University joins the Center for Accelerated Real Time Analytics

By Maya Bell

University joins the Center for Accelerated Real Time Analytics

By Maya Bell
As a member of the National Science Foundation-sponsored center, the University of Miami will partner with industry and government to drive innovations that rely on real-time data.

Suppose in the not-so-distant future, you’re riding in a self-driving car that, to keep you safe, relies on information about road conditions, traffic congestion, even the size and speed of the vehicles near yours.

As Mitsu Ogihara, the director of education at the University of Miami Institute for Data Science and Computing (IDSC) notes, such smart data must be collected, analyzed, and conveyed instantly because “two days—or even two seconds—later is too late.”

Now, with a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the University has become the newest academic partner of the NSF-sponsored Center for Accelerated Real Time Analytics (CARTA), which helps industry and government members drive innovations by extracting and analyzing real-time information from massive and moving data sets, such as video, voice, social networking, and the “internet of things.” 

Mitsunori Ogihara headshot

“This is a beautiful marriage between academia and industry or government,” said Ogihara, professor of computer science and the principal investigator and site director of the new University of Miami CARTA. “The Googles or Amazons of the world that can operate their own data centers don’t need the support of academia. But to pursue their research agendas, others need to look to academia. So, this is a way for us to advance our own research and knowledge and for industry to get answers they need for their innovations.”

In addition to surveillance with autonomous vehicles, Ogihara said University of Miami CARTA will focus on a wide array of novel technologies that use machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain for real-time applications in smart cities, music and mind, genetics, health records, and marketing. One proposed project is working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop an intelligent tool for predicting diseases and conditions.

Led by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), CARTA is one of dozens of member-driven Industry–University Cooperative Research Centers (I-UCRCs) that the NSF supports across the nation to accelerate basic research by connecting industry innovators, world-class academic teams, and government leaders. By joining CARTA’s consortium, which in addition to UMBC includes Rutgers University, North Carolina State University, Tel Aviv University in Israel, and 21 industry and government members, the University will have new opportunities to conduct high-impact research and help develop a diverse, high-tech workforce—especially from students who will be introduced to new, relevant research areas.

Yelena Yesha headshot

“It’s a big coup for the University as a whole and IDSC in particular to be a site of this enterprise,” said CARTA director Yelena Yesha, Distinguished University Professor of Science and Electrical Engineering at UMBC, where she established CARTA in 2018. “This is not just a grant. It is the ultimate academic recognition of the quality of the work done by an institution. These types of centers work on problems of national significance that have commercial value and the University and IDSC brings unique intellect and resources to the table.”

Yesha, who also established CARTA’s predecessor I-UCRC, the Center for Hybrid Multicore Productivity Research, has a unique view of IDSC’s resources and infrastructure. She has spent the past 18 months at the University as a distinguished visiting professor and IDSC’s chief innovation officer and head of international collaborations.

As she noted, to win a prestigious I-UCRC award, universities must have a solid business plan and demonstrate excellence in their science and research infrastructure and in engaging partners. She said the University’s powerful research computing infrastructure—which includes one of the nation’s fastest supercomputers, broad expertise in software applications that support research and data-driven discoveries, and a burgeoning culture of interdisciplinary research—make IDSC an ideal CARTA partner.

While the NSF provides operations and management funding for each CARTA site, industry members pay membership fees to support the pre-competitive, use-inspired research taking place at each of CARTA’s academic partners. University of Miami CARTA’s goal will not only be to attract new members, but to leverage relationships with CARTA’s existing network of members. They include Morgan Stanley, the NASA Center for Climate Simulation, the National Security Agency Central Security Service, and RAD-AID, which increases radiology services in low- and middle-income countries.

“New members will come to UM CARTA because of the intellectual power of the faculty, because of the unique resources of IDSC, and because of the interdisciplinary nature of IDSC, which has a relationship with a world-class medical school and access to world-class researchers in social sciences and earth sciences,” Yesha said. “Prime innovations come from the center, but they are not done in isolation. Each site is autonomous, but they all work as a center, and UM is now part of the ecosystem.”

And that, Ogihara and Yesha agreed, will be a great drawing card not only for the University, but for students interested in data science—one of the fastest growing fields in the world and a rapidly growing program at the University. Ogihara, who directs the University’s new Master of Science in Data Science, said that students in the program will now have access to all the expertise, resources, training, and opportunities that come with being part of the CARTA ecosystem—and the hunt for what Yesha calls the “secret sauce” in real-time data and “the diamonds in the rough.”

“If you don’t know how to process real-time data with analytics you cannot extract the knowledge. So, the secret sauce is extraction of the knowledge from actionable data so we can draw inferences, conclusions, and solve dedicated problems,” Yesha said, noting that University of Miami CARTA will be interested in working with both small and large enterprises.

“Because most innovations don’t come from established billion-dollar corporations,” she added. “They come from smaller companies that find their way to big companies. So, we want to find these diamonds in the rough, from the scientific perspective, and help them, first of all, to be part of the ecosystem, but also to develop their technology and prototype so they become the next Googles and Teslas of the world.”