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book coverThe Future of Computing Performance: Game Over or Next Level?   (CSTB)
Released 2011-03-21

The end of dramatic exponential growth in single-processor performance marks the end of the dominance of the single microprocessor in computing. The era of sequential computing must give way to a new era in which parallelism is at the forefront. Although important scientific and engineering challenges lie ahead, this is an opportune time for innovation in programming systems and computing architectures. We have already begun to see diversity in computer designs to optimize for such considerations as power and throughput. The next generation of discoveries is likely to require advances at both the hardware and software levels of computing systems. There is no guarantee that we can make parallel computing as common and easy to use as yesterday's sequential single-processor computer systems, but unless we aggressively pursue efforts suggested by the recommendations in this book, it will be "game over" for growth in computing performance. If parallel programming and related software efforts fail to become widespread, the development of exciting new applications that drive the computer industry will stall; if such innovation stalls, many other parts of the economy will follow suit. The Future of Computing Performance describes the factors that have led to the future limitations on growth for single processors that are based on complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. It explores challenges inherent in parallel computing and architecture, including ever-increasing power consumption and the escalated requirements for heat dissipation. The book delineates a research, practice, and education agenda to help overcome these challenges. The Future of Computing Performance will guide researchers, manufacturers, and information technology professionals in the right direction for sustainable growth in computer performance, so that we may all enjoy the next level of benefits to society.

book coverPreliminary Observations on Information Technology Needs and Priorities for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: An Interim Report   (CSTB)
Released 2010-12-09

Increasingly, the core mission of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, is expanding from one of focusing on prompt claims payment to one of becoming more broadly involved in improving health care quality and efficiency. The requirements for the information technology (IT) systems of CMS are changing as its mission changes, and the efforts to evolve its systems from those designed to support the agency's historical mission come in the midst of a push to modernize the nation's health care IT more broadly. These new challenges arise even as CMS must meet challenging day-to-day operational requirements and make frequent adjustments to its business processes, code, databases, and systems in response to changing statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements. In light of these and other emerging challenges, CMS asked the National Research Council to conduct a study that would lay out a forward-looking vision for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, taking account of CMS's mission, business processes, and information technology requirements. The study is being conducted in two phases. The first, resulting in the present volume, draws on a series of teleconferences, briefings, and an information-gathering workshop held in Washington, D.C., on September 27-28, 2010. The second phase, drawing on that workshop and on additional briefings, site visits, and committee deliberations, will result in a final report with recommendations, to be issued at the end of the project in 2011.

book coverCritical Code: Software Producibility for Defense   (CSTB)
Released 2010-10-27

Critical Code contemplates Department of Defense (DoD) needs and priorities for software research and suggests a research agenda and related actions. Building on two prior books--Summary of a Workshop on Software Intensive Systems and Uncertainty at Scale and Preliminary Observations on DoD Software Research Needs and Priorities--the present volume assesses the nature of the national investment in software research and, in particular, considers ways to revitalize the knowledge base needed to design, produce, and employ software-intensive systems for tomorrow's defense needs. Critical Code discusses four sets of questions: To what extent is software capability significant for the DoD? Is it becoming more or less significant and strategic in systems development? Will the advances in software producibility needed by the DoD emerge unaided from industry at a pace sufficient to meet evolving defense requirements? What are the opportunities for the DoD to make more effective use of emerging technology to improve software capability and software producibility? In which technology areas should the DoD invest in research to advance defense software capability and producibility?

book coverProceedings of a Workshop on Deterring Cyberattacks:Informing Strategies and Developing Options for U.S. Policy   (CSTB)
Released 2010-09-30

In a world of increasing dependence on information technology, the prevention of cyberattacks on a nation's important computer and communications systems and networks is a problem that looms large. Given the demonstrated limitations of passive cybersecurity defense measures, it is natural to consider the possibility that deterrence might play a useful role in preventing cyberattacks against the United States and its vital interests. At the request of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Research Council undertook a two-phase project aimed to foster a broad, multidisciplinary examination of strategies for deterring cyberattacks on the United States and of the possible utility of these strategies for the U.S. government. The first phase produced a letter report providing basic information needed to understand the nature of the problem and to articulate important questions that can drive research regarding ways of more effectively preventing, discouraging, and inhibiting hostile activity against important U.S. information systems and networks. The second phase of the project entailed selecting appropriate experts to write papers on questions raised in the letter report. A number of experts, identified by the committee, were commissioned to write these papers under contract with the National Academy of Sciences. Commissioned papers were discussed at a public workshop held June 10-11, 2010, in Washington, D.C., and authors revised their papers after the workshop. Although the authors were selected and the papers reviewed and discussed by the committee, the individually authored papers do not reflect consensus views of the committee, and the reader should view these papers as offering points of departure that can stimulate further work on the topics discussed. The papers presented in this volume are published essentially as received from the authors, with some proofreading corrections made as limited time allowed.

