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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs Executive Summary The U.S. Air Force, like the other services, is transforming itself into a new type of force with capabilities appropriate for an emerging array of new threats. The Air Force roadmap for transformation, part of the U.S. Air Force Transformation Flight Plan,1 describes the desired new capabilities, and it is readily seen that advances in information science and technology (IS&T) underpin most of them. For example, the three main new capabilities are information superiority, precision targeting (or strike), and improved battlespace awareness. The first requires secure and survivable command and control systems; methods for sharing, tailoring, and distributing vast amounts of information; decision aids; and offensive and defensive cyber warfare. Precision strike implies the ability to place munitions with minimal error anyplace required to achieve a military objective, and also the ability to perform rapid damage assessment. And improved battlespace awareness requires the ability to fuse and convey information so that decision makers can fully understand the plan of action and its execution in real time and be able to rapidly assess and anticipate necessary changes to the plan. In order to refocus its program of basic research in IS&T to better support these Air Force goals, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) asked the National Research Council to establish a committee charged with the following task: 1 Available at http://www.dtic.mil/jointvision/af_trans_flightplan.pdf. Referred to in this report as the Air Force Flight Plan.
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs The study will create a vision and plan for the IS&T-related programs within the AFOSR’s Mathematics and Space Sciences Directorate. Based on the spectrum of Air Force IS&T needs and the context in which the Mathematics and Space Sciences Directorate operates, the committee will do the following: Identify which of the Air Force’s IS&T needs seem to call for AFOSR-sponsored R&D; Recommend a program of 6.1 research2 in IS&T that is not being done elsewhere (or is not readily applicable to Air Force situations) and that covers the most critical or broadly useful topics that fit within the purview of the Mathematics and Space Sciences Directorate; Develop rough estimates of the funding needed to make credible progress in this program of IS&T-related research, with a prioritization that defines what could be adequately covered with flat funding, a 10 percent decrease, a 10 percent increase, and a 25 percent increase. Recommend how the directorate might transition from its current program to the envisioned one under these various budget scenarios; and Recommend an appropriate balance of funding mechanisms for the directorate’s IS&T-related research, choosing among the various mechanisms currently in use in the directorate. This report is the outcome of that committee’s study. The committee learned about Air Force goals from a variety of sources, including printed reports, briefings at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Air Combat Command, and discussions with senior Air Force leaders in research and development (R&D). From these sources, the committee concluded that most of the capabilities desired by the Air Force cannot be attained without continued IS&T R&D. This is because IT pervades most, if not all, envisioned Air Force systems and is often the principal enabler of system capability, yet IT is still an immature engineering discipline requiring much work to assure predictable results when a system requires IT-related innovation. Furthermore, nearly all of those capabilities require some advances that are unlikely to be developed commercially or by the other services and therefore will require targeted R&D by the Air Force itself. Moreover, nearly all of that Air Force-specific R&D must include ambitious basic research, because significant gaps exist in the knowledge base upon which the desired capabilities will be built. 2 In the Department of Defense (DOD), funding lines are assigned numbers, and 6.1 is the line for basic research. Within the Air Force, the AFOSR is in charge of all 6.1 funding, most of which is used to support peer-reviewed academic research. Funds for applied research and development (R&D) are designated 6.2 or 6.3.
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs The committee, echoing what is already understood within the AFOSR R&D establishment, identified (1) access to disparate data and information, (2) their fusion and appropriate distribution, and (3) conversion of information into knowledge as the necessary building blocks for attaining the desired capabilities. These building blocks, like most of the Air Force’s desired capabilities, rely on team-focused, network-enabled systems—that is, interlocking systems made possible by networks that enable the teams to work together. The committee concluded that research to develop those building blocks is the most important Air Force need, one that will persist as long as the Air Force relies on network-enabled systems, and from its initial store of ideas about which kinds of research would be relevant to Air Force IS&T, the committee identified four that underpin team-focused, network-enabled systems of any kind: research in networks and communications, software, information management, and human-system interactions (HSI). The committee’s vision for AFOSR’s IS&T program is captured in Figure ES-1. Distributed research and experimentation environments are discussed in Chapter 9 and some grand challenges are proposed in Chapter 7. Then, the committee summarizes the research it recommends in each of these areas. FIGURE ES-1 A vision for Air Force IS&T research: Team-focused, network-enabled systems are created by the four research areas shown. The concerted efforts in the four areas, which also affect one another, are to be focused by grand challenges identified by the AFOSR and by experiments conducted in distributed research and experimentation environments.
