[Published originally in the May 2009 edition of Computing Research News, Vol. 21/No. 3]
Computing Research that Changed the World
On March 25, federal policy-makers and computing researchers came together for the CCC-organized symposium “Computing Research that Changed the World: Reflections and Perspectives” (/ccc/locsymposium) to examine the game-changing computing research advances of the past two decades and to extract lessons for structuring future programs to sustain that remarkable track record.
Through the kind auspices of Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Chair of the House Science Committee, the symposium was held in the Members Room of the Library of Congress, a spectacular venue. Other honorary co-sponsors included Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX), Congressman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Congressman Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ), and Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). The invitation list consisted of policy-makers, agency directors, next-generation computing researchers, and a (very) few old-hand researchers.
Choosing the specific advances to feature was a difficult task. Many dozens of members of the computing research community made suggestions by posting comments in response to a solicitation on the CCC Blog (http://www.cccblog.org/). Ultimately, the symposium explored:
Each talk lasted 20 minutes, and each session concluded with a panel discussion of future research challenges. Following the four technical sessions, the symposium turned to a session on Moving Forward, a panel with all presenters addressing questions from the audience.
The day began with an introductory presentation by Ed Lazowska, and ended with a Closing Session where Ed summarized both the content and the messages of the day, and four demonstrations highlighted active research:
In addition, Congressman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Chair of the House Science Committee Sub-Committee on Research and Science Education, discussed his views of the importance of computing research.
The speakers did an outstanding job in making their talks accessible to the diverse audience. Consequently, these are great talks to share with student and other audiences to show them what computing is really about. The proceedings were videotaped, and full video of each presentation is available on the symposium website, as well as pdfs of each speakerís transparencies (or transparency videos for the two presentations with substantial animations). Permission is given to use all materials for non-commercial purposes with appropriate credit to the presenter and to CRA/CCC.
And the lessons the participants extracted?
And the bottom line: We have an extraordinary track record—America has an IT R&D ecosystem that again and again leads to massive transformations. And the next ten years can be our golden age: on March 25 we heard about some amazing recent accomplishments, and we heard from some extraordinary young people (as well as some extraordinary not-so-young people) who are driving the field forward. The opportunities for impact are greater than they have ever been. Check out the symposium website and then go out and change the world!
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