Computing Research News

February 2015     Vol. 27/No. 2

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Computing Visions 2025

By Beth Mynatt, CCC Vice Chair

The Computing Visions 2025 initiative is intended to inspire the computing community to envision future trends and opportunities in computing research. It started in November 2012 when the Assistant Director for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) at the time, Farnam Jahanian, engaged the CISE Advisory Council (AC) in a brainstorming event about CISE 10-15 years out.

The questions were:

Where is the computing field going over the next 10-15 years?

What are potential opportunities, disruptive trends, and blind spots?

Are there new questions and directions that deserve greater attention by the research community and new investments in computing research?

To answer these questions, the CISE AC Visions 2025 working group did some initial brainstorming and decided that they needed to continue this process with the broader community. A steering committee was formed with members of the CISE AC and the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) to create a set of workshops that catalyze cross-computing and cross-disciplinary discussions.

The first workshop, Interacting with the Computers All Around Us, was held in May 2014. It was followed closely by the second workshop, The New Making Renaissance: Programmable Matter and Things, in June 2014. The outcomes of these two workshops were discussed in a panel discussion at the Snowbird Conference in July, 2014.

The final Computing Visions 2025 event was a roundtable that was held January 23rd, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. Twenty-five participants from academia and industry discussed research themes that emerged from the first two 2025 workshops and pulled insights from a number of relevant CCC workshops (Extensible Distributed Systems, Aging in Place, BRAIN, Uncertainty in Computing).

These themes included the growing importance of integrating information about people and the physical world “up and down the stack” in many facets of computing research. The field should look to innovations in material science, AI and machine learning, and manufacturing as well as embrace the pervasiveness of computing in industry and society. Many hard problems remain, such as the difficulty in recognizing meaningful human activity and scaling computing systems across many dimensions.

Implications for the field also included the importance of interdisciplinary work, curating and publicizing data, the need for testbeds that reflect that changing face of computing systems, and the need for deeper collaborations across many industrial sectors. Contributions by computing researchers across scientific fields must be recognized in order for computing research to flourish alongside the pervasive importance of computing in industry and society.

The two workshops and roundtable will be summarized in a Visions 2025 report that will inform agencies and the computing community on the direction of the next generation. It will be distributed broadly with the community.

 At the Visions 2025 Roundtable, a graphic recorder listened to the discussions and sketched imagery to help the group visualize ideas.

 At the Visions 2025 Roundtable, a graphic recorder listened to the discussions and sketched imagery to help the group visualize ideas.

The FY2016 Budget Request for NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE)

By Jim Kurose, Assistant Director, National Science Foundation, CISE

Cover of NSF's FY16 budget request to CongressOn February 2, 2015, the President delivered his Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Budget Request to Congress. I am pleased to share with you key figures from the Request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the CISE directorate specifically. The Administration is requesting $7.7 billion for NSF. This includes $954.4 million for the CISE directorate – an increase of approximately $33 million or 3.5 percent above the FY 2015 Estimate. For more information, see

The Budget Request for CISE is shaped by investments in core research, education, and infrastructure activities, as well as by investments that support NSF-wide priorities and crosscutting activities, and address national priorities and societal challenges. The impact of past investments is profound, and CISE’s budget continues to see sustained increases in a relatively flat budget climate. Let me highlight a few aspects of the FY 2016 Budget Request for CISE below; for more information, see

Strong Commitment to the Core: The FY 2016 Budget Request continues CISE’s strong commitment to our core research programs across investment levels, from single-investigator research to center-scale activities, with increased support across all CISE divisions. These investments push the fundamental knowledge base of our discipline forward and build a solid foundation to support a thriving innovation ecosystem.

Growing Support for Advanced Cyberinfrastructure: The FY 2016 Budget Request for NSF includes significant support for advanced cyberinfrastructure, which is playing an increasingly important role in enabling computational and data-enabled discovery and innovation across all areas of science and engineering. CISE’s division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure will continue to invest in computational science, software, data, networking, and cybersecurity.

