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TimeTrails (Spatiotemporal Data Warehouses for Trajectory Exploitation)


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), a Dutch merchant, through his own technology of hand crafted lenses, revealed to the scientific community the hidden worlds of bacteria, protozoa and blood cells. Using detailed observation data collected in laboratory journals he laid the foundations for what has become the discipline of microbiology.

Hand written laboratory journals have since been replaced by digital archives, too complex to grasp by a single researcher's eye. Such massive amounts of data call for new "lenses" based on innovative database and data mining technology to enable future scientific discovery.

Recently this exponentially growing amount of data has gotten a name: Big Data. But Big Data comes with Big Challenges. The computer science research topics in the Time-Trail Vault project in the COMMIT/program are at the core of this Big Data challenge, i.e. how to handle huge amounts of data for information gathering and decision making. Selected application areas have been chosen to tackle the scientific challenges of constructing a milestone for database technology in this new era.

The research is focused on trajectories, i.e. ‘footsteps’ left behind by mobile users, earth rumbles, and social portal interactions. An example of a trajectory is the GPS coordinates of your trip when using your navigation system. Every second or so of your trip has an associated set of GPS coordinates.

They exhibit a common base of “who, when, where, what” messages that are highly correlated in time and space. They come in very large quantities, often without human interaction, and are retained for long periods. How do we store efficiently and index them quickly? How can we find patterns in these volumes? How can we use them for improved services? What lies beyond the data itself?