A team of faculty and researchers from the Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) Simulation, Experiments and Efficient Design (SEED) Center for Data Farming has been honored with a 2014 NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO) Scientific Achievement Award for their contributions to the international organization through data farming research.
“[Data Farming] is an extremely effective method in exploring new tactics, new abilities, and creates a way of looking at a huge variety of ‘what if’ questions,” said Dr. Susan Sanchez, a professor in the NPS Department of Operations Research (OR) and co-director of the SEED Center. “By trial and error, you’re just not going to get those good answers, and this is a way to get those answers.”
Data farming is the process of using simulations and computer modeling to grow data, leverage high-power computing, state-of-the-art experiment designs, and innovative analysis techniques to gain deeper insights from simulation models. Ultimately, data farming seeks to provide decision makers with insights into complex issues.
NPS’ SEED Center frequently hosts International Data Farming Workshops where data farming simulations are investigated by faculty and student teams. The STO Scientific Achievement Award was presented in recognition of one such workshop, MSG-088, an effort to assess the data farming capabilities worldwide in relation to improved decision support to NATO forces.
“Our workshops are intended to bring modelers and analysts up to speed on recent breakthroughs in statistical design of experiments and how those breakthroughs facilitate understanding of complex systems in ways that people thought were impossible as recently as 10 years ago,“ said OR senior lecturer Dr. Paul Sanchez. “We were very excited to get this recognition,” added Susan Sanchez. “In addition to those who won the award, there are lots of NPS faculty and students that participated in the workshops.”
Data farming is uniquely capable of impacting a broad range of topics. Researcher Stephen Upton describes two past efforts that have made a significant impact on the DOD.
“The first example is [then] Maj. Chris Nannini’s work on scheduling UAVs, ‘Analysis of the Assignment Scheduling Capability for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Simulation Tool’ in 2006,” said Upton. “His work was cited by Mike Bauman, head of the U.S. Army’s TRAC (TRADOC Analysis Center) as perhaps saving the U.S. Army over $6 billion in manpower and acquisition costs.
“The other is Lt. Cmdr. Chad Kaiser in September 2008, whose work on naval tactics, ‘Air Defense Against UAS Kamikaze Saturation Attack,’ was used to develop a Navy TACMEMO (tactical memorandum),” continued Upton.
Other recent case studies underway focus on issues like humanitarian logistics, mine clearance operations, expeditionary energy, Navy manpower models, and a major current effort is in support of the Navy’s Synthetic Theater Operations Research Model, or STORM combat model.
“Besides enabling the experiments, we are enabling the STORM campaign model,” said Researcher Mary McDonald. “We are helping them pull together gigabytes and gigabytes and gigabytes, so that their simulation produces information quickly and is accessible to operators.”
The NATO STO Scientific Achievement Award was instituted in 1989 to recognize outstanding contributions in the context of activities in aerospace science and technology or aerospace systems applications.