Jeff Jonas

Distinguished Engineer and Chief Scientist, IBM Entity Analytics

Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness
20 minutes, 9.3mb, recorded 2007-03-27
Topics: Security
Jeff Jonas

The field of non-obvious relationship awareness can unite your data, create value from previously unknown connections, and even catch MIT card counters in Las Vegas. Jeff Jonas spent many years working on this problem in his startup company. By comparing different lists such as a casino's blacklisted customers and its vendors, he was able to tease out suspicious relationships and warning flags for casino security to follow up on.

Isolated data leads to such embarrassing figures, like, 2 out of 1,000 retail employees have previously been arrested for stealing from the company where they now work. Perception integration seeks to draw features from the data and publish findings as they happen. For instance, queries are stored with data so that if a new connection is found that answers a historical query, the querier will be notified of that connection. Queriers find other queriers so that they can coordinate search efforts, and this technique was used to help reunite families that had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The insights gained from this technique are not found by looking for specific data but by processing a stream of historical data to train the system. The system also needs to be robust enough to correct inconsistencies and work out of sequence. An interesting emergent property is that as the number of data points increases, false positives increase to a certain point and then begin to cancel each other out, creating very reliable conclusions.


Jeff Jonas is chief scientist of the IBM Entity Analytic Solutions group and an IBM Distinguished Engineer. In these capacities, he is responsible for shaping the overall technical strategy of next generation identity analytics and the use of this new capability in the overall IBM products. Jonas is a member of the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age and actively contributes his insights on privacy, technology, and homeland security to leading national think tanks, privacy advocacy groups, and policy research organizations, including the Center for Democracy and Technology, Heritage Foundation, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Highlands Forum. Most recently, Jonas has been named a senior associate to Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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