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs NETWORKS AND COMMUNICATIONS Air Force applications must contend with communication modalities that are not encountered in commercial and civilian settings. For example, satellite channels have unusually long-delay data rates and randomly fading dispersive channel characteristics. Classical communication and information theories do not incorporate an element of adversarial attacks. Radio channels, especially those associated with mobile platforms, have rapidly changing link capacities and connectivity, with disconnections and dropouts that can last minutes or more. In contrast with this dynamism, traditional layer 3 (Network Layer) and layer 4 (Transport Layer) protocols assume fairly stable underlying substrates that change, if at all, over the course of minutes—that is, much more slowly than most transmissions. These traditional protocols often yield low throughputs and poor quality service when applied to defense systems; in some cases, they do not work at all despite valiant efforts to provide patches. Thus, the main challenge of Air Force communications is to provide assured connectivity between networks (albeit at varying rates) under difficult channel conditions, including during adversarial attacks. Another Air Force communications challenge is how to recognize when multiple sensors have collected related observations so that redundancy can be removed or complementary data fused. This is essential in order to stay within network bandwidth capacities, especially in difficult communication environments. More generally, the theory of networks has not matured to a point where one can predict how well protocols developed heuristically in one application setting will perform on a communication network built on radically different communication modalities. To deal with the new and complicated modalities of importance to the Air Force, fundamental tools must be developed to help understand how networks might perform in new environments and to optimize architectures. It is simply too costly to develop these architectures and protocols ad hoc and then experiment with the communication links in the field. Bandwidth will always be in high demand in the battlespace, so there is a need for a network management system that is able to translate high-level guiding principles into network actions such as routing and media access control priorities in a timely fashion without a human in the loop. Currently, asset management is done manually, and it is far from responsive or optimal. Because it will not always be possible to ensure that no nodes are compromised, the network should be designed to sense dead or malfunctioning network elements and route around them. In addition, the network should have an architecture that confines such damage to a local area and does not allow it to propagate across the network. When the network senses outside attacks, it should be able to locate the real entry points and then defend against and remove these attacks.
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs In response to these challenges, the committee recommends that AFOSR pursue basic research in the following topics of importance for Air Force networks: Robust protocols, addressed with new mathematical tools for network dynamics analysis. Error-free, end-to-end delivery, requiring better methods for performance prediction. Throughput, delay deadlines, and congestion control, all based on network coding. Network performance optimization, building on dynamic (convex and nonconvex) programming, game theory, and control theory. Policy-based network management, requiring means of monitoring, resource allocation, and making performance guarantees for subsets of users. Robust architectures, perhaps based on Byzantine robust networking. Network architecture and protocols for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and other air vehicles. For sensor networks in particular, the committee recommends the following basic research topics: Real-time embedded processing. Embedded control systems. Minimization of power consumption, addressed through energy-efficient routing, Transport Layer protocols, and energy-efficient process management. Programming and support tools for large-scale networks. Energy-efficient coding schemes for information distribution. Techniques for real-time dynamic resource allocation. Energy-aware compilers and schedulers. Source compression and correlation methods for multiple sensors. The Air Force communication systems that operate on these networks require basic research in the following areas: Unifying methodologies for modulation, coding, beam-forming, and scheduling optimization. Information theory extensions for dynamic self-adaptive communications. Wireless architectures for exploiting node-to-node cooperation. Ultrawideband (UWB) communication: air-ground, air-air, airspace.
