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When Data’s Deep, Dark Places need to be Illuminated

Much of the data of the World Wide Web hides like an iceberg below the surface. The so-called 'deep web' has been estimated to be 500 times bigger than the 'surface web' seen through search engines like Google. For scientists and others, the deep web holds important computer code and its licensing agreements. Nestled further inside the deep web, one finds the 'dark web,' a place where images and video are used by traders in illicit drugs, weapons, and human trafficking. A new data-intensive supercomputer called Wrangler is helping researchers obtain meaningful answers from the hidden data of the public web. The Wrangler supercomputer got its start in response to the question, can a computer be built to handle massive amounts of I/O (input and output)? The National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2013 got behind this effort and awarded the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), Indiana University, and the University of Chicago $11.2 million to build a first-of-its-kind data-intensive supercomputer. Wrangler's 600 terabytes of lightning-fast flash storage enabled the speedy reads and writes of files needed to fly past big data bottlenecks that can slow down even the fastest computers. It was built to work in tandem with number crunchers such as TACC's Stampede, which in 2013 was the sixth fastest computer in the world. While Wrangler was being built, a separate project came together headed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense. Back in 1969, DARPA had built the ARPANET, which eventually grew to become the Internet, as a way to exchange files and share information. In 2014, DARPA wanted something new - a search engine for the deep web. They were motivated to uncover the deep web's hidden and illegal activity, according to Chris Mattmann, chief architect in the Instrument and Science Data Systems Section of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology. Learn more at https://www.tacc.utexas.edu/-/preventing-blood-clots-with-a-new-metric-for-heart-function

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