Mason Professor Receives Patent for New Idea Detector

Posted: March 7, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

Kenneth Hintz, an electrical and computer engineering professor in the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering, was recently awarded with a patent for his Lexicon-Based New Idea Detector.

Developed at Mason, the system, known as FadCat, can detect the occurrence of new ideas by systematically analyzing documents and databases to identify common threads of information.

“FadCat finds ideas that people don’t even know exist,” Hintz says. “It automatically tracks newly discovered ideas to determine whether they are a passing fad or whether they are acquiring some permanence. The net result is a significant reduction in the amount of manual searching required to find something that was previously unknown.”

The system would be most commonly used to handle problems associated with law enforcement — an area that Hintz says is generally “data rich and information poor.” FadCat is capable of identifying the useful information present in the massive amounts of transcripts, e-mails and written documents law officials must often sift through.

Hintz uses the example of examining a terrorist organization. It is “unfeasible for an investigator to pore through all of the documents of multiple terrorist suspects on the hopes of finding a common thread” to identify a terrorist target, he says. The FadCat is capable of detecting such targets after systematically examining all the suspects’ forms of communication.

FadCat works like this: First, users enter specific web sites or blogs from which they get their information and want the system to search. FadCat then builds a lexicon from those sites that enables the system to tell users when additional words are found. Users can then tell the system whether or not they wish to track the words through other domains in search of the new ideas.

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