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Breakthrough Technology Improves Analytical Reports in the Intelligence Community

Award-winning TRACE application helps reduce cognitive biases and improve decision making.

TRACE Computer Application In iSchool Computer Lab with Prof Jennifer Stromer-Galley Participatory Approach

A team of researchers at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) and its Center for Computational and Data Science (CCDS) has developed an application that could improve analytical reports in the intelligence community by decreasing errors in the analysis process. Now, after months of rigorous testing, the team is moving closer to the patent application stage.

Trackable Reasoning and Analysis for Collaboration and Evaluation (TRACE) helps reduce cognitive biases and other common errors in reasoning and judgment. Lawmakers, Congressional committee members and military leaders are some who may use the reports generated by analysts to make decisions. 

Jennifer Stromer-Galley
Jennifer Stromer-Galley

“Our techniques help analysts write more complete analytical products to better understand what led to the judgment,” says iSchool Professor Jennifer Stromer-Galley, director of CCDS and the project’s principal investigator. “If they have a more complete picture, it will lead to better decision making.”

The multidisciplinary team included researchers from Syracuse University, the University of Arizona, Colorado State University and SRC Inc. In addition, two intelligence analysts served as subject-matter experts on the project. Syracuse psychology professors and several Syracuse undergraduate and doctoral students worked on the project as well.

“This was a team effort,” Stromer-Galley says. “Cool research like this doesn’t happen without lots of smart, dedicated people sharing their ideas.”

Stromer-Galley is appreciative of the University’s support on the project.

“This large research contract is a signal that Syracuse is a high-achieving, high-risk/high-reward research space,” she says. “We have the research support at Syracuse to enable faculty who have ambitious projects to really achieve them.”

The TRACE team recently won a 2019 TechConnect Defense Innovation Award. TRACE was one of 95 technologies selected to present at the Defense TechConnect Innovation Summit and Expo, held in October. This annual conference recognizes the top 15 percent of submitted challenge technologies as ranked by the conference’s selection committee.

The project was supported by a $5.2 million grant from the Crowdsourcing Evidence, Argumentation, Thinking and Evaluation (CREATE) Program of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), an arm of the Office for the Director of National Intelligence.

The University applied for a provisional patent and will submit a final patent application in January.

Also of Interest

  • School of Information Studies (iSchool)

    The Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) is an innovative, exciting, and inclusive community with an international reputation, ranked 6th in the world in the QS World University Rankings (2019).

  • Center for Computational and Data Sciences (CCDS)

    The Center for Computational and Data Sciences (CCDS) is committed to advancing important and practical research in the social sciences, using advanced computational approaches. The Center builds on the iSchool’s historic strengths in Human Language Technologies, such as Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning, and the School’s current emphasis on Data Science research.