CRA Quadrennial Papers

Every four years the Computing Research Association, through its subcommittees, publishes a series of white papers called Quadrennial Papers that explore areas and issues around computing research with potential to address national priorities. The white papers attempt to portray a comprehensive picture of the computing research field detailing potential research directions, challenges, and recommendations for policymakers and the computing research community. Our 2020 Quadrennial Papers cover five thematic areas: Core Computer Science, Broad Computing, Socio-Technical Computing, Diversity & Education, and Artificial Intelligence.

Core Computer Science

  • Post Quantum Cryptography: Readiness Challenges and the Approaching Storm

    Authors: Matt Campagna (Amazon), Brian LaMacchia (Microsoft Research), and David Ott (VMware Research)

    Few people are aware that each advancement we make in quantum computing brings us closer to a complete breakdown of our digital security and privacy. As quantum-driven advancements in cryptographic analysis and computing technology are achieved, the cryptographic algorithms that protect our private online information and data is threatened.  This paper identifies issues that need to be addressed before the quantum transition, particularly in identifying a replacement for current cryptography algorithms and ensuring a safe transition of uses.

  • Theoretical Computer Science: Foundations for an Algorithmic World

    Authors: Shuchi Chawla (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Jelani Nelson (UC Berkeley), Chris Umans (California Institute of Technology), and David Woodruff (Carnegie Mellon University)

    This paper presents the case for robust support of research and funding of foundational work in Theoretical Computer Science (TCS), highlighting three major areas of current interest in the field. Work in this discipline benefits the entire field of computer science by offering insights to the possibilities and limitations of computation, identifying key issues in new areas and discerning computation and algorithms in settings beyond computer science.

  • Computing Research Challenges in Next Generation Wireless Networking

    Authors: Elisa Bertino (Purdue University), Daniel Bliss (Arizona State University), Daniel Lopresti (Lehigh University), Larry Peterson (Princeton University), and Henning Schulzrinne (Columbia University)

    Wireless networking has seen explosive growth over the past decade and continues to evolve rapidly. Cellular technology is now progressing from 4G and its potential for broadband speeds to mobile devices, to 5G which will further enhance transmission speeds, cell capacity, and latency through the use of different radio technologies. 6G is already envisioned to employ virtualization across all layers and the pervasive deployment of AI. On the hardware side, new classes of highly flexible application specific processors (ASICs) are being developed, driving further progress. In addition, deep programmability will open up enormous opportunities to manage the complexity and harness the power of the new network infrastructure. This paper explores these key technologies and outlines a research agenda to make them a reality.

  • Advancing Computing’s Foundation of US Industry & Society

    Authors: Thomas Conte (Georgia Institute of Technology), Ian Foster (University of Chicago), William Gropp (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign), and Mark Hill (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

    As the 55-year reign of Moore’s Law comes to an end, new computing techniques will be required in order to continue the improvement of computer speed and performance. This paper outlines a number of techniques that will lead to advancements in the computing field and benefits society as a whole.

Broad Computer Science

  • Pandemic Informatics: Preparation, Robustness and Resilience

    Authors: Elizabeth Bradley (University of Colorado Boulder), Madhav Marathe (University of Virginia), Melanie Moses (University of New Mexico), William Gropp (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign), and Dan Lopresti (Lehigh University) 

    In light of the recent pandemic, this paper outlines an effective strategy to reduce the impact of global pandemics stressing early detection, predicting the public’s reaction and developing effective policies. These aims require research and technological advancements in a number of areas, particularly in how informatic infrastructure can be used to assist in global outbreaks and better prepare for the next health crisis.

    [Update 1] Pandemic Informatics: Vaccine Distribution, Logistics, and Prioritization
    Several months later, the pandemic is still ongoing but we are facing a new and different set of challenges that are both surprising and yet also somehow predictable. The authors of the paper have produced a March 22nd, 2021 Addendum to address current issues.

    [Update 2] Pandemic Informatics: Variants of Concern (VOC)
    A year ago, few experts correctly predicted the toll the pandemic has now taken, nor the extraordinarily rapid development and administration of effective vaccines. Scientists have dramatically increased understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, treatment, and vaccines. Yet, where the pandemic will be a year from now remains very difficult to predict, due in large part to rapidly spreading variants of concern (VOC). The authors of the paper have produced an April 22, 2021 Addendum.