Continuing Crosscutting Investments: The Budget Request continues CISE’s leadership in a number of crosscutting areas and programs, which in many cases involve multiple NSF directorates and federal agencies, including Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC), Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), National Robotics Initiative (NRI), Critical Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data Science & Engineering (BIGDATA), and Smart and Connected Health (SCH). SaTC, which aims to secure our Nation’s cyberspace, is in partnership with the Education and Human Resources (EHR); Engineering (ENG); Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS); and Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) directorates. CPS is in collaboration with ENG and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Transportation (DOT), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH), and aims to deeply integrate computation, communication, and control into physical systems. NRI, in partnership with ENG, EHR, and SBE, and with several other agencies, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), NASA, NIH, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), aims to develop the next generation of collaborative robots to enhance personal safety, health, and productivity. BIGDATA is a collaboration across all NSF directorates, aiming to develop and apply fundamental techniques, theories, methodologies, and technologies to manage and analyze large, heterogeneous data. SCH, in partnership with ENG and SBE as well as NIH, aims to accelerate the development and use of innovative approaches that would support the much-needed transformation of healthcare from reactive and hospital-centered to preventive, proactive, evidence-based, person-centered and focused on wellbeing. The projects funded by these activities catalyze foundational computing research advances and address issues of major scientific, national, and societal importance.

CISE will also continue to participate in the NSF-wide priority area Understanding the Brain (UtB) by investing in cognitive science and neuroscience (including computational neuroscience) research, with the goal of developing a scientific understanding of the full complexity of the brain in action and in context. UtB is a key component of the Administration’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

New NSF Priority Investments: The FY 2016 Budget Request for NSF includes two new foundation-wide investment areas: Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) and NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners that have been Underrepresented for Diversity in Engineering and Science).

INFEWS aims to understand, design, and model the interconnected food, energy, and water system through an interdisciplinary research effort that incorporates all areas of science and engineering and addresses the natural, social, and human-built factors involved. The CISE investments in INFEWS will support research on the safety and security of food, energy, and water resources, as well as the systems that facilitate the production, distribution, and consumption of these resources. CISE researchers have long played a critical role in advancing research in these areas.

The aim of NSF INCLUDES is to develop a scalable, national initiative to increase the preparation, participation, advancement, and potential contributions of those who have been traditionally underserved and/or underrepresented in the STEM enterprise. In support of NSF INCLUDES, CISE will build on its strong history of commitment and leadership in broadening participation in computing.

Investments in CISE research, education, and infrastructure have returned exceptional dividends to our Nation. CISE foundational research seeds new programs and positions our community at the frontiers of knowledge, discovery, and innovation. I invite you to work with NSF to continue to demonstrate how computer and information science and engineering is intellectually exciting, highly creative, and interactive – with the power to change the world for decades to come.

CRA Introduces New Benefits for Members!

By CRA Staff

New this year, CRA members will receive priority acceptance, and a preferred CRA-Member rate to support eligible graduate students participation in the CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop.

Grad Cohort benefits will vary each year based on available funding. This year, CRA-W will fully fund three Grad Cohort applicants per department, and CRA-Members will have the option to fund any additional students at the preferred rate of $850 per person.

Another benefit to CRA-Members that we've recently added is the academic version of the 2015 CRA-W Grad Cohort Graduating Class document. It includes information about recent Grad Cohort Alums that are nearing graduation and are either 1) MS graduate students looking for PhD programs, or 2) PhD graduate students looking for faculty positions.

CRA-W and Microsoft recently collaborated to produce a video highlighting Grad Cohort. Check it out here.

CRA members and volunteers support:

  • Visioning future directions of the field
  • Ongoing initiatives that help shape public policy relevant to our community
  • Building a strong, diverse pipeline of students in the field

In addition to the many initiatives that CRA member dues support, our members receive the following direct member benefits:

  • Credits for job posting services
  • Reduced registration fees for CRA’s Conference at Snowbird and other workshops and seminars
  • Taulbee Survey results in mid-February (before May release)
  • The right to vote in CRA Board elections
  • Access to mailing lists (CRA Members List and CRA Forsythe List of North American Ph.D.-granting departments in computing-related disciplines.)

Click here for additional information about CRA Membership.

February 2015 CERP Infographic

Undergraduate computing students’ parental education level differs by ethnicity

By Jane Stout, CERP Director

Recently, 2776 computing majors reported their parents’ highest education level on CERP’s annual Data Buddies survey. African American and Latina/o students were significantly less likely than Asian American and Caucasian students to have at least one parent with with at least a Bachelor’s degree, p < .05. Further, Asian American and White students were significantly more likely to have at least one parent with a graduate degree, p < .05. Importantly, parental education level is positively correlated with the degree to which students perceived their family to be supportive of their decision to pursue a computing degree, p < .05. Given that parental support is an important predictor of persistence and confidence in students’ academic career, this discrepancy in students’ parental education level is important. That is, disparate parental education levels, as seen above, may help explain why African American and Latina/o students pursue computing careers at a lower rate than Asian American and Caucasian students.

