Research

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I am a Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Director of the Center for Digital International Government (CDIG), and Co-Director of the Laboratory for Computational Cultural Dynamics (LCCD) at the University of Maryland. From 2004 to 2010, I was Director of the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) at the University of Maryland. A nontrivial portion of my research can be found on their websites: LCCD, CDIG. My research is at the intersection of databases, artificial intelligence, and optimization methods with applications to tracking, monitoring and forecasting behaviors of terrorist groups, socio-cultural groups, global health care, and other areas relevant to most human beings.

  • In AI, I have worked extensively on rule-based expert systems and logic programs, non-monotonic reasoning, probabilistic reasoning, temporal reasoning, hybrid reasoning, reasoning about inconsistency. abductive reasoning, software agents, and reasoning about natural language/text data.
  • In databases, I have worked extensively on integration of databases, ontology management, multimedia databases, logic databases, and probabilistic databases.
  • In Semantic web reasoning, I have worked on "Resource Description Framework" (RDF) databases and index structures for RDF databases, temporal RDF, extensions of RDF to handle other kinds of graph and social network data.
  • In social networks, I work on developing methods to understand diffusion/infection in networks and methods to identify interesting subgraphs embedded in huge graphs.
  • I enjoy learning about and developing new applications. In recent years, I have worked on the following types of applications.
  • Reasoning about terror groups and cultures. I have worked on the development of techniques for real-time monitoring of terror groups, for representing and learning models of the behaviors of these groups, and for making highly accurate forecasts of their behavior and the circumstances in which they change their behavior.
    • Articles on my work in this area (with my students and colleagues) also appeared in the New Scientist (March 15, 2008), the Washington Post (Feb 16, 2009), Scientific American.com (Nov. 26, 2009), Popular Science (Dec. 11, 2009) and The Economist (Apr. 21, 2012).
    • The popular television crime drama Numb3rs featured my work on Stochastic Opponent Modeling Agents, or SOMA. Video clips are available here and here.
    • Update! Recently, my group learned the first ever behavioral models of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. This work was published by Springer in August 2012 as a book. Read more here.
  • Developing the Worldwide Information System for Education (WISE) that tracks over 4000 variables related to education for over 220 countries worldwide, learns relationships between education outcomes and policies, and will help shape education policies. For more information, see the project website.
  • Global health care. I have developed methods for real-time collection of health care data worldwide, together with information related to early childhood development in developing countries.

I received the NSF National Young Investigator Award in 1993 and the Distinguished Young Scientist Award from the Maryland Science Center/Maryland Academy of Science in 1997. My primary area of research is in databases and artificial intelligence. My work in AI spans rule-based expert systems and logic programs, nonmonotonic reasoning, probabilistic reasoning, temporal reasoning, hybrid reasoning, and software agents. My work in databases focuses on heterogeneous database integration and interoperability, logic databases, probabilistic databases, and multimedia databases. In the last few years, I have been studying how to reason about massive collections of multilingual document collections and mine them for sentiment/opinion information as well as how to mine ontologies directly from text. I have been applying my work to the study of foreign cultures and terrorist groups with a view to automatically extracting data about a group's organization and activities and mining this information in order to build stochastic behavioral models of the group which, in turn, can be used to come up with forecasts of future behavior of the group. See my September 14, 2007 paper in Science magazine on real time cultural reasoning. Articles on my work in this area (with my students and colleagues) also appeared in the New Scientist (March 15, 2008) and the Washington Post (Feb 16, 2009). My group and I have built several scalable systems for these and other purposes which have been applied extensively in government and industrial applications.  

Current or Past Journal Editorial Activities:

  • IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
  • Journal of Parallel and Distributed Databases
  • Annals of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence
  • Journal of Logic Programming
  • Theory and Practice of Logic Programming
  • Multimedia Tools and Applications Journal
  • Fundamenta Informaticae
  • Artificial Intelligence Communications

Recent Awards/Honors:

