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IARPA contract to study new ways to forecast critical societal events

University and industry scientists are determining how to forecast significant societal events, ranging from violent protests to nationwide credit-rate crashes, by analyzing the billions of pieces of information in the ocean of public communications, such as tweets, web queries, oil prices, and daily stock market activity.

“We are automating the generation of alerts, so that intelligence analysts can focus on interpreting the discoveries rather than on the mechanics of integrating information,” said Naren Ramakrishnan, the Thomas L. Phillips Professor of Engineering in the computer science department at Virginia Tech. He is leading the team of computer scientists and subject-matter experts from Virginia Tech, the University of Maryland, Cornell University, Children’s Hospital of Boston, San Diego State University, University of California at San Diego, and Indiana University, and from the companies, CACI International Inc., and Basis Technology.

CNetS Professors Bollen and Rocha from the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University are members of this project. Prof. Bollen, has devised a way to evaluate the tone of tweets – calm, alert, vital, etc. — to predict stock market trends. Prof. Rocha, has developed bio-inspired methods to predict associations in biochemical, social, and knowledge networks, including web and e-mail systems.

Additional details: Researchers study new ways to forecast critical societal events.