DARPA Launches XDATA Program

As part of President Obama’s Big Data Initiative, DARPA announced the XDATA program to develop computational techniques and software tools for processing and analyzing the vast amount of mission-oriented information for defense activities.

To enable large scale data processing in a wide range of potential settings, XDATA plans to release open source software toolkits to enable collaboration among the applied mathematics, computer science and data visualization communities.

“The sheer volume of information creates a background clutter,” said DARPA Acting Director Kaigham Gabriel. “Let me put this in some context. The Atlantic Ocean is roughly 350 million cubic kilometers in volume, or nearly 100 billion, billon gallons of water. If each gallon of water represented a byte or character, the Atlantic Ocean would be able to store, just barely, all the data generated by the world in 2010. Looking for a specific message or page in a document would be the equivalent of searching the Atlantic Ocean for a single 55-gallon drum barrel.”

To increase awareness of the XDATA program and attract potential researchers, DARPA is planning a Proposers’ Day workshop for April 2012. This workshop will introduce the research community to the effort, explain the mechanics of a DARPA research program, and encourage collaborative arrangements among potential performers. The meeting is in support of the XDATA Broad Agency Announcement.


“It’s a great time to leverage recent commercial and academic advances in processing large amounts of data for analysis,” said DARPA Program Manager Chris White. “We are calling on all technical communities with expertise in this area to help us ensure our men and women in uniform have the benefit of the best information we can provide.”

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