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<< Back to March 2004 CRN Table of Contents

[Published originally in the March 2004 edition of Computing Research News, Vol. 16/No. 2.]

NSF/CISE Plans for FY2005

By Kamal Abdali, Gregory Andrews, Mari Maeda, Michael Pazzani

At the National Science Foundation, the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) began operating with a new organizational structure in November 2003. This has resulted in numerous changes to date. Several more will occur over the next year. This column describes our plans for the coming year in order to give the community advance notice.


The CISE Directorate was created in 1985, and a relatively minor reorganization took place in 1997. Needless to say, a lot has happened in the past 19 years-or even the past seven. The 2003 reorganization was driven by changes to the field and by four additional objectives: 1) enhance the research portfolio by strengthening the core and addressing important new challenges; 2) increase the synergy between research and education; 3) broaden participation in the CISE workforce; and 4) improve organizational effectiveness. To meet these objectives, we have realigned divisions to mirror the structure of the field, grouped related research topics into clusters, and begun to develop themes for important, crosscutting initiatives.

The CISE home page,, reflects the current status of the organization. The remainder of this article summarizes our plans for the divisions and clusters, and hence what the organization will look like for FY 2005, which begins October 1, 2004. The four crosscutting emphases for FY04-Cyber Trust, Education and Workforce, Information Integration, and Science of Design-are described in previous or forthcoming issues of CRN and on the CISE web site.

Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF)

CCF supports research and education activities that explore the foundations of computing and communication devices and their usage. CCF inherited many of its activities from the former Division of Computer-Communications Research (CCR), including numeric, symbolic, and geometric computation; software engineering; programming languages and compilers; computer architecture; design automation; signal processing; and communication. CCF has added advanced computational techniques from the former Division of Advanced Computational Infrastructure and Research (ACIR), and quantum and bio-inspired computing from the former Division of Experimental and Integrative Activities (EIA). CCR's systems-oriented programs have moved to the Computer and Network Systems (CNS) division. These additions and subtractions have made CCF a more cohesive division devoted to the foundational issues in computing and communication.

CCF is organized into three clusters:

  • Formal and Mathematical Foundations. This cluster seeks to determine inherent limits of computation and communication, and to obtain optimal solutions within those limits. Topics include theory of computing; fundamental algorithms; application-specific theory; and theory, algorithms, and applications for communications research and signal processing.
  • Computing Processes and Artifacts: This cluster seeks to advance methodologies pertaining to the artifacts and processes for building computing and communication systems. Topics include software engineering; design and implementation of programming languages; high performance computing; computer architecture; design automation; and computer graphics and visualization.
  • Emerging Models and Technologies for Computation: This cluster seeks to explore computational models, techniques, and systems based on emerging and future technologies. Topics include nanotechnology, quantum computing and communication, and computational devices and architectures inspired by the processing of information in living matter.

We were able to transition completely from programs into clusters this year, and to issue one program announcement per cluster, but this took time. While CCR's proposal submission deadlines used to be in November and December, the FY04 deadlines for CCF's clusters are in March. In FY05, we plan to go back to fall deadlines after revising the solicitations in early summer.

Computer and Network Systems (CNS)

CNS supports research and education activities that strive to create innovative computing and networking technologies and systems, to make better use of existing technologies, and to create better abstractions and tools for designing, building, and measuring future systems. The division also supports the computing infrastructure that is required for experimental computer science. CNS has three clusters (and also hosts the CISE Education and Workforce programs and program officers):

