Creative Discovery Comes To Search

    September 19, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

It’s probably entirely appropriate that if a supercomputer is going to be set up to strive for creative answers to tough questions, that hardware will consist of Apple Xserve G5s.

At Virginia Tech, the System X supercomputer consists of a cluster of 1,100 of those Apple Xserve G5 machines.

The PhysOrg website reported on how researchers at the school have developed a method of finding answers by combing through seemingly disparate events.

Those researchers call the search capability they’ve created, “Storytelling.” It is a lot more than keyword search, and sounds more like the conceptual search IBM has been working with its UIMA project.

The Storytelling process has been described as finding a “chain of concepts” between specified start and end points.

A researcher on the project described the process:

“The stories are pieced together by analyzing large volumes of text or other data,” said Naren Ramakrishnan, associate professor of computer science at Virginia Tech. “Everyday, there are new research results reported in the literature and there are discoveries waiting to be made by exploring connections.”

“Our minds cannot correlate all available datasets efficiently and with any high degree of confidence without the aid of computational biology,” said Richard Helm, associate professor of biochemistry. “Attempting to find significant correlations within the ocean of online datasets is daunting.

“However, there may be experiments that have been published in the literature that look at particular subsets of a biological process. The storytelling algorithm links distant’ objects by finding these closer connections and drawing them together in a storyline.”

It’s pretty amazing technology at work, and it sounds like they can find answers to questions that are a little deeper than my last web search for Midnight Oil lyrics.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.