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs Dynamic exploitation of channel characteristics for increased capacity, reliability, and spectrum efficiency. Design of systems with performance guarantees for difficult channels, including channels under attack. Integrated design/optimization of networks plus communications systems, being conscious of the vulnerability to cross-layer adversarial attacks. SOFTWARE Network-enabled systems are by definition dependent on complex software because of the great number of possible states of the networks. The systems that require such software transcend a range of Air Force applications, from intensive human-machine systems (e.g., command and control, air operation centers) to embedded applications (e.g., avionics systems). Increasingly these applications are connected by networks into a system of systems and, in fact, the distinction between enterprise and embedded systems blurs as the focus is increasingly on the interconnectedness of all such systems. Rather than focusing on large-scale code development—a challenge that is being researched by others—the committee recommends that AFOSR focus on a set of important software engineering issues that are key to successful Air Force network-enabled systems but that have received limited attention. This recommended set of issues centers on how to understand what to build and how to ensure that its behavior is relatively predictable and acceptable, both during design and in operational use. Three important questions emerge: How do we discover and understand what is needed? How can critical nonfunctional attributes (those that are desired or necessary but ancillary to the software’s primary functionality) be implemented in a predictable fashion? Can the resulting software, once fielded, evolve to satisfy new needs discovered as it is used? To address the first of these, the committee recommends a program of research aimed at the coevolution of Air Force concepts of operations and system architectures. This program extends the philosophy of software development models such as iterative development that support rapid prototyping of a software system so that end users can experiment with the system to see if it satisfies their needs. The prototype then becomes an explicit representation of the requirements. Current research in execut-
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs able architectures and in engineering tools for the design and analysis of functional and nonfunctional attributes provides a basis for this program. The committee recommends research into the following: Methods to support rapid composability. Semantic extensions of current modeling languages to enhance composability and representation and reasoning of behavior. Development of tools that enable the construction of executable versions of models in system modeling languages. Methods that support experimentation, operational assessment, and the use of initial architecture representations in exercises. An example might be scripting languages that allow end users to explore early versions of software and help encode their preferences into the final architecture. Approaches that allow user tailoring, definition, and exploration of new processes and automated learning based on past problem solving. Experimentation and demonstration of these research approaches in domains of relevance to the Air Force. To address the second question, the committee recommends that AFOSR support a new line of research, extending model-based software research funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to build up an understanding of software behavior envelopes. Dynamic analysis of the nonfunctional attributes (e.g., scalability, interoperability, survivability, security, energy awareness) of software could define the performance envelope of a network-enabled system. It would be valuable to know the extent to which software could be modified, by developers or end users, and stay within the desired envelope. This topic would be a new area of research for the software community, but there is related work on which to build, as explained in Chapter 4 of this report. Once a software architecture has been defined and the performance envelope explored, a logical third capability would be one that supports the continued evolution of complex software within its fielded context. While most other software engineering research focuses on developing new software-intensive systems, in fact the larger challenge is to learn how to maintain and upgrade the huge amount of Air Force software that has already been fielded. Thus, important research areas include methods to infer the architecture of legacy software systems, to identify software components within that architecture, to parallelize legacy system software and applications, and to migrate that architecture and components to new and improved architectures, possibly within a new computing environ-
