A few days ago I saw this NSF press release about Dark Web, a project by Hsinchun Chen and his Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Arizona to systematically collect and analyze information from terrorist generated Web sites. Then today as I'm driving, I heard Dr. Chen on Science Friday. Bernard Brooks from RIT was the other guest. The topic: how computation and mathematics can be used to combat terrorism.
The Dark Web research uses spidering to gather data from the Web and then applies techniques like social network analysis and authorship analysis to identify groups and even link articles written by the same "anonymous" author.
Dark Web has collected 500,000 Web pages created by 94 US domestic groups, 300,000 Web pages created by 41 Arabic-speaking groups, and 100,000 Web pages created by Spanish-speaking groups. That's a lot of data. The automated analysis culls this collection to find items of interest.
Brooks is one of the organizers of a conference on the use of mathematics in counterterrorism that will take place at RIT next week. Says Brooks:
"I really think that people need to realize how important math will be in the war against terror," says Bernard Brooks, one of the conference coordinators and an assistant head of research programs in RIT's School of Mathematical Sciences. "Chemistry was the science for World War I. Physics was the science for World War II. Now, math will play a critical role in the war against terror."