  1. The Computer Systems cluster contains programs and program officers that came from ACIR and CCR: next generation software, distributed systems and operating systems, and embedded and hybrid systems. (The trusted computing program has been subsumed by the Cyber Trust theme.) These programs all had fall deadlines, so this year they are being run as separate programs as in the past. We will create a single program solicitation this spring; the target date for proposals will be the first week in November.
  2. The Network Systems cluster was formed from several programs that were in Advanced Networking Infrastructure and Research (ANIR). These programs all had mid- to late-spring deadlines, so we developed a single program solicitation-Research in Networking Technology and Systems (NeTS)-that has an April 14 deadline. We will update that solicitation later this spring and release the new one in late summer. The target deadline for FY05 will be the first week in December.
  3. The Computing Research Infrastructure cluster contains three programs that were in EIA: minority institutional infrastructure, research infrastructure, and research resources. This year, all three are being run as in the past. We are developing a single program solicitation that will subsume and expand all three programs. The anticipated deadline date is mid-August, so we will be releasing the solicitation by mid-May. The reason for the new date is to be out of phase with the mid-January deadline of the NSF-wide Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program.

Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS)

The Division of Information & Intelligent Systems contains the programs that were in the prior IIS division, and it added activities from EIA. IIS is organized into three clusters:

  1. The Science and Engineering Informatics cluster supports research and education focused on advances in information technology that address problems in specific sciences and engineering domains (e.g., biology, geology, chemistry). In FY04 this cluster has a solicitation for Science and Engineering Information Integration and Informatics that supports research in areas such as bioinformatics, geoinformatics, and others, and a Joint NSF/NIH Initiative to Support Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience.
  2. The Data Inference and Understanding cluster supports basic computer science research and education with the goal of creating general-purpose systems for representing, storing, and accessing data, information, and knowledge. It also supports research and education in automated methods of drawing conclusions from data and knowledge. Topical areas in this cluster include: artificial intelligence and cognitive science; information and data management; digital libraries; computer vision; and human language and communication.
  3. The Systems in Context cluster supports research and education on the interaction between information, computation and communication systems and users, organizations, government agencies, the scientific community, and the external environment. Topical areas include: human-computer interaction; digital society and technologies; data and applications security; digital government; and robotics.

In FY2004, each program had a separate solicitation with a single deadline in the late fall through the winter. All programs in IIS will make the vast majority of funding decisions in time to allow PIs to make commitments to initiate research projects by the summer. In FY05, we anticipate a solicitation per cluster with deadlines in late summer to mid fall. The digital library research within IIS will focus on core research issues that will enable the next generation of digital libraries. Artificial Intelligence funding will encourage projects that integrate several modes of intelligence (e.g., reasoning, learning, planning, and representation).

Shared Cyberinfrastructure (SCI)

The Division of Shared Cyberinfrastructure supports design, development, and deployment of a broad spectrum of information technology systems that facilitate and accelerate scientific discovery and engineering research. The SCI portfolio builds on projects funded initially by programs in the ACIR and ANIR divisions, but is also expected to expand and grow in scope and size. While the division is not organized into clusters, key areas of activity supported include:

  • High-End Computational Infrastructure: SCI supports acquisition, operation, and upgrading of national infrastructure in support of high-end computation for the academic research and education community.
  • Advanced Networking Technologies and Infrastructure: SCI supports networks of various reach and granularity, from international and domestic high-speed networks to regional or local wireless networks. Some of the key areas of interest include end-to-end networking protocols; performance monitoring tools and measurement infrastructure; wireless networks; strategic international links; and testbeds to support trial deployments.
  • Advanced Services and Software: There is a growing need for development of robust software that increases the application capabilities, offers abstractions that hide the underlying complexities, and enhances the usability of the overall system. Included in this category are middleware software, data services, and visualization tools, to name a few.

In FY04, solicitations are being issued to expand the middleware and other software portfolio; to support international networking links between US research and education networks with international counterparts; and to seek new projects that emphasize education, outreach, and training. Due to the complexity of many of the programs, we are currently making a careful assessment of the application community needs as well as the state-of-the-art in the near- to mid-term technology base, and the FY05 plans are currently still under development.

The authors are the Directors of the four NSF-CISE divisions: Kamal Abdali (Computing & Communication Foundations), Gregory Andrews (Computer & Network Systems), Mari Maeda (Shared Cyberinfrastructure), and Michael Pazzani (Intelligent Information Systems).


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