Victor D. Chase

Made to Order: IBM Makes Sense Out of Unstructured Data

Most of us like to have a certain amount of structure in our lives, yet all too frequently the complexity of modern-day living confronts us with what seems more like chaos than order. When that happens, we strive to regain a level of organization that helps us deal with the complexities of our imperfect world.

Much the same holds true in the inanimate world of computerized data, which is increasingly confronted with confusion merely by virtue of its exponential growth. As a result, IBM researchers are developing a series of complex software systems aimed at bringing this seemingly uncontrollable mass of information, known as unstructured data, into an orderly, usable, structured state.

The growth of unstructured data tracks the evolution of computer utilization. During the 1960s, computing was primarily a backroom, punch-card operation, used for basic functions like billing and tracking inventory. Gradually, computers moved to the front office to handle more people-oriented transactions such as making airline and hotel reservations. Most of these tasks could be accomplished by categorizing and accessing information in ordered rows and columns of numbers, known as relational databases. It is precisely this type of routine "grunt work" that computers were originally designed to handle.

Selected Works

Books
Shattered Nerves: How Science Is Solving Modern Medicine's Most Perplexing Problem
My book is as much about the people involved in this dynamic new field as it is about the science. In it I tell the stories of the researchers and of the patients on whom this technology is being tested, some of whom have become an intrinsic part of the teams creating these devices.
Computer Articles
Modeling An Earth-Shaking Event
“Earthquakes don’t kill people,” seismologist Arthur Rodgers says. “Buildings do.”
A Chilling Tale Of Nuclear Weaponry
Freezing and maintaining the reliability of the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile would appear to be diametrically opposed concepts. Think of one and the notion of shivering in the cold comes to mind. The other conjures images of an inferno....DEIXIS 2004-2005 (a DOE publication)
Made to Order: IBM Makes Sense Out of Unstructured Data
Researchers are developing systems to bring a rapidly growing and seemingly uncontrollable mass of information, into an orderly, usable state of being. IBM’s Think Research, 2002
Detecting Defects
When something you’ve purchased is defective, you usually send it back for a replacement, or throw it out and buy a new one. If you happen to be in the explosives business, however, the opposite holds true...DEIXIS 2004-2005 (a DOE publication)
Housing Lasers
Developing laser fusion may be the ultimate solution to the energy problem, and computational science is helping us get there. Deixis, 2002-2003 (published for the DOE).
Environmental Articles
Model Mixes Ice, Heat, Water And Salt To View The Ocean's Future
Within the next several decades, ice over the Arctic will completely disappear during the summer. That’s just one of the clear and dramatic predictions to come from models developed by the Climate Ocean and Sea Ice Modeling (COSIM) program at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Waiter There’s a Dye in My Soup
Food dye may prove to be the ultimate safe pesticide. Environmental Health Perspectives (a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences), Volume 104, Number 2, February 1996.