  • Work with Paulo Shakarian and Maria-Luisa Sapino on combining social-computational science with data mining for national security featured in the journal Nature. See the article in Nature 417, pp. 566-568 (2011), or view project information on SCARE here.
  • Work on virtual worlds and their applications to national security highlighted in an article (link) in Science Magazine, Vol. 326, pages 1201-1202, Nov. 27, 2009.
  • Elected a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) in summer 2009.
  • Elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in late 2008.
  • Work on reasoning about cultures highlighted in an article in Science Magazine, Vol.316, pp. 534-535, April 27, 2007.
  • OASYS Opinion Analysis System wins 2006 ComputerWorld Magazine Horizon Awards for most innovative pre-commercial software of 2006.
  • Selected for inclusion on ISIHighlycited.com, a web site run by Thompson Scientific which lists the 320 most widely sited computer scientists of all time.
  • Listed as one of the top 50 most nurturing computer scientists since 1992 based on citations (#16) and publication count (#35) according to a study by the Indian Institute of Science.
  • Work on the STORY system to automatically generate stories from news sources receives an honorable mention in the 2005 Computerworld Horizon Awards competition.

Current or Past Committee Memberships:

  • Program Chair, Scalable Uncertainty Modeling (SUM) 2007 Conference with H. Prade.
  • Program Chair, ODBASE 2006 with M. Lenzerini and E. Neuhold.
  • Executive Advisory Council, DARPA Advanced Logistics Program (ALP)
  • Ad-hoc Member, US Air Force Science Advisory Board
  • Member, Board of Directors, Development Gateway Foundation
  • Member, Research Advisory Board, Tata Consultancy Services
  • Member, Board of Directors, Sentimetrix Inc.
  • Member, Advisory Board, CosmosID Inc., Bethesda, MD

Recent Invited Talks at Conferences:

  • Invited speaker, Aspen Institute, Jan. 9, 2013, New Delhi, India. Video of talk: YouTube.
  • Invited speaker, the 2013 India Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining Conference, Feb. 2013, Mysore, India.
  • Invited speaker, the AAAI Fall Symposium on Social Networks and Social Contagion, Nov. 2-4, 2012, Washington DC.
  • Keynote speaker, Computer Society of India Annual Convention, Dec. 1-2, 2012 Kolkata, India.
  • Invited talk, Dutch Police Symposium on "Knowledge and Models", Dec. 2012, The Hague.
  • Keynote speaker, Sentiment Analysis Symposium, Oct. 2012, San Francisco, CA.
  • Invited speaker, Workshop on Data Management in the Social Semantic Web (DMSW-12), Istanbul, Turkey, Aug 26-30, 2012.
  • Invited talk, 2011 Italian Database Conference (SEBD 2011), Maratea, Italy, June 2011.
  • Invited talk, 2011 Bar-Ilan Symposium on Foundations of Artificial Intelligence, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, June 2011.
  • Invited talk, Conference on Regional Integration and Human Resources Development in Science and Technology Fields, Kigali, Rwanda, Dec. 8-9, 2010.
  • Invited talk, 2009 Intl. Conf. on Computational Cultural Dynamics, College Park, MD, Dec. 2009.
  • Invited talk, 2009 Intl. Database Engineering & Applications Symposium, Cetraro, Italy, Sep. 2009.
  • Invited lecturer, 2009 GII Doctoral School in Advances in Databases, Cetraro, Italy, Sep. 2009.
  • Keynote address, Proc. 2008 First Intl. Workshop on Social Computing, Behavioral Modeling and Prediction, Phoenix, April 1-2, 2008.
  • Invited talk, Fourth Conference on Mathematical Methods in Counter-terrorism, Rochester, NY, September 20-22, 2007.
  • Invited talk, International Conference on Computational Cultural Dynamics, August 2007.
  • Presented a talk on "Computational Cultural Dynamics" on Capitol Hill, June 14, 2007. The talk was attended by US Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA), Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Jim Sexton (R-NJ), as well as several congressional staff members and others.
  • Keynote Lecture, 2005 International Conference on Ontologies, Databases and Systems (ODBASE 2005), Oct/Nov 2005, Agia Napa, Cyprus

(Some) Recent Media Citations:

  • I was quoted in the print edition of The Economist in an article titled "The Digital Arms Trade," which investigates black markets used to trade computational exploits and hacking tools between criminal organizations. The full article can be read here.
  • Rediff.com from India features our work on Lashkar-e-Taiba in an article titled 'We can now predict future Lashkar attacks' on Sep. 21, 2012. View the article here.
  • The Baltimore Sun featured our research work on Lashkar-e-Taiba in an article titled "UM Researchers Mine Data to Uncover Terrorist Threats" on Sep. 21, 2012.
  • Small Wars Journal featured our research work on Lashkar-e-Taiba in an article published on Sep. 10, 2012.
  • My work on the Temporal-Probabilistic Rule System, which uses large sets of political and social indicators to predict (for example) attacks by the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, was discussed in the print edition of The Economist.
  • The Economist features the SCARE system that uses abductive reasoning to locate IED caches in Iraq.
  • MSNBC.com's CosmicLog features SCARE-S2 technology developed by V.S. Subrahmanian and his research group to find high value targets in Afghanistan and Iraq. View the report here, and more information about SCARE-S2 here.
  • Work on the Worldwide Information System for Education (WISE) was presented at the Conference on Regional Integration and Human Resources Development in Science and Technology Fields, a landmark meeting organized by the Rwandan Ministry of Education and the AAAS. The associated press release can be found here. My presentation slides are available here.
  • My work on Stochastic Opponent Modeling Agent (SOMA) technology was described briefly in an article in The Economist (online: Sept. 2, 2010, print: Sept. 4, 2010). A small correction to the article: SOMA does not track 200 sources, but LCCD's related T-REX and ACE (link) programs jointly do so.
  • The Wall Street Journal included an op-ed article by my Ph.D. student Aaron Mannes and me on "Keeping Tabs on Terrorism". The articles centers on the recent dispute between Research in Motion (the makers of Blackberry) and India on providing access to Blackberry devices for the Indian government to keep tabs on terrorism.
  • The Baltimore Sun ran an article on my work with my PhD student (and US Army Captain) Paulo Shakarian on the SCARE system that uses abductive reasoning to locate IED (improvised explosive device) caches in Iraq. (Minor clarification: The sentences "Certainly it could be used to model the behaviors of large institutional investors," he said. "We could use it to model the behaviors of political organizations." in the second last paragraph of the article did not apply to the SCARE effort, but to the SOMA effort going on in the lab.)
  • My work using SOMA to provide insights into Hezbollah's recent activities was featured in Foreign Policy Magazine. A colloquial explanation of the SOMA system can be found on Fast Company.com.
  • Work on geospatial abduction algorithms and automated methods to detect improvised explosive devices featured in Popular Science magazine (link).
  • Work on virtual worlds in national security covered by over 50 sources including Scientific American.com.
  • Work on Computational Models of terror group behavior described by the Washington Post here.
  • The Kojo Nnamdi show on WAMU 90.9 Public Radio (Washington DC) show focusing on Artificial Intelligence, Nov. 25, 2008.
  • The SOMA Terror Organization Portal (STOP) and social network site for terrorism related analysis and prediction developed by my group was featured in several major news media (Feb. 26). STOP provides methods for reasoning about terror groups and forecasting what they might do in the future. In addition, it contains unique social networking capabilities that allow analysts to effectively cooperate in order to better understand and counteract terror groups. Citations include Washington Post (Feb 16, 2009), Canada AM on Canadian Public Radio (Feb 29, 2008), American Public Media's FutureTense program (Feb 28, 2008) ComputerWorld (this article has some errors in it), UPI News Track Top News, Public Radio and NetworkWorld. At least 40 newspapers around the world carried this story.
  • Danish National Broadcasting covered our work on STOP on Oct. 29, 2008.
  • Security Management Magazine called our work on STOP "pioneering" in coverage in their June 2008 issue.
  • Work on computational cultural dynamics extensively discussed in an op-ed piece in the Manila Sunday Times, Jan. 13, 2008.
  • Featured in the Swiss Public Radio program under "Computerspiel-Designer" (Dec. 8, 2007). This program focused on my work on computational cultural models and its relationship to games.
  • Article in the New York Sun on Nov. 14, 2007 on terrorism and gaming.
  • An article on my work on computational cultural reasoning appeared on the home page of AAAS June 25, 2007.
  • An article on OASYS appeared in Sci.cam, Italy, May 2007.
  • Science Magazine coverage, April 27, 2007 article.
  • RAI-TV (Italy) coverage of OASYS on November 6, 2006
  • Work on OASYS covered by Panorama magazine, September 21, 2006.
  • Work on OASYS covered by ComputerWorld on August 21, 2006.

 

 
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University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies  Institute for System Research
   
Last Updated 10/02/2010