  • A Research Ecosystem for Secure Computing

    Authors: Nadya Bliss (Arizona State University), Lawrence A. Gordon (University of Maryland), Daniel Lopresti (Lehigh University), Fred Schneider (Cornell University), and Suresh Venkatasubramanian (University of Utah)

    In today’s world tech developers are more focused on the capabilities of the technology rather than the security. This paper stresses the importance of prioritizing security in the design phase and identifies specific focus areas for research and funding that touch on transition and adoption, training/education, and incentive structures for better security.

  • Infrastructure for AI/Quantum/HPC

    Authors: Sujata Banerjee (VMware Research), William Gropp (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign), and Ian Foster (University of Chicago) 

    This paper breaks down the barriers separating AI, Quantum, and High Performance Computing (HPC). It calls for combining resources to support these critical areas, and highlights synergies between them. The goal is to bridge current gaps between these three areas and use the infrastructure from one discipline to catalyze progress in another.

  • Robotics Enabling the Workforce

    Authors: Henrik Christensen (UC San Diego), Maria Gini (University of Minnesota), Odest Chadwicke Jenkins (University of Michigan), and Holly Yanco (University of Massachusetts, Lowell)

    This paper portrays how robotics can aid and leverage the workforce by increasing automation and providing new opportunities for workers. It outlines necessary investments in research, technology development, education, training and policy, but most critically, we need research to understand how future robot technologies can compliment our workforce to get the best of both human and automated labor.

Socio-Technical Computing

  • An Agenda for Disinformation Research

    Authors: Nadya Bliss (Arizona State University), Elizabeth Bradley (University of Colorado, Boulder), Joshua Garland (Santa Fe Institute), Filippo Menczer (Indiana University), Scott Ruston (Arizona State University), Kate Starbird (University of Washington), and Chris Wiggins (Columbia University)

    This paper describes a multi-disciplinary research agenda incorporating disinformation detection, education, measurements of impact, and a new common research infrastructure to combat disinformation and its effects upon the US and the world.

  • Modernizing Data Control: Making Personal Digital Data Mutually Beneficial for Citizens and Industry

    Authors: Sujata Banerjee (VMware Research), Yiling Chen (Harvard University), Kobbi Nissim (Georgetown University), David Parkes (Harvard University), Katie Siek (Indiana University Bloomington), and Lauren Wilcox (Georgia Institute of Technology)

    Via the Internet and IoT systems, there is an increasing amount of data being collected on individuals every day. This paper dives into the big questions related to this phenomenon, such as who owns the data, the implications for using, controlling, and quantifying the data, and, most importantly, how to best protect citizens’ privacy.

Diversity & Education

  • New Pathways for Workforce Diversification

    Authors: Raja Kushalnagar (Gallaudet University), Maria Gini (University of Minnesota), and Patty Lopez (Intel Corporation)

    Diversity enhances computing creativity. This paper recommends computing workforce diversification support through proven strategies of funding Masters programs at institutions committed to diversity, such as Minority Serving Institutions and Special Institutions, or in providing stipend funding for women, black, indigenous and other people of color, or people with disabilities for Masters or undergraduate research programs.

  • Addressing the National Need for Increasing the Domestic PhD Yield in Computer Science

    Authors: Susanne Hambrusch (Purdue University), Lori Pollock (University of Delaware), Ran Libeskind-Hadas (Harvey Mudd College), and Christine Alvarado (University of California, San Diego)

    The continuing demand for PhDs in computer science combined with this instability of international student participation requires bold action to increase the number of domestic students completing a PhD in computer science, especially as the  percentage of domestic PhD students has decreased from 69% in 1985 to 37% in 2018.  This report presents bold ideas on how government, industry, and academia can take action to engage domestic students to enter PhD programs and retain them through graduation.  It focuses on increasing opportunities and funding for undergraduate research, creating new pathways into PhD programs, engaging students from admissions through PhD, and strengthening industry’s role in increasing the number of PhDs in CS.

