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Computer system to reconstruct 100,000 ancient Jewish documents found in Egypt

By Mason White 5:29 PM May 27, 2013
Document of Cairo genizeh 

By: Shifra Unger
(Scroll down for video) An entire cache of ancient Jewish documents that was found in Cairo, Egypt, will now be pieced together by a new computer program, according to a statement released by Tel Aviv University.

Researchers have spent years trying to reconstruct the Cairo genizah, a centuries old collection of more than 100,000 documents on early Jewish life and customs.

Today, these documents are fragmented and scattered throughout the world, making it difficult for scholars to catalog them manually. However, some see hope in a new artificial intelligence program able to explore and combine fragments from the genizah in minutes.

Tel Aviv University researchers have created a network of 100 computers running artificial intelligence software that performs 4.5 trillion calculations per second. The idea is to apply an automated method for scientific processes.

“In one hour, the team can compare 10 million pairs to 10 million pairs, something that a human being cannot do in his entire life,” Roni Shwek, one of the project leaders, said. “It will be a very powerful tool for all researchers of today who will be working on a piece. In a few seconds, you will be able to find other fragments, like finding the needle in the hay,” Shwek also said.

“I am very excited, as I love studying ancient Jewish text and documents. As soon as it goes live, I will be spending lots of time on this for sure,” David Korn, 46, of Brooklyn, New York told after learning about the new computer program.Mobile video not loading? Click here to view