Editorial

Better Than Ever
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These are the best of times at ISI

As it prepares to celebrate its 45th anniversary, the USC Information Sciences Institute (ISI) has attracted more government funding for more major projects than at any time in its history. In 2016 alone, federal research awards to ISI — which has made groundbreaking contributions in information processing, computer and communications technologies — exceeded $100 million.

Under the leadership of Prem Natarajan, ISI recently opened an office in the Greater Boston area to complement its facilities in Marina del Rey and Northern Virginia. The Boston office marks ISI’s first geographical expansion in more than two decades.

“ISI’s new office will help solidify its national reach and importance,” said Dean Yannis C. Yortsos.

Among the ISI-led projects that received major government funding in 2016:

Rapid Analysis of Various Emerging Nanoelectronics (RAVEN) program. The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activities (IARPA), part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, awarded ISI a five-year effort valued at $30.9 million to develop tools capable of imaging even the smallest features in modern silicon integrated chips to ensure they are free of defects.

Digital, Semantic Physical Analysis of Media Integrity (DISPARITY). The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the Department of Defense, selected ISI for a four-year, $8.3 million project to develop algorithms to automatically detect manipulated digital media, including images and videos.

SIGINT-based Anticipation of Future Events (SAFE). ISI received $6 million for the first phase of a research effort to devise techniques for generating probabilistic warnings of future events, such as terrorism; optional future phases could bring the total to $12 million.

Effectively Forecasting Evolving Cyber Threats (EFFECT). IARPA awarded ISI nearly $6.5 million plus an $8.8 million option for forecasting emerging cyber threats.