  • Fostering a Postgraduate Tech Boom

    Authors: Jan Cuny (Northeastern University), Andrea Danyluk (Williams College), and Holly Rushmeier (Yale University)

    In order to maintain its political and economic position in the world, and for that position to benefit its citizens, the United States must build and retain the strongest and most innovative tech talent at all levels. While the CS4All movement is increasing the preparation of current K-12 students for future tech careers, the U.S. cannot wait for future generations to fill the current tech gap. Today’s post-graduate population represents a valuable untapped resource for the country’s workforce needs. This paper outlines opportunities and requirements to fill the tech gap with individuals who bring to the field a diversity of experience and perspectives to fuel innovation, as well as overcome problems of social justice and equity.

Artificial Intelligence

  • Artificial Intelligence at the Edge

    Authors: Sujata Banerjee (VMware Research) and Elisa Bertino (Purdue University)

    Could AI better support societal needs if it were deployed at the edge of the network, close to application end-points, as opposed to in a centralized cloud? This white paper examines those potential uses and identifies requirements and areas of research that need to be explored before implementation of AI systems at the edge can be realized.

  • Artificial Intelligence and Cooperation

    Authors: Elisa Bertino (Purdue University), Finale Doshi-Velez (Harvard University), Maria Gini (University of Minnesota), Daniel Lopresti (Lehigh University), and David Parkes (Harvard University)

    This paper argues for further research in AI and human cooperation in order to understand the ways in which systems of AIs and people, working together, can engender cooperative behavior. Through a set of illustrative examples, a broad research agenda for this goal is laid out incorporating aspects of AI architectures, collaborative human-AI systems, economic viewpoints, and human preferences and control.

  • The Rise of AI-Driven Simulators: Building a New Crystal Ball

    Authors: Ian Foster (University of Chicago), David Parkes (Harvard University), and Stephan Zheng (Salesforce AI Research)

    Simulations are now pervasive throughout human society and the economy, providing decision makers with a remarkable crystal ball—not just for next week’s weather but also for the spread of a disease through a population. This paper lays out the importance of AI-driven simulators, describing challenges, accomplishments, and a potential research agenda in order to realize the full potential of simulation predictions.

  • Next Wave Artificial Intelligence: Robust, Explainable, Adaptable, Ethical, and Accountable

    Authors: Odest Chadwicke Jenkins (University of Michigan), Daniel Lopresti (Lehigh University), and Melanie Mitchell (Portland State University and Santa Fe Institute)

    This paper describes the history and limitations of today’s AI systems, such as brittleness, weakness against adversarial attacks, and the difficulties of system training. It names a series of recommendations and focus areas for research necessary to catalyze  this new wave of AI.

  • Interdisciplinary Approaches to Understanding AI’s Impact on Society

    Authors: Suresh Venkatasubramanian (University of Utah), Nadya Bliss (Arizona State University), Helen Nissenbaum (Cornell University), and Melanie Moses (University of New Mexico)

    Among the convenience and opportunities that AI brings to the table, these systems also produce a multitude of problems including seemingly racial or gender-biased algorithms, infringements on citizens’ privacy or freedom or deepening inequalities among different groups. This paper calls for an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates the expertise from a broad set of disciplines and application domains to gain a deeper understanding of how technology and society interact in order to avoid these negative impacts from AI technologies.

Additional Papers

  • Imagine All the People: Citizen Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Computational Research

    Authors: Lea A. Shanley (University of Wisconsin-Madison; International Computer Science Institute, Berkeley, CA), Lucy Fortson (University of Minnesota), Tanya Berger-Wolf (The Ohio State University), Kevin Crowston (Syracuse University), Pietro Michelucci (Human Computation Institute)

    Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and deep learning have advanced significantly over the past decade. Nonetheless, humans possess unique abilities such as creativity, intuition, context and abstraction, analytic problem solving, and detecting unusual events. To successfully tackle pressing scientific and societal challenges, we need the complementary capabilities of both humans and machines.

  • Taking Stock of the Present and Future of Smart Technologies for Older Adults and Caregivers

    Authors: Christina N. Harrington (DePaul University), Ben Jelen (Indiana University), Amanda Lazar (University of Maryland), Aqueasha Martin-Hammond (Indiana University Purdue University – Indianapolis), Alisha Pradhan (University of Maryland), Blaine Reeder (University of Missouri), and Katie Siek (Indiana University)

    Older adults should be involved in the design process of technology for them – from initial ideation to product development to deployment. This paper encourages federally funded researchers and industry to create compensated, diverse older adult advisory boards to address stereotypes about aging while ensuring their needs are considered.