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U Illinois Grant To Tame Unstructured Data for Research

The Andrew Mellon Foundation last week awarded $1.2 million grant to the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to help find ways to solve the so-called "80 percent problem."

The challenge of the problem is developing tools to access the 80 percent of all information that is unstructured, not residing in easily accessible computer formats, or is open source-based or not secret.

The grant, which will be shared with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, will build on NCSA's D2K software--which analyzes data in a variety of research and business domains--and IBM's Unstructured Information Management Architecture.

The goal is development of what the researchers call a Software Environment for the Advancement of Scholarly Research (SEASR), which will help bridge unstructured and structured data.
"There are trillions and trillions of bytes of data available, but the collections are dispersed and finding the relevant material is time consuming," said Michael Welge, the principal investigator on the project. "Someone who wants to research 19th century novels or the work of Cervantes has a wealth of information available to them, but without tools to help them they'll spend a long time searching that haystack for their particular needle."

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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