Richie Bartlett Jr.

DARPA = Open source?

DARPA publishes all its open source code in one place

darpa logo | wikimedia

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, sponsors a lot of technology through grants to universities and private labs, with projects running the gamut from robots to electroencephalography caps, to software and new programming languages. A lot of that knowledge is open source, but it hasn’t always been easy to access. Today, DARPA has responded to requests from the research and development community by publishing the DARPA Open Catalog, a website that aggregates source code and other data for all public DARPA-funded projects.

“Making our open source catalog available increases the number of experts who can help quickly develop relevant software for the government,” Chris White, the DARPA program manager behind the effort, said in a statement. “Our hope is that the computer science community will test and evaluate elements of our software and afterward adopt them as either standalone offerings or as components of their products.”

The catalog launched with more than 60 projects, many of which have an emphasis on organizing large sets of data, including the Vowpal Wabbit, a fast out-of-core learning system sponsored by Microsoft Research and Yahoo Research, and the MIT-developed dynamic language Julia.

DARPA is primarily a division of the defense department, tasked with creating technological surprise for enemies and preventing them from surprising us. But it also seeds very ambitious technology that makes its way into consumer applications; the internet and GPS are two big examples.

If the research community responds well to the first iteration of the catalog, DARPA says it will continue to publish information about its projects, including software, publications, data, and experimental results.