Super search

Unique software devised by Ulster University researchers has won the top prize at this year’s 25k Award organised by the Northern Ireland Science Park.


Unique software devised by Ulster University (UU) researchers has won the top prize at this year’s 25k Award organised by the Northern Ireland Science Park.


Invented by a team of three UU researchers in collaboration with St Petersburg State University, Russia, the so-called SOPHIA software automatically trawls through documents to build structure by discovering key themes that naturally exist within them. Documents are then associated with the theme they are most closely aligned to with respect to their semantic content. When a user requests information, SOPHIA returns the themes that most closely match their needs.


It is currently being trialled by a major international newspaper and the researchers have formed a company to take the technology to market.


‘SOPHIA is designed to meet the demands of today’s businesses where the sheer volume of unstructured digital information that is created and stored puts enormous stress on the organisation,’ said Dr David Patterson, one of the creators of the software.


‘It not only provides a high quality search, but also facilitates an understanding of the meaning of documents within an organisation, leading to better decision making. This is what differentiates SOPHIA from the competition and the reason why it is attracting so much interest from the marketplace,’ he added.


The winning team consists of a partnership between Dr David Patterson, Niall Rooney and Mykola Galushka, who are based in the Technology and Engineering Innovation Centre (TEIC), Jordanstown campus, and Vladamir Dobrynim, St Petersburg State University, Russia.


The initial research for the project was carried out in the Northern Ireland Knowledge Engineering Lab (NIKEL), part of the university’s School of Computing and Mathematics.


The team set up SOPHIA Search as a spin-out company in August 2007.