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October 15 2000

Award from The National Science Foundation (NSF)

"Data Centers - Managing Data with Profiles"

The Scholarly Technology Group is a participant in a 5 year $3.2M grant awarded to Brown University by the National Science Foundation, Division of Information and Intelligent Systems. Professor Stan Zdonik, Brown University Department of Computer Science, is the lead Principal Investigator; Steve Rice (Brown), Mitch Cherniack (Brandeis), and Michael J. Franklin (Berkeley) are co-Principal Investigators. This award is in the NSF's prestigious Information Technology Research (ITR) program, which is designed to strengthen the nation's leadership in information technology.

This project will study ways to make using the Internet faster and more responsive by designing web-based middleware -- software to enhance the interaction between users and Web servers. The team's research focuses on designing technology to let people create profiles of their information interests and on developing techniques that can use those profiles to manage web data intelligently. In addition, this team will explore how these user profiles might let people update the information they carry in their portable computers and cell phones. They hope to develop techniques that would allow someone to plug into an Ethernet socket to update the limited memory of a computing device. The user would receive updated e-mail and other information. The researchers hope to to make such "data recharging" on a portable device as simple as recharging the battery.

STG's role includes: (i) managing a testbed for exploring user behavior and testing new technology and (ii) analyzing the XML query patterns of a large humanities user community.

For the testbed we are using Women Writers Online, an online textbase of writing by women in English, between 1350 and 1850, which is published by the Brown University Women Writers Project. Developed over the last 10 years this textbase now consists of 200 texts encoded in a version of the Text Encoding Initiative SGML/XML element set and supports sophisticated structure-sensitive queries, converting the results to HTML for delivery in the user's browser. One of the first SGML/XML-based textbases, WWO is now in use by scholars and students in over 180 colleges and universities around the world.

For more information about STG's participation in this project contact Steve DeRose.

For more information about the Women Writers Project and Women Writers Online contact Julia Flanders (Julia_Flanders@Brown.Edu).

Proposal Abstract: This project focuses on the problem of adding data management facilities to inherently autonomous, distributed information sources such as those that occur in the web. Data management here means the allocation and structuring of resources to provide more responsive access to data for applications. In this kind of environment, data management must be superimposed through an independently controlled service that exists between the data sources and the applications. This is facilitated through the introduction of architecture based on data centers, a collection of machines that prestage and distribute data for its clients. Client applications submit profiles describing their overall data needs, and the data center gathers data and organizes it on behalf of their clients in order to provide efficient data access. This research explores systems issues and techniques for the design and operation of data centers. This includes the management of large numbers of profiles, heuristics for balancing the needs of large numbers of users against the available resources of the data center, and the efficient processing of future client data needs against the data that is managed by the data center.