investigators might have a hun- dred documents to read, going through each document one by one on a computer. Now re- searchers might have to find patterns among millions of doc- uments. ORNL, in fact, is work- ing with a law enforcement agency, helping investigators GOAL: Create a system that identifies similarities and dissimalari- ties from very large amounts of text and unstructured data. TACTICS: Use highly scalable agent architecture that helps cluster mas- sive amounts of textual information in relatively short time. WISH LIST: Agencies could deploy Piranha across a cluster of computers or a supercomputer to spot common themes within text that could point to early signs of a disaster or terrorist attack. AT-A-GLANCE: OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LAB'S PIRANHA TEXT TOOL Oak Ridge National Lab pioneers approach to text analytics using software agents distributed over large computer clusters to filter millions of documents. DOE'S PIRANHA PUTS TEETH INTO TEXT ANALYSIS BIG DATA CASE STUDY BY RUTRELL YASIN