These data are brought to you by the CRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP). CERP provides social science research and comparative evaluation for the computing community. To learn more about CERP, visit our website at

Extensible Distributed Systems Workshop

By The CCC Blog

Contributions to this post were made by Lorenzo Alvisi, Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Council Member and Professor in the Department of Computer Science at UT Austin and Robbert van Renesse, Principal Research Scientist in the Department of Computer Science at Cornell University.

Imagine slipping into a presentation that has already started and finding a seat in the back. The speaker is pointing at her slides explaining the diagram but you can barely hear her from the back of the room. All the sudden your cell phone, which you had placed on the table when you took your seat, begins to project the speaker’s voice. Now you can watch the speaker and hear her without any problems.

This is just an example of the opportunities and challenges that arise with Extensible Distributed Systems, a new generation of distributed systems that operate not simply from the cloud, but extend both to the portable computing devices that are increasingly everywhere around us (in our pockets, wrists, ankles, cars, homes, etc.) and indeed also to the very individuals that own, operate, depend upon, and even cuddle those devices.

Fifty participants from academia, industry, and government came to Arlington, Virginia January 21-22, 2015 to participate in a joint Cornell University, University of Texas at Austin, Computing Community Consortium (CCC), and National Science Foundation (NSF) workshop dedicated to discussing the research opportunities that this new class of distributed system enables. The workshop was centered around six big topic areas: pervasive systems, traditional distributed systems, software-defined networks, security, uncertainty, and analytics. Participants were instructed not to talk about their current ongoing projects but to delineate a forward-looking research agenda. Presentations and panelists touched on a diverse set of issues, from expanding the notion of scalability beyond the usual axes of performance and size so it includes scale across the planet’s cultural and income divides, to the implications of designing systems where humans are in the loop to an unprecedented degree.

The chance of unleashing a new wave of creativity by making extensible distributed systems easily programmable by non-specialists was palpable—and so were the challenges that stand in the way of that vision: programming abstractions that make it easy to compose modules to create richer applications; architectures that make mere humans able to manage and maintain the applications and the systems they run upon; tools that can be used to assess the safety and security of applications that interact with the physical world (would you download to your intelligent car an app that claims to make your auto-pilot feature more fuel efficient?).

A particularly engaging and stimulating feature of the workshop were the two “I have a Crazy Idea” sessions, which offered participants the opportunity to put forward five-minute pitches for truly radical visions of the future of distributed systems.

The presentations from the workshop panels and plenary talks will be posted on the workshop website in the coming weeks. A workshop report will be forthcoming and shared widely with the community.

NSF CISE CAREER Proposal Writing Workshop

By Thyaga Nandagopal, NSF Program Director for Computer and Network Systems

The NSF Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) will host a one-day workshop on CAREER Proposal Writing on March 16, 2015. This workshop will be held at the Arlington Hilton. The goal of this workshop is to introduce junior CAREER-eligible faculty to the NSF CAREER program and help them to prepare their CAREER proposals to target CISE programs. Attendees will have the opportunity to improve their skills in proposal writing, as well as to interact with NSF program directors from different CISE divisions (ACI, CCF, CNS, and IIS) and recent NSF CAREER awardees. The workshop includes presentations and discussions on proposal preparation, experience sharing, a mock panel, and meetings with Program Directors from various research programs within CISE. In order to attend this event, registration is required before February 20, 2015. For more information, please visit:

CRA Welcomes Melissa Borts

By CRA Staff

Melissa Borts just recently graduated from the University of Maryland (UMD) with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and a minor in Hearing and Speech Science. While at the University of Maryland, Melissa was involved in Sigma Delta Tau Sorority and the Women’s UMD Crew Team. After graduating, Melissa travelled through Cambodia, Vietnam and Shanghai for three weeks before starting at the Computing Research Association. Melissa is the Program Associate for CRA’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W), and works with Erik Russell, the Director of Programs, to plan and organize various activities and events for CRA-W including the upcoming Grad Cohort. Within her first three weeks of starting, Melissa has already made great strides- sending out Grad Cohort invitations, updating the CRA-W website, and creating a social media Twitter profile for CRA-W (@CRAWomen). As a new addition to CRA, Melissa is excited about attending conferences and events and meeting new people. Outside of CRA, Melissa enjoys traveling and being active, always looking for the next adventure!

Social Media @ CRA

By CRA Staff

CRA and its committees have a number of active social media initiatives to keep you informed. Stay up with the latest from CRA by subscribing to our groups!

Computing Research Association



February Announcements

By CRA Staff

 CRA Staff Tours the Computer Science Department at Johns Hopkins University





 Congratulations to Daniela Rus (CCC Council Member) who was recently named to the National Academy of Engineering for contributions to distributed robotic systems.


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