book coverBiometric Recognition:Challenges and Opportunities   (CSTB)
Released 2010-11-12

Biometric recognition--the automated recognition of individuals based on their behavioral and biological characteristic--is promoted as a way to help identify terrorists, provide better control of access to physical facilities and financial accounts, and increase the efficiency of access to services and their utilization. Biometric recognition has been applied to identification of criminals, patient tracking in medical informatics, and the personalization of social services, among other things. In spite of substantial effort, however, there remain unresolved questions about the effectiveness and management of systems for biometric recognition, as well as the appropriateness and societal impact of their use. Moreover, the general public has been exposed to biometrics largely as high-technology gadgets in spy thrillers or as fear-instilling instruments of state or corporate surveillance in speculative fiction. Now, as biometric technologies appear poised for broader use, increased concerns about national security and the tracking of individuals as they cross borders have caused passports, visas, and border-crossing records to be linked to biometric data. A focus on fighting insurgencies and terrorism has led to the military deployment of biometric tools to enable recognition of individuals as friend or foe. Commercially, finger-imaging sensors, whose cost and physical size have been reduced, now appear on many laptop personal computers, handheld devices, mobile phones, and other consumer devices. Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities addresses the issues surrounding broader implementation of this technology, making two main points: first, biometric recognition systems are incredibly complex, and need to be addressed as such. Second, biometric recognition is an inherently probabilistic endeavor. Consequently, even when the technology and the system in which it is embedded are behaving as designed, there is inevitable uncertainty and risk of error. This book elaborates on these themes in detail to provide policy makers, developers, and researchers a comprehensive assessment of biometric recognition that examines current capabilities, future possibilities, and the role of government in technology and system development.

book coverToward Better Usability, Security, and Privacy of Information Technology:Report of a Workshop   (CSTB)
Released 2010-10-07

Despite many advances, security and privacy often remain too complex for individuals or enterprises to manage effectively or to use conveniently. Security is hard for users, administrators, and developers to understand, making it all too easy to use, configure, or operate systems in ways that are inadvertently insecure. Moreover, security and privacy technologies originally were developed in a context in which system administrators had primary responsibility for security and privacy protections and in which the users tended to be sophisticated. Today, the user base is much wider--including the vast majority of employees in many organizations and a large fraction of households--but the basic models for security and privacy are essentially unchanged. Security features can be clumsy and awkward to use and can present significant obstacles to getting work done. As a result, cybersecurity measures are all too often disabled or bypassed by the users they are intended to protect. Similarly, when security gets in the way of functionality, designers and administrators deemphasize it. The result is that end users often engage in actions, knowingly or unknowingly, that compromise the security of computer systems or contribute to the unwanted release of personal or other confidential information. Toward Better Usability, Security, and Privacy of Information Technology discusses computer system security and privacy, their relationship to usability, and research at their intersection.

book coverLetter Report for the Committee on Deterring Cyberattacks:Informing Strategies and Developing Options for U.S. Policy   (CSTB)
Released 2010-03-30

This report is the first phase of a larger project to conduct a broad, multidisciplinary examination of deterrence strategies and their possible utility to the U.S. government in its policies toward preventing cyberattacks. This first phase identifies the key issues and questions that merit examination. The next phase will engage experts to prepare papers that address key issues and questions, including those posed here. This letter report provides basic information needed to understand the nature of the problem and to articulate important questions that can drive research regarding ways of more effectively preventing, discouraging, and inhibiting hostile activity against important U.S. information systems and networks.

book coverReport of a Workshop on The Scope and Nature of Computational Thinking   (CSTB)
Released 2010-04-20

Report of a Workshop on the Scope and Nature of Computational Thinking presents a number of perspectives on the definition and applicability of computational thinking. For example, one idea expressed during the workshop is that computational thinking is a fundamental analytical skill that everyone can use to help solve problems, design systems, and understand human behavior, making it useful in a number of fields. Supporters of this viewpoint believe that computational thinking is comparable to the linguistic, mathematical and logical reasoning taught to all children. Various efforts have been made to introduce K-12 students to the most basic and essential computational concepts and college curricula have tried to provide a basis for life-long learning of increasingly new and advanced computational concepts and technologies. At both ends of this spectrum, however, most efforts have not focused on fundamental concepts. The book discusses what some of those fundamental concepts might be. Report of a Workshop on the Scope and Nature of Computational Thinking explores the idea that as the use of computational devices is becoming increasingly widespread, computational thinking skills should be promulgated more broadly. The book is an excellent resource for professionals in a wide range of fields including educators and scientists.