Link analysis is the process of building up networks of interconnected objects or items over time and the use of special techniques and software tools for forming, examining, modifying, analyzing, searching, and displaying these patterns of behavior, especially for the investigative data miner. These objects or items may consist of entities, events, and associations. Typically, the entities of interest include:
Places, such as a physical or IP address, or geo code coordinate, such as latitude
Organizations, such as cells, gangs, governments, commercial or military units
Facilities, such as factories, airports, hotels, schools, warehouses
Individuals, such as names, titles, or identification numbers
Components, such as chemicals, fertilizers, masks, acids
Documents, such as passports, driver licenses, e-mails
Money, such as cash, wire transfers, money orders
Weapons, such as guns, knifes, rifles, bombs
Vehicles, such as planes, trucks, boats, cars
Drugs, such as type, weight, source
Additionally, for entities, such as a suspect, other more detailed dimensions may be available, such as name, aliases, gender, membership, affiliation, relegion, marital status, citizenship, race, date of birth, occupation, country of origin, hair color, eye color, height, weight, countries visited, among other things.
For events the nature of the investigation is the determiner of the dimensions in the data. For example, for counter-drug analysts, this may include processing, purchasing, transportation of drugs, planning, meeting, cartel association, region affiliation, training or educational background, military background, and communication about drugs. On the other hand, for counter-terrorist intelligence analysts those events may include the dimensions of training in weapons and tactics, affiliations to groups, place of birth, bombing, hijacking, killing, hostage-taking, countries visited, buying and stealing of weapons, the sending and receiving of money, and the purchases of materials for the assembling of weapons of mass destruction.