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs ment. Since network-enabled systems will involve many legacy systems as well as new systems, it is imperative that software be designed so that it can be evolved in an affordable manner throughout its life cycle. The committee recommends that AFOSR support research to improve the evolvability of software-intensive systems. The following specific lines of research, which could build on readily available commercial frameworks, are recommended: Our ability to conduct dynamic, model-based analyses to analyze nonfunctional attributes needs to be improved. In order to improve component integration, research is needed to accelerate the development of abstract design-component systems and code-component-based systems, addressing automated discovery, composition, generation, interoperability, and reuse across hundreds of systems. Research in security is needed in support of the goal of measurable, available, secure, trustworthy, and sustainable network-enabled systems. To attain assured reliability with hard time-deadlines, methods are needed for modeling and analyzing integrated reliability, availability, and schedulability of components and systems in realistic conditions derived from user-specified scenarios. All participating components of the overall system need to be energy-efficient: (1) network energy on network interface and communication protocols of ad hoc networks, (2) processor energy and process management for scheduling various applications, (3) memory/ storage energy and memory/storage management, and (4) display energy. Research is needed into novel integration of methods for verification and validation, such as integration of informal methods (e.g., software testing and monitoring) with formal verification (i.e., model checking and theorem proving) and abstract interpretation and static program analysis techniques. The ability to validate scalability, adoptability, usability, and measurement is also important, and some fundamental breakthroughs have occurred in the past 5 years that have led to a rapid rise in industry adoption and interest. INFORMATION MANAGEMENT One ramification of the ubiquitous deployment of IT in the Air Force is that both human and automated decision makers are now often faced
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs with voluminous multimedia data from which they must create knowledge. Even the first step in knowledge creation—the integration of raw data that are in different formats and managed by different data management technologies—is challenging, but future Air Force capabilities will require much more. The Air Force faces major open questions on how to manage and share information in a distributed system. The “publish-subscribe” paradigm is one that is being explored at the AFRL. That concept includes (1) a common repository where information is “published” and (2) “subscription” information for various users that defines which posted information their systems will download from the common area. The publish-subscribe concept has been shown to scale to hundreds of thousands of participants within stable network environments. However, an Air Force publish-subscribe system must work in an unstable wide-area network environment such as a battlespace network; it must in many cases weed out information that is outdated or redundant; its subscription rules must be more sophisticated than those available today, including having enough “intelligence” to take context into account; and the system must be trustworthy even if an adversary has gained access to publish or subscribe. These challenges are examples and not comprehensive. Moreover, they are not unique to publish-subscribe. Similar challenges accompany alternative infrastructures for information management. It is clear, therefore, that much research in fields such as distributed computing, database systems, security, and data mining must be accomplished before the Air Force can field a dependable information management system. More generally, the Air Force needs to understand information at a more abstract level. It needs a model and architecture for situation understanding and a means of incorporating situation modeling, model-based processing, situation projection, and top-down management of situation understanding in order to explore topics in information fusion. It also needs a scientific basis and technologies for multisensor fusion for air and ground targets. Some of these topics are extensions of ongoing work in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) methods. An even bolder question would be, How can a computer understand data and information in context? In principle, background understanding of a mission or related intelligence could help a computer interpret information from the battlespace—for example, to help identify objects in video or image data. If such context-dependent processing were possible, perhaps information-understanding algorithms could be embedded in sensors and networks to enable rapid data assessment and rapid situation assessment. The committee recommends the following basic research in support of Air Force information management:
