The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) has requested the National Research Council (NRC) Board on Army Science and Technology (BAST) conduct a study to define the field of Network Science. The NRC will:
A working definition of network science is the study of network representations of physical, biological, and social phenomena leading to predictive models of these phenomena. Initiation of a field of network science would be appropriate to provide a body of rigorous results that would improve the predictability of the engineering design of complex networks and also speed up basic research in a variety of applications areas (Chapter 4).
General consensus exists among practitioners of network research in diverse application areas on topics that constitute network science (Chapter 5). There are seven major research challenges (Chapter 6).
Current military concepts of “net-centricity” are based on applications of computer and information technology that are far removed from likely results of basic research in network science. Table 8-1 lists current areas of network research of interest to the Army, including priority, time frames, and commercial interest (Chapter 3).
Current funding policies and priorities are unlikely to provide adequate fundamental knowledge about large complex networks that will advance network-centric operations. Besides the information domain, there are social, cognitive, and physical technology domains in the current conceptual framework for network-centric operations; there is no “biological” domain (Chapters 2–4).
A basis for network science is perceived in different ways by the communities concerned with engineered, biological, and social networks at all levels of complexity. Basic research efforts are totally incoherent (Chapters 5 and 6).
Options for obtaining value from investments in network science include scenarios ranging from building a base of basic research, to leveraging business practices for market-driven R&D in specific areas of network applications, to creating a robust capability for network-centric operations (Chapter 7).
Recommendations 1, 1a through 1d, 2, and 3 provide the Army with an actionable menu of alternatives that span the opportunities accessible to it. By selecting and implementing appropriate items from this menu, the Army can develop a robust network science to enable the desired progress (Chapter 8).
NOTE: The statement of task is in lightface; the summary of responses is in boldface.
Fundamental knowledge is created and stockpiled in disciplinary environments, mostly at universities, and then used as required by (vertically integrated) industries to provide the products and services required by customers, including the military. This fundamental knowledge is different in kind from empirical knowledge gleaned during the development of technology and products. You get what you measure. Suppliers of fundamental knowledge measure publications, presentations, students supervised, awards received, and other metrics associated with individual investigators. The knowledge accumulates along traditional disciplinary lines because this is where the rewards are found. Large team activities are