Brown Dog: Making the digital world a better place, a few files at a time

Sandeep Puthanveetil Satheesan, Benjamin Galewsky, Jong Lee, M. Christopher, Bing Zhang, Jay Alameda, Gregory Jansen, Richard Marciano, Arthur Schmidt, Yan Zhao, Shannon Bradley, Rob Kooper, Luigi Marini, Marcus Slavenas, Inna Zharnitsky, Michael Dietze, Praveen Kumar, Barbara S Minsker, William C. Sullivan, Kenton McHenry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Brown Dog is a data transformation service for auto-curation of long-tail data. In this digital age, we have more data available for analysis than ever and this trend will only increase. According to most estimates, 70-80% of this data is unstructured, and together with unsupported data formats and inaccessible software tools, in essence, this data is not either easily accessible or usable to its owners in a meaningful way. Brown Dog aims at making this data more accessible and usable by auto-curation and indexing, leveraging existing and novel data transformation tools. In this paper, we discuss the recent major component improvements to Brown Dog including transformation tools called extractors and converters; desktop, web and terminal-based clients which perform data transformations; libraries written in multiple programming languages which integrate with existing software and extend their data curation capabilities; an online tool store for users to contribute, manage and share data transformation tools and receive credit for developing them; cyberinfrastructure for deploying the system on diverse computing platforms leveraging scalability via Docker swarm;workflow management service for creatively integrating existing transformations to generate custom, reproducible workflows which meet research needs, and its data management capabilities. This paper also discusses data transformation tools developed to support some\ scientific and allied use cases, thereby benefiting researchers in diverse domains. Finally, we briefly discuss our future directions with regard to production deployments as well as how users can access Brown Dog to manage their un-curated unstructured data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPractice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing 2018
Subtitle of host publicationSeamless Creativity, PEARC 2018
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Print)9781450364461
StatePublished - Jul 22 2018
Event2018 Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing Conference: Seamless Creativity, PEARC 2018 - Pittsburgh, United States
Duration: Jul 22 2017Jul 26 2017

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Other2018 Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing Conference: Seamless Creativity, PEARC 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • API gateway
  • Auto-curation
  • Big data
  • Data conversion
  • Data curation
  • Data cyberinfrastructure
  • Data transformation
  • Data wrangling
  • Metadata extraction
  • Orchestration
  • Provenance
  • Unstructured data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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