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Richard M. Keller, Ph.D. is the Chief Scientist for Information Management Technologies within the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames Research Center. For over 25 years, Dr. Keller has managed NASA R&D projects in the areas of intelligent information management and collaborative systems. He has developed award-winning decision support and knowledge management systems for a wide range of NASA personnel, including astrobiologists, space and earth scientists, spaceflight controllers, accident investigators, and air traffic safety managers. His software applications in the areas of knowledge management for distributed workgroups and data integration for aviation safety have resulted in successful commercial spin-offs and a patent award. He served as the group lead for the Information Sharing and Integration Group within the Collaboration and Assistant Systems Technical Area prior to his appointment as Chief Scientist.


• Semantic Integration: Keller's current work involves the application of semantic integration approaches to heterogeneous NASA data. These approaches have been applied in three different domains: aeronautics, science mission support, and mission operations management.

For aeronautics, Keller has developed the NASA Air Traffic Management (ATM) Ontology to serve as a common data model to facilitate integration of various aviation data sources, including flight track data, weather data, traffic management advisory data, and national airspace infrastructure data. The ontology models over 150 different types of aviation entities, their properties, and relationships. The ATM Ontology covers flights, aircraft, manufacturers, airports, airlines, air routes, traffic management facilities, air traffic control advisories, weather phenomena, and many other types of entities. The associated ATM Knowledge Graph is based on the ontology, and stores integrated information on over 100K commercial flights during July 2014 in the New York metro area, extracted from eight different aviation data sources. The knowledge graph, which contains over 260M facts about those flights, represents a feasibility proof-of-concept for the construction of a queryable, semantics-based aviation resource to support research, analysis, and public policy decision-making.

In the area of science mission support, Keller has applied similar techniques, using an ontology and knowledge graph to integrate historical analog science mission data generated by the Pavilion Lake Research Project over the course of multiple missions. The integrated data includes submarine tracking data, mission plans, images, observational data, documents, and ancillary information on field sites, personnel, and missions.

Finally, to support mission operations management for the International Space Station (ISS), semantic approaches were again applied to produce a demonstration knowledge graph. The graph integrates data from some of the key information assets used to manage and operate the ISS, including crew training records, ISS inventory records, operations anomaly records, personnel data, and organizational dependencies.

• Semantic Web for Air Transportation (SWAT): In August, 2015, an invitational workshop was held in Washington DC to bring together people applying Semantic Web technologies to solve a variety information management problems pertaining to global air transportation operations and governance. In attendance were international participants from government, standards bodies, university labs, and industry. The purpose of the meeting was to exchange information about ongoing projects, use cases, and shareable community resources such as ontologies, development tools, and deployment strategies. The meeting was organized by Keller, with assistance from colleagues at FAA and Securboration, a government contracted research organization. A follow-on workshop is in the initial planning stages.

• Science Data Architecture: Keller is serving currently as a consultant to a group of interdisciplinary astrobiology scientists, who are creating a data repository to house diverse sets of biological, chemical, astrophysical, and geological data. He is working on the data architecture design, and helping the team develop metadata needed to describe datasets and search their content.

• Information Integration, Search, Link Mining, and Similarity Analysis: Keller led the XSearch project, which developed and deployed a specialized search engine for use by the International Space Station (ISS) and Shuttle flight controllers in NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston. XSearch provides search and linkage across multiple databases used by ISS and Shuttle flight controllers. XSearch integrates and searches data from several separate flight operations databases. Through a common interface, Mission Control Center personnel using XSearch can issue a single search query and simultaneously interrogate multiple mission operations data sources. A total of 15 different types of records can be searched using the XSearch interface. In addition to conducting search, the system also contextualizes search results by detecting records that are cross-referenced by or textually similar to the search results. Cross references are located by parsing the text of database records using customized citation patterns that identify cross-references (cross-links) embedded in the text.

• Semantic Information Management: Keller and his team developed SemanticOrganizer, a novel semantics-based information repository that supports knowledge sharing across distributed NASA project teams, including multidisciplinary teams of scientists, engineers and accident investigators. In 2004, this system was the largest semantic web application in use at NASA, with over 500 registered users in 30 different project teams. The system stores more than 45000 interlinked metadata records, 12000 archived email messages, and 14000 electronic files containing project data, documents, and images. The SemanticOrganizer team won two top awards at the 2004 International Semantic Web Conference, including an award recognizing the highest-impact new semantic web applications developed during 2004. SemanticOrganizer was also honored as one of the finalists in the 2003 NASA Software of the Year competition. Also in the area of semantics-based information retrieval and management, Keller participated in development of the WebTagger and DIAMS systems, early tools for indexing and organizing Web links (i.e., "bookmarks" or "favorites").

• Aviation Safety: Keller developed workflow, data analysis, and data integration tools to support anomaly resolution processes performed by commercial aviation data analysts reviewing black box flight recorder data. His tools were used by flight safety departments within United Airlines and Alaska Airlines to manage and analyze in-flight exceedances. These tools were also considered for use by British Airways and British Midlands. One of these tools was licensed to a leading provider of commercial flight data analysis software for worldwide distribution to over 75 airline customers. This work received a NASA Space Act Award for exceptional scientific accomplishment and technical achievement.

• Investigative Tools and Failure Analysis: Keller led the technical development of the InvestigationOrganizer tool, which supports the information management, organization, and analysis needs of distributed accident investigation teams. InvestigationOrganizer was used during several high visibility accidents, including the NASA Columbia and the CONTOUR investigations. Keller served as part of the supporting staff for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's Engineering and Technical Analysis Group, and received multiple awards for his InvestigationOrganizer work, including a NASA Space Act Award. A commercial version of InvestigationOrganizer was developed under license to Xerox Corp.

• Scientific Work Support: Keller has developed several tools to support scientific experimentation, collaboration, and information management. These include: 1) the SIGMA system, a knowledge-based visual programming environment that assists scientists in prototyping scientific software models in earth and planetary science domains, 2) the ScienceOrganizer system, an information-sharing system for collaborating scientific teams of biologists, chemists, and geologists, 3) the Greenhouse Collaboratory system, an automated astrobiology experimentation facility where scientists specify experiments to be performed and intelligent agents execute and monitor those experiments on remotely-controlled hardware, capturing scientific data in a persistent repository, and 4) the Hypothesis Browser, a system for indexing and browsing scientific literature based on key hypotheses, arguments, and evidence in a scientific field.

Background and Education: Prior to his current position, Keller served as a research associate at Stanford University's Knowledge Systems Laboratory, where he headed up a project investigating the application of knowledge-sharing and knowledge compilation techniques to engineering device modeling. He received an A.B. in mathematics from Cornell University, an M.S. in computer science from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in computer science from Rutgers University. Keller's thesis research focused on the development of analytical machine learning techniques. He is the author of numerous conference papers and journal articles, and has been the recipient of awards for the best conference papers in the areas of semantic web, machine learning and knowledge-based software engineering.

Research Interests: Keller's current research interests include artificial intelligence and semantic technologies, collaborative environments, knowledge management, automated knowledge acquisition, information integration, indexing and search systems, computer-supported cooperative work, and digital libraries.

Research Publications: Available here

Last updated: August 2017

Email: Phone: (650) 604-3388 FAX: (650) 604-3594

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Chief Scientist for Information Management Technologies

Intelligent Systems Division
Ames Research Center
Mail Stop 269-2
Moffett Field, CA 94035-0001

Phone: 650-604-3388
Fax: 650-604-3594

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