The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced its newest foundation-wide, multi-disciplinary initiative, “Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI),” released as a solicitation http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsf07603/nsf07603.htm. In a nutshell, CDI is computational thinking for science and engineering. Computational thinking refers to what the CISE community does in research and education on a daily basis: creating and creatively using computational concepts, methods, models, algorithms, and tools.
Computing Research News
Archive of articles published in the 2007 issue.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center, primarily sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and devoted to service, research, and education in atmospheric and related sciences. NCAR’s mission is to understand the behavior of the atmosphere and associated physical, biological and social systems and to support and extend the capabilities of the university community and broader national and international scientific communities by providing access to large-scale facilities, tools, and expertise. NCAR’s activities as an integrator, innovator and community builder contribute to the development of predictive Earth system science that can help sustain Earth’s habitability, improve environmental quality, safeguard human health, reduce the impacts of natural disasters, and increase economic productivity.
As we know, women are a minority in the computer science community. Several organizations, such as CRA-W, ACM-W, the Anita Borg Institute, and the National Center for Women in Technology, have diverse efforts underway to increase the number of women in all fields of computer science. In addition to these field-wide efforts, we should assist women in finding female role models, female mentors, and/or female peers within their particular research discipline in order to reduce the isolation that many women researchers feel. This can best be achieved through communities that connect women in the same discipline, and several recent efforts have been underway to stimulate such discipline-specific communities. For example, CRA-W and CDC have, with NSF support, sponsored workshops targeted at women and under-represented minorities in computer architecture (July 2006) and in programming languages (May 2007).
In answering “What is computable?” we must consider the underlying machine, abstract or physical, that is the computer. Consider the Internet as a computer. Now ask “What is computable?” Consider a molecular computer, a DNA computer, or even a quantum computer. If those kinds of computers are not mind-bending enough for you, consider a human and a machine working together as a single computer to solve problems that neither can solve alone. Now ask “What is computable?”
My friend, Ray Ozzie, the creator of Lotus Notes and now Microsoft’s chief architect, relates a wonderful story about his undergraduate experience, when he worked as part of the Plato¹ project at the University of Illinois. Plato, you may recall, was an early computer-aided instruction (CAI) system that included touch-sensitive plasma displays (a precursor to today’s plasma televisions), computer-synthesized music, a chat system, message boards and email. A thriving electronic community grew up around Plato, which shaped the professional lives of many—more on that shortly.
Despite a lack of progress in August and September towards resolving the veto threat causing a logjam in the FY 2008 federal appropriations process, many in the science advocacy community did have reason to celebrate. In early August, the President signed into law a landmark science and education authorization bill aimed at bolstering U.S. innovation and preserving American competitiveness.
Talented young people are turned off by computing’s image. Between 2000 and 2005, interest in computer science as a major among incoming freshmen fell 70 percent as “image” quickly became a primary concern across academic institutions, corporations, computing associations, and government agencies.
There are many sources for salaries in the information technology sector. Most focus on specific occupations or types of industry. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports starting salary offers to new college graduates at the bachelor’s degree level. The survey collects data from college and university career services offices.
In late May, the National Science Foundation, through its directorate on Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), and BBN Technologies announced a cooperative agreement for BBN to operate the GENI Project Office. This announcement came a few months after the announcement of the GENI Science Council (operating under the auspices of the CRA’s Computing Community Consortium). Together the announcements represent a significant step forward in the GENI’s evolution from an idea to reality.
In January 1993, Elaine Weyuker wrote an article for this column in CRN titled “Childcare an Issue for Conference Attendees,” making a powerful case for support for childcare at conferences (see: 1993 Article). Almost fifteen years later, that article remains relevant. The original article focused on on-site childcare, but similar observations apply for caregiver support for other needs, such as those of the physically disabled.
We humans are not particularly good predictors of change, particularly exponential change. We tend to extrapolate tomorrow from today—geometrically, two points do define a straight line, after all. In the near term, that is a safe and reasonable expedient. However, we, of all disciplines, know that the pace of change is accelerating, with ever greater global connections and greater social, economic and scientific interdependence. In turn, this has profound implications for computing education, research, employment and societal engagement.