The EMBERS project, sponsored by IARPA was featured in a major spread of the Virginia Tech Magazine.

Through the use of big data, Naren Ramakrishnan and his team from the computer science department’s Discovery Analytics Center (DAC) may make forecasting the future as commonplace as forecasting the weather.

The term “big data” refers to the use of algorithms and other tools to train computers to spot trends in collections of information that are too massive and complex to analyze with traditional methods. The proliferation of data has accelerated with the integration of computers into our daily lives, from social media on our phones to tracking buying habits at the grocery store.

Virginia Tech’s efforts stand at the forefront of the big data movement, with labs and professors across the commonwealth conducting increasingly data-driven research as the university looks to build additional capacity for future initiatives. Maintaining a strong presence in Blacksburg as well as in the National Capital Region allows for significant collaborations in the domains of intelligence analysis, national security, and health informatics.

“To Virginia Tech’s researchers, big data represents an important opportunity to create knowledge and provide insight by leveraging large, potentially unstructured data sets,” said Scott Midkiff, the university’s vice president for information technology and chief information officer and a professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Projects like DAC’s EMBERS and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute’s (VBI) Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory (NDSSL), which simulates disasters to evaluate emergency response and disaster preparedness policies, are telling examples of big data’s potential. Read more.