DARPA shows off clearinghouse site for open-source code and information

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency debuted a new website dedicated to sharing open-source data and publications today, calling it the DARPA Open Catalog.

There are a number of different aims for the Open Catalog. By sharing open-source code freely, DARPA says it hopes to create a community of developers who are experts in software for government use. Program manager Chris White said that the collaborative nature of open-source was another incentive for the project.

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"Our hope is that the computer science community will test and evaluate elements of our software and afterward adopt them as either standalone offerings or as components of their products," he said in a statement.

The initial wave of open-source code mostly includes projects related to XDATA, a DARPA-backed big data analytics framework designed to help people make quick decisions based on incomplete information. Contributions include those from UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, and several well-known defense contractors like Boeing and IBM. Research papers from these organizations are also available via the DARPA Open Catalog.

But the future of the program, DARPA said, will be determined by the response to this first wave if there's enough interest, the agency will continue to release experimental data, papers and, of course, more open-source code. Next on the list will be work on natural language processing and visual media recognition technology, designed to automate some analysis tasks. The Open Catalog can be found here.

The Open Catalog is a somewhat novel project for DARPA, long a highly secretive institution charged with keeping the American military on the technological cutting-edge. That said, however, many landmark technologies saw their genesis at DARPA, including GPS, the operating system that would eventually become Unix, and a network called ARPANET that served as the direct forerunner of the Internet as we know it.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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