Data analysis program continues to rise

Photo courtesy of Gary Meek/PhatPixel Media / John Stasko, above, poses for a photo with a background shot of Jigsaw, his data analysis program.

For the past few years, John Stasko and his colleagues have been promoting the use of a particular computer program that they have titled Jigsaw, creating a lot of buzz.

Jigsaw, which is a free and downloadable desktop software that performs as a tool for document analysis, has been receiving large positive feedback from its users, which are external organizations across the country. According to Stasko, these organizations have found this program to be a helpful resource.

“One police department recently told us that Jigsaw helped them with a case and allowed them to arrest someone, get their thoughts together, and figure out who to further investigate,” Stasko said.

So far, Jigsaw has been used in backgrounds from journalism to law enforcement, and with the continuous stockpiling of documents, Jigsaw eases the care of these files. Specifically, according to Stasko, the program has been used by the fusion center in Seattle, Wash., a police detective case in Rockhill, S.C. and a religious scholar at Emory. Jigsaw has also been considered by the Atlanta and Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) as well.

“One police department recently told us that Jigsaw helped them with a case…”

Stasko, a member of the School of Interactive Computing, and his team worked to make the Jigsaw program a simple and effective way to analyze large documents sets. While Jigsaw includes a variety of functions, its success can be attributed to its versatility in use and effectiveness in real life scenarios.

“We are just getting more and more data to handle, and we all know that people can only keep so much straight in our heads, and our goal of the program was to add ‘sense making’ to large sets of documents,” Stasko said.

After importing a large set of documents into the software, the software analyzes the content of each document and visualizes the set for easier review of the material, and once it processes the document sets, Jigsaw sets up different views of the materials.

Jigsaw also provides different views that are available for reviewing document sets, such as document viewer, list viewer, cluster view, word tree views and other document visuals.

The purpose of these visuals and organizational applications are to identify themes, connections, differences, similarities and other elements in individual documents or documents sets that need to be analyzed.

Because the program stands as visualization software for complicated sets of data and documents, the extent of its use can considered in journalism, research, private investigations or simple document management.

While the program has been strongly favored in the eyes of some departments of law enforcement, Stasko hopes that it will extend beyond current usage.

“I would bed more excited if more police forces or intelligence agencies that found benefit from it,” Stasko said. “Even academic researchers could potentially find it that way.”