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs Query-processing techniques for large-scale sensor networks. Where to place query functionality vs. limited power, bandwidth, etc. Coping with mobile sensors, unreliable sensors, high data rates. Techniques for processing and managing semistructured content. For data modeling, for querying and routing, for execution. Fusion of uncertain, inconsistent data and querying of incomplete information. Mechanisms for determining the certainty of answers as a function of the certainty of raw data. Multilevel representation of multimodal signals (video, images, hyperspectral, etc.). For efficient transmission, storage, manipulation, multimodal data mining, and machine learning. HUMAN-SYSTEM INTERACTIONS The committee focuses on HSI to encompass not only human-computer interactions but also the coordinated and purposeful interactions of several or many humans with complex systems and the interactions of teams of humans mediated through systems. The committee recommends an AFOSR focus on HSI because it is essential to the successful operation of complex systems and to the accomplishment of network-enabled operations. An ultimate goal of HSI research would be to enable machines (or algorithms) to perform more of the complex data manipulation, correlation, computation, and data reduction—and even some decision-making—leaving humans to perform the most critical judgments that cannot be accomplished by algorithms or that rely on extrinsic knowledge. Furthermore, HSI should help humans to interact with one another in cooperative tasks where multiple humans are part of the system. In the Air Force, there are many situations where one or more humans interact with one or more IS&T systems. This includes systems that are distributed not only among different platforms but also, perhaps, across geographical and organizational boundaries, most often with strict security and service reliability constraints such as near-real-time or time-critical services. Complexity increases if the humans and the systems interact with one another in ways that are not connected with the task being analyzed. What sorts of information, architecture, and format should be used to achieve desired effects, and how can designers and users estimate the uncertainties and internalize the context and caveats associated with each option? Assuming the right information is available at the right time and in the right form (e.g., text, images), what techniques will enable the user to make the best use of it? How can what-if simulations be considered and
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs evaluated? Such complex capabilities might require integrated and synchronized multimodal interfaces (visual, aural, and/or haptic) to capture the high dimensionality of a system of sensors and actuators in the battlefield. Research into HSI should shed light on the usability of the (same) information in a battlefield command-and-control situation relative to the perspective (rank) of the user and the granularity (detail of the information). In other words, one must understand and characterize the most likely and useful level of complexity for each potential user, from the warfighter to the commander, so that the complexity and amount of information can be optimized for battlefield decision-making—not a paucity of data, but not data overload either. The importance of HSI research is also driven home by the Air Force emphasis on influence operations, which are meant to alter adversaries’ attitudes and perspectives so as to achieve U.S. goals without resorting to the tools of traditional warfare. Influence operations require fundamental research into behaviors and how they can be affected. To this base of knowledge must be added knowledge on interpretation and presentation, personnel training, and modeling and simulation, building on what is known about cultural and behavioral factors to carry out influence operations. As an example, characterization and recognition of normal and abnormal behavior would, in general, help in surveillance at all levels. Characterizing which actions, postures, and so on signify worrisome behavior requires ongoing research in the social sciences, and the ability to automatically recognize such behavior in sensed data is an ongoing challenge for IS&T. The committee recommends that AFOSR pursue basic research in the following areas of importance to HSI: Tools for improved human interactions with automated reasoning and inference systems under constraints. Automated diagnosis and decision support, automated learning. Enable user navigation of systems involving complex and noisy data and decision systems. Learning-theory-based techniques for predictive modeling and anticipatory behavior involving cultural factors. Combination of heuristic and optimization techniques for complex searches, with adaptability to different levels of detail to avoid information overload of the warfighter. Trade-offs between power usage in sensors and displays and choices regarding the range of visual items, human attention, and control. Fundamental requirements and metrics in designing, implementing, and experimenting with complex, interactive, time-critical information systems.
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs Enhanced, interactive, mixed-modality models, experiments, and testbeds for more integrated real-time human/system/sensor synergy and database decision support relevant to Air Force goals. In particular, HSI research of importance to information usability and influence operations would include: Simulation of urban and human environments. Behavioral models of individuals, groups, and organizations. Fundamental attributes of information operations testbeds and experimental metrics for evaluating effectiveness. Decision support techniques for addressing partial-solution approximations based on evolving, nonstatic information. Note that some of the HSI research falls squarely in the domain of psychology or sociology. AFOSR already has programs that are joint between IS&T and psychology, and the committee recommends that this interface continue to be strengthened and broadened. PRIORITIES FOR AFOSR IS&T RESEARCH The committee recommends that AFOSR prioritize its IS&T research in networks, communications, information management, software, and HIS, as shown in Table ES-1. With the current funding available for IS&T (the column headed “Stable”) the committee recommends that networks, communications, and HSI research merit the highest priority, while information management and software research portfolios would be better able to weather any forced reductions in the level of effort. The committee is not saying that the latter two research areas are less important to the Air Force. Rather, it is the committee’s judgment that if cutbacks are required, reductions in those programs would do the least harm in limiting future options. If the overall IS&T funding dropped by 10 percent, the committee would give software the lowest priority only because other organizations, and commercial enterprises, are doing some related research. If overall funding increases by 10 percent, the priority for information management research should be raised a notch. Finally, if overall IS&T funding were to increase by 25 percent, the committee recommends a balanced portfolio drawn from the particular research recommendations earlier in this summary. See also the footnotes to Table ES-1 for additional interpretative notes. Because all of the major research areas listed in Table ES-1 contribute synergistically to the future fielding of team-focused, network-enabled systems, progress toward that vision is dependent on a balanced research effort across all five areas. As implied by Table ES-1, the overall funding
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs TABLE ES-1 Relative Priorities Under Four Funding Scenarios IS&T Topic 10% Reduction Stable 10% Increase 25% Increase Networks H H H H Communications H H H H Information management M M H H Software L M M H Human-system interactions H H H H Note: “H” means the general topic is a high priority, and its funding should be protected or increased. “M” means the general topic is of medium priority for AFOSR support, given the contributions by other players, not that it is of medium importance to the AFOSR. “L” means that funding in that area should be sacrificed so that a critical level of effort can be supported in other areas. “L” does not mean that the topic is not of importance to the Air Force, only that if resources are tight, it is a reasonable candidate for cuts because other organizations are contributing to the topic and/or the challenge is so great that a small AFOSR effort is unlikely to lead to significant progress. These priorities pertain to the five general research areas listed in the left-hand column as weighed only against one another, not against other programs funded by AFOSR’s Mathematics and Space Sciences Directorate. The priorities are meant to show the committee’s consensus on which of the areas to (de)emphasize if there are any changes in funding. The priorities take into account not only the importance of the research but also the relative need for Air Force-specific research. They reflect the committee’s general sense of what can be meaningfully accomplished within the funding scenarios posited, but the committee did not develop a detailed estimate of the resources required for each of the research topics in the left-hand column. level for basic research in IS&T will not support such a broad, balanced effort unless there is a significant increase. Therefore, the committee recommends a significant increase in IS&T funding within AFOSR centered on research to support team-focused, network-enabled systems of Air Force interest. The committee also recommends that AFOSR consider designating some topics as grand challenges as a means of focusing its IS&T research, motivating the academic research community, and connecting that research to Air Force goals. Topics designated as grand challenges would be ones for which there is a recognizable gap in the knowledge base that would be properly addressed by a cross-disciplinary community of basic researchers; the grand challenge will help give that community an identity and thus strengthen its coherence. These grand challenges should be defined in terms that are recognizable to the basic research community, but AFOSR should also be able to map the grand challenges to future Air Force technologies. The grand challenges are not part of, nor do they compete with, the AFRL’s focused long-term challenges (which are more ori-
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs ented toward technologies), but they should link to them. Building a program around grand challenges quite naturally facilitates new interdisciplinary research communities: “interdisciplinary,” because the breadth of the challenges calls for varied expertise, and “naturally,” because the associated researchers are interested in the whole range of efforts addressing the grand challenge. The committee recommends that AFOSR consider the following as possible grand challenges, but this list is by no means exhaustive: Control of multiple UAVs. Research to enable the control of multiple UAVs by one human in mixed manned-unmanned airspace, in contrast to today’s requirement for many humans for a single UAV in carefully deconflicted manned and unmanned airspace. Taskable airborne network. Research to enable cost-effective and rapidly deployable tactical intelligence networks in urban environments, where the nodes generally are sensors carried on UAVs or lighter-than-air vehicles and the networks are taskable by ground-and air-based commanders. Mixed-reality training environments. Research to enable training for air crews, command post staff, and commanders in an environment of such fidelity that it would be indistinguishable from the real world (and in fact would sometimes involve the real world—hence “mixed” rather than “