Needles in a Digital Haystack: Improving Digital Archive Research


Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 3:30pm to 4:30pm


Discovery Bar, Cabot Science Library, Harvard Science Center

The Digital Futures Consortium at Harvard invites you to its next event in the Digital Futures Discovery Series showcasing the groundbreaking techniques scholars are developing to tackle the increasingly challenging task of conducting digital research. 

Manually searching through more than 46 million digital records is an intractable research task. This is what lay ahead of Benjamin as a Digital Humanities Associate Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, as he sought to aggregate the death certificate ref­erence cards of individuals who perished in con­centration camps during the Holocaust-cards scattered throughout the International Tracing Service digital archive. By automating the retrieval of data through template matching and machine learning, Ben used every-day technology to power his algorithm and produce results with near-perfect accuracy. To find needles in a digital haystack, Ben built a magnet, and in his talk he'll share how he did it. 

Benjamin Charles Germain Lee is currently in the Ph.D. Program in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 2017, where he received the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize for "extraordinary undergraduate research," was named a Harvard Undergraduate Science Research Fellow and a John Harvard Scholar, and was later named a visiting fellow in the Department of History where he worked with Gabriel Pizzorno. 

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