Basis Technology Corp.

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Basis Technology Corp.
Industry Information technology
Information access
Digital forensics
Founded 1995
Headquarters Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Area served
Key people
Carl Hoffman (CEO & Chair)
Steven Cohen (Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Co-Founder)
Brian Carrier (Chief Technology Officer)
Chris Mack (Vice President, Text Analytics)
Chris Biow (SVP, US Public Sector)
Daphne Kuo (Vice President, Chief Financial Officer)
Amy Silverstein (Vice President, General Counsel)
Products Rosette
Cyber Triage
Sleuth Kit

Basis Technology Corp. is a software company specializing in applying artificial intelligence techniques to understanding documents and unstructured data written in different languages. It has headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts and offices in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., London, and Tokyo.

The company was founded in 1995 by graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to use artificial intelligence techniques to help understand the many different languages that humans use. Its software focuses on finding structure inside text so algorithms can do a better job understanding the meaning of the words. The tools identify different forms of names and phrases. The name of someone, say Albert P. Jones for instance, can appear in many different ways. Some texts will call him "Al Jones", others "Mr. Jones" and others "Albert Paul Jons". Basis Technology's software can match all of these instances.

Their software enhances parsing tools by classifying the role of words and provides metadata on the role of words to other algorithms. Software from Basis Technology will, for instance, identify the language of an incoming stream of characters and then identify the parts of each sentence like the subject or the direct object.

The company is best known for its Rosette Linguistics Platform which uses Natural Language Processing techniques to improve information retrieval, text mining, search engines and other applications. The tool is used to create normalized forms of text by major search engines, and, translators.[citation needed] Basis Technology software is also used by forensic analysts to search through files for words, tokens, phrases or numbers that may be important to investigators.[citation needed]


The Rosette Linguistics Platform consists of a component library for multilingual text retrieval and analysis. Rosette provides automatic language identification, linguistic analysis, entity extraction, and entity translation from unstructured text. It can be integrated into applications to help analyse volumes of unstructured text.

The Rosette Linguistics Platform is composed of these modules:

  • Rosette Language Identifier looks at the structural and statistical signature of the file to identify the language. The pre-configured software can recognize 55 different languages with 45 different encodings.
  • Rosette Base Linguistics identifies the lemma or word stem after finding the tokens. Search is often faster and more accurate when words are grouped by their stem.[1]
  • Rosette Entity Extractor analyzes raw text and identifies the probable role that words and phrases play in the document, a key step that makes it possible for algorithms to distinguish between the various meanings that many words can have. Splitting the raw text into groups of words according to their role and then classifying their contribution to meaning is often called entity analysis. The Basis hybrid approach mixes statistical modeling with rules, regular expressions, and gazetteers, lists of special words that can be tuned to the language and text to be analyzed. The tool is designed to work directly with varied alphabets and multiple languages, an advantage because foreign words are often transliterated in multiple ways.[2] It is believed to be the first commercially available tool for analyzing Arabic text.[3]
  • Rosette Name Translator transliterates non-Latin alphabets like Arabic into a consistent Latin form.
  • Rosette Name Indexer enables simple search across name variations either by plugging into open source search engines or as a standalone service.[4]
  • Rosette Core Library for Unicode smooths the use of Unicode text.[clarification needed]
  • Rosette Chat Translator for Arabic converts words from the Arabic chat alphabet to Arabic.

The Rosette Platform is used in both the United States government offices to support translation and by major Internet infrastructure firms like search engines.[5][6]

Digital forensics[edit]

Basis Technology develops open-source digital forensics tools, The Sleuth Kit and Autopsy, to help identify and extract clues from data storage devices like hard disks or flash cards, as well as devices such as smart phones and iPods. The open-source licensing model allows them to be used as the foundation for larger projects like a Hadoop-based tool for massively parallel forensic analysis of very large data collections.

The digital forensics tool set is used to perform analysis of file systems, new media types, new file types and file system metadata. The tools can search for particular patterns in the files allowing it to target significant files or usage profiles. It can, for instance, look for common files using hash functions and also deconstruct the data structures of the important operating system log files.

The tools are designed to be customizable with an open plugin architecture. Basis Technology helps manage a large and diverse community of developers who use the tool in investigations.


Highlight is transliteration software designed to assist linguists and analysts standardize names and places, allowing them to concentrate on "connecting the dots". Highlight is a plug-in to Microsoft Office Excel and Word. Key features include:

Highlight can:

  • Resolve different spellings of foreign persons and places to standard forms.
  • Translate name lists, telephone directories, and personnel databases from foreign languages into English.
  • Connect place names appearing in reports with locations on maps.
  • Access the CIA's Chiefs of State list
  • Brochure for Highlight


  1. ^ Erard, Michael (March 1, 2004). "Translation in the Era of Terror". Technology Review. 
  2. ^ Boyd, Clark (January 14, 2004). "Language tools for fight on terror". BBC News. 
  3. ^ Weiss, Todd R. (March 10, 2003). "Language analysis software aids U.S. Web search for terrorist activity". Computerworld. 
  4. ^ Profile in Boston Business Journal
  5. ^ Hollmer, Mark (March 21, 2003). "Basis Technology turns its focus to government security". Boston Business Journal. 
  6. ^ Baker, Loren (November 30, 2004). "MSN Search Engine Uses Basis Technology for Natural Language Processing". Search Engine Journal. 

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