Research and Development
|Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation
In 1995, the National Science Foundation (NSF) created a special account to fund large (several tens of millions of dollars) research facilities. Over the years, these facilities have come to represent an increasingly prominent part of the nation’s R&D portfolio. Recently concern has intensified about the way NSF is selecting projects for this account. In 2003, six U.S. Senators including the chair and ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations expressed these concerns in a letter to the NRC asking it to “review the current prioritization process and report to us on how it can be improved.” This report presents a series of recommendations on how NSF can improve its priority setting process for large research facilities. While noting that NSF has improved this process, the report states that further strengthening is needed if NSF is to meet future demands for such projects.
|2003 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research's Marine Corps Science and Technology Program
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) funds research across a broad range of scientific and engineering disciplines in support of the Navy and Marine Corps. To ensure that its investments are serving those ends and are of high quality, ONR requires each of its departments to undergo annual review. Since 1999, the Naval Expeditionary Warfare Department of ONR has requested that the NRC conduct these reviews. This report presents the results of the second review of the Marine Corps Science and Technology program. The first review was conducted in 2000. The 2003 assessment examines the overall Marine Corps S&T program, the littoral combat future naval capability, the core thrusts of the program, and basic research activities.
|Steps to Facilitate Principal-Investigator-Led Earth Science Missions
Principal-investigator (PI) Earth science missions are small, focused science projects involving relatively small spacecraft. The selected PI is responsible for the scientific and programmatic success of the entire project. A particular objective of PI-led missions has been to help develop university-based research capacity. Such missions, however, pose significant challenges that are beyond the capabilities of most universities to manage. To help NASA’s Office of Earth Science determine how best to address these, the NRC carried out an assessment of key issues relevant to the success of university-based PI-led Earth observation missions. This report presents the result of that study. In particular, the report provides an analysis of opportunities to enhance such missions and recommendations about whether and, if so, how they should be used to build university-based research capabilities.
|Exploration of the Outer Heliosphere and the Local Interstellar MediumA Workshop Report
This report is the summary of a workshop held in May 2003 by the Space Studies Board's Committee on Solar and Space Physics to synthesize understanding of the physics of the outer heliosphere and the critical role played by the local interstellar medium (LISM) and to identify directions for the further exploration of this challenging environment.
|Summary of a Workshop on Software Certification and Dependability
Certification of critical software systems (e.g., for safety and security) is important to help ensure their dependability. Today, certification relies as much on evaluation of the software development process as it does on the system’s properties. While the latter are preferable, the complexity of these systems usually makes them extremely difficult to evaluate. To explore these and related issues, the National Coordination Office for Information technology Research and Development asked the NRC to undertake a study to assess the current state of certification in dependable systems. The study is in two phases: the first to frame the problem and the second to assess it. This report presents a summary of a workshop held as part of the first phase. The report presents a summary of workshop participants’ presentations and subsequent discussion. It covers, among other things, the strengths and limitations of process; new challenges and opportunities; experience to date; organization context; and cost-effectiveness of software engineering techniques. A consensus report will be issued upon completion of the second phase.
|Statistical Analysis of Massive Data StreamsProceedings of a Workshop
Massive data streams, large quantities of data that arrive continuously, are becoming increasingly commonplace in many areas of science and technology. Consequently development of analytical methods for such streams is of growing importance. To address this issue, the National Security Agency asked the NRC to hold a workshop to explore methods for analysis of streams of data so as to stimulate progress in the field. This report presents the results of that workshop. It provides presentations that focused on five different research areas where massive data streams are present: atmospheric and meteorological data; high-energy physics; integrated data systems; network traffic; and mining commercial data streams. The goals of the report are to improve communication among researchers in the field and to increase relevant statistical science activity.
|Methodology for Estimating Prospective Benefits of Energy R&D Programs
Since its inception in 1977, the Department of Energy has invested substantial sums in energy efficiency and fossil energy R&D. To monitor its effectiveness, the agency and Congress have, over the years, pursued evaluation of these R&D programs that focuses on its cost and benefits. Such evaluation, however, is difficult and must incorporate the full range of public benefits as well as what might happen if that R&D had not been funded by the federal government. To help address these challenges, and at the direction of Congress, DOE asked the NRC to develop a methodology for evaluating the prospective benefits of its fossil energy and energy efficiency R&D programs. Such methodology can be used to evaluate program management and funding decisions on an ongoing basis. This letter report provides an overview of the studies approach and how it differs from retrospective studies of this R&D previously carried out by the NRC. A final report is expected to be completed in February 2005.
|Getting Up to SpeedThe Future of Supercomputing
Supercomputers play a significant and growing role in a variety of areas important to the nation. They are used to address challenging science and technology problems. In recent years, however, progress in supercomputing in the United States has slowed. The development of the Earth Simulator supercomputer by Japan that the United States could lose its competitive advantage and, more importantly, the national competence needed to achieve national goals. In the wake of this development, the Department of Energy asked the NRC to assess the state of U.S. supercomputing capabilities and relevant R&D. Subsequently, the Senate directed DOE in S. Rpt. 107-220 to ask the NRC to evaluate the Advanced Simulation and Computing program of the National Nuclear Security Administration at DOE in light of the development of the Earth Simulator. This report provides an assessment of the current status of supercomputing in the United States including a review of current demand and technology, infrastructure and institutions, and international activities. The report also presents a number of recommendations to enable the United States to meet current and future needs for capability supercomputers.
|Assessment of Department of Defense Basic Research
The Department of Defense (DOD) supports basic research to advance fundamental knowledge in fields important to national defense. Over the past six years, however, several groups have raised concern about whether the nature of DOD-funded basic research is changing. The concerns include these: Funds are being spent for research that does not fall under DOD's definition of basic research; reporting requirements have become cumbersome and onerous; and basic research is handled differently by the three services. To explore these concerns, the Congress directed DOD to request a study from the National Research Council (NRC) about the nature of basic research now being funded by the Department. Specifically the NRC was to determine if the programs in the DOD basic research portfolio are consistent with the DOD definition of basic research and with the characteristics associated with fundamental research.