An assistant professor of computer science at Stanford University is among the 24 winners of this year's MacArthur Foundation's "genius grant."
Christopher Ré is being praised for his work in developing a data-inference system that analyzes data with a high degree of certainty.
The system, DeepDive, can "analyze 'dark data' or the mass of unprocessable data buried in texts, illustrations, images, etc." and then "extracts relationships among entities (i.e., real-world objects) in the data and infers facts involving those entities," according to a press release.
"These facts, or assertions, form a knowledge base, which can then be integrated into an existing database," the release reads.
According to the MacArthur Foundation, DeepDive is being applied in a variety of settings, including scientific laboratories and law enforcement. For example, a current Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program is using DeepDive to extract data about human trafficking networks from the dark web.
Ré, who will receive $625,000 to further his research, told Stanford News Report that he's "really excited about the opportunity."
"Every academic has ideas in his or her drawer that can't get funding because maybe it's too crazy, even though the outcome will be big," Ré said. "I'm hoping to undertake some of those in the next couple of months, and maybe staff up some other side impacts that could have a huge impact."
Each year, the MacArthur Foundation recognizes individuals with "a track record of achievement and the potential for significant contributions in the future," according to its website.
"These 24 delightfully diverse MacArthur Fellows are shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways," said MacArthur President Julia Stasch in a statement. "Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us all."
Other 2015 winners include a historian, a puppetry artist and director, a computational biologist and a journalist.
To learn more about Ré or view a video of him, visit the MacArthur Foundation website.