This article is published in the November 2012 issue.

Highlighting Opportunities for the CISE Community

Computing, communication, and information technology are at the center of an ongoing societal transformation, form a pervasive intellectual fabric that connect a wide range of disciplines, and are crucial to achieving national priorities.  Though many program solicitations launched over the last year have aimed to support this position for our discipline, let me highlight two recently announced exciting opportunities: Exploiting Parallelism and Scalability (XPS), and Cyber-Enabled Sustainability Science and Engineering (CyberSEES).

The Exploiting Parallelism and Scalability (XPS) program aims to address a central challenge created by the end of the exponential growth in microprocessor performance (aka, Moore’s law). While transistor density continues to scale, power dissipation levels that led processor performance leveled out.  Our ability to achieve predictable performance improvements through traditional processor technologies has significant challenges. To avoid a crisis and to continue improving performance, we need a new era of computing driven by novel, groundbreaking research in all areas impacting parallel performance and scalability.  The XPS program is part of NSF’s strategy for dealing with this issue as outlined in the Advanced Computing Infrastructure: Vision and Strategic Plan published in February 2012.

XPS aims to re-examine the traditional computer hardware and software stack for today’s heterogeneous parallel systems and explores new cross-layer approaches.  This program was developed with significant input from the community, including the 21st Century Computer Architecture community white paper commissioned by the Computing Community Consortium and the 2011 National Research Council report, The Future of Computing Performance: Game Over or Next Level?.

The program solicits research in four focus areas: (1) research on foundational principles, (2) cross-layer and cross-cutting approaches, (3) scalable distributed architectures, and (4) domain-specific design.  Achieving the breakthroughs the XPS solicitation seeks will require a collaborative effort among researchers representing all areas from the application layer down to the micro-architecture.  Hence, each proposal is required to have two or more PIs providing different and distinct expertise relevant to the program’s focus areas bringing different perspectives needed to re-design the traditional computer hardware and software stack.

The Cyber-Enabled Sustainability Science and Engineering (CyberSEES) program, part of NSF’s Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) portfolio, focuses on the central role that computational and data-enabled approaches play in understanding and achieving sustainability.  CyberSEES addresses the national priority of sustainability, an urgent and important area to ensure human needs are met equitably without harm to the environment or sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  This program was developed with significant input from the community, including the 2011workshop on the Role of Information Sciences and Engineering in Sustainability(RISES)and the 2012 National Research Council report, Computing Research for Sustainability.

Many sustainability challenges require concepts central to computer and information science, including scale, heterogeneity, complexity, data sizes, and reliability.  CyberSEES aims to advance interdisciplinary research in which the science and engineering of sustainability are enabled by new advances in computational and data-enabled approaches, and where research discoveries and engineering innovations are grounded in the context of sustainability problems. Areas of focus include: optimization, modeling, simulation, prediction, and inference; large-scale data management and analytics; advanced sensing techniques; human computer interaction and social computing; infrastructure design, control and management; and intelligent systems and decision-making.

CyberSEES is a collaborative effort between NSF and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC)through its Energy Research Initiative (ERI) program.  While the scope of CyberSEES is broad, the NSF and SRC ERI collaboration within CyberSEES focuses on cyber-enabled sustainability research that addresses computational aspects of smart infrastructures, in particular the smart electric grid.  A webinar to provide more information about CyberSEES will be held on November 19, 2012 at 4PM EST.  For more information or to register, please visit the NSF CISE webpage.

CISE’s investments in research and education have returned exceptional dividends to our Nation.  A thriving research community focused on foundational principles is a crucial driver for long-term discovery and innovation, economic prosperity, and national security.  I encourage you to publicize these two new and unique funding opportunities to ensure groundbreaking progress will be made to advance research and education.

Highlighting Opportunities for the CISE Community