Goodpaster Award for Excellence in Research

Photo, Arun Maiya

Arun Maiya won the 2021 Goodpaster Award for Excellence in Research.

“Arun is a pioneer in applied research and is focused on the use of computational methods to extract meaning from raw data,” said IDA President Norton Schwartz. “He has led important, high-impact research and development efforts to help sponsors make sense of huge amounts of data.” Arun has deep technical expertise in artificial intelligence, natural language processing, machine learning, computer vision and network science. His major software contributions since joining IDA in 2011 include IDA Text Analytics (IDATA) and ktrain.

IDATA is a suite of software capabilities Arun designed and developed to facilitate search, exploration and analyses of large document sets using state-of-the-art machine learning, natural language processing and information retrieval. Although originally designed for the Damage Assessment Management Office and the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center, other IDA researchers have used the capability for many applications to solve sponsor problems.

Arun also developed the machine learning library known as ktrain, which makes deep learning and artificial intelligence more accessible and easier to apply. The ktrain library supports text, images, graphs and tables and has been downloaded more than half a million times by users around the world for a wide range of use cases in government, industry and academia. Examples include analyses for the U.S. Economic Census and Intelligence Community; financial crime analytics at Big Four accounting firms; and, a machine-learning-enhanced search engine for COVID-19 publications at Stanford University. The ktrain library is open-source software that is available on GitHub; it has been mentioned in several textbooks on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Arun sets the standard for the attributes that IDA most values in its researchers: rigorous analytic abilities, trusted expertise, innate leadership skills, and excellent presentation and writing skills. He routinely produces quality results that are immediately useful to sponsors. His major IDA publications include the 2016 Welch Award winning, “Mining Measured Information from Text,” coauthored with Dale Visser and Andrew Wan, and “ktrain: A Low-Code Library for Augmented Machine Learning,” an IDA technical report that has been cited by research papers spanning a diverse set of application areas.

Arun received a doctorate in computer science from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a master’s degree in computer science from DePaul University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a recognized leader and active member of the larger data science community, he has served on program committees for, and presented at, the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining and other top-tier computer science conferences.