This article is published in the November 2010 issue.

Turning Visions into Federal Programs


Three years into a joint experiment by the National Science Foundation and the Computing Research Association, the Computing Community Consortium continues to mobilize the community to debate long-range research challenges and to build consensus around specific research visions. In addition, consistent with its overall mission, the CCC is articulating these visions to newly cultivated contacts among Federal funding agencies in Washington.

With the help of leading researchers within the field, the CCC led the preparation of a series of ‘White Papers’ on data analytics1 this past summer. These papers describe data mining, machine learning, predictive modeling, etc., in the context of specific national priorities, including healthcare, new biology, twenty-first century data-enabled science (or eScience), intelligence and national security, new transportation, education, and energy. They link research challenges in data analytics to the missions of Federal funding agencies, including the NSF, the National Institutes of Health, the Departments of Energy, Education, and Transportation, and a number of agencies working to preserve the nation’s security. The CCC delivered these reports to Tom Kalil—Deputy Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)—just as OSTP and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) began formulating the Federal R&D portfolio for FY 2012.

Thanks to the efforts of Henrik Christensen of the Georgia Institute of Technology, the CCC-led Robotics roadmap2 has garnered tremendous interest throughout the government.  The heads of OSTP and OMB identified robotics as one of the administration’s R&D priorities for FY 2012, and on September 15, OSTP announced a new initiative3 called RTD2:  Research for Robotics.  Five agencies—NIH, the Department of Defense, NSF, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Homeland Security—issued a joint solicitation for small business research on a wide range of topics, including robot-assisted rehabilitation, robotics for drug discovery, and robots that can disarm explosive devices. Letters of intent are due November  20, and full applications must be submitted by 5pm local time on December 20. Moreover, OSTP’s Tom Kalil announced in a recent blog post, “Expect to see more to come in the months ahead from a newly energized and collaborative Federal robotics community!”

Building on the success of the robotics visioning effort, the CCC has continued to support other community-led visioning exercises. Mark Oskin of the University of Washington and Josep Torrellas of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign co-organized the second workshop in a series on Advancing Computer Architecture Research on September 20-21 in Seattle.  About 20 leading computer architecture researchers laid out a vision for computer architecture for 2025 and beyond, including specific technology drivers, application drivers, and metrics and goals for success along the way. Meanwhile, Dan Olsen of Brigham Young University organized visioning workshops on Interactive Systems Architectures (August 11-13, Jackson, WY) and Persuasive Experiences (September 23-25, Burbank, CA). Leading interactive technology experts envisioned a world in which information and interaction readily flow from person to person and device to device with few walls or barriers.  Early reports from these two workshops have been posted to the CCC Blog.4 A third workshop—titled Ultra-Large Scale Interaction—will be held in Chicago on October 25-27, and Olsen and his colleagues will prepare a roadmap afterward. (To learn more about how you can propose and lead a visioning activity, please see.5)

Finally, the CCC is forging new contacts with other Federal agencies and offices.  Recent efforts have included meetings on health information technology R&D with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT; on ways to bridge collaborations between computer scientists and social scientists with NSF’s Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE); and on an education technology roadmap6 to the Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology.

We welcome your involvement! To learn more about the CCC, please visit our website today:  https://turing.cra.org/ccc.


Dr. Erwin Gianchandani is the Director of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) and the Computing Innovation Fellows Project.
Dr. Ed Lazowska
 is Chair of the CCC Council and Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington.

Notes:

[1] http://archive.cra.org/ccc/initiatives.php.

[2] https://turing.cra.org/ccc/robotics.php.

[3] http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/09/15/rtd2-research-robotics.

[4] http://www.cccblog.org.

[5] http://www.cra.org/ccc/vision.php.

[6] http://archive.cra.org/ccc/groe.php.

Turning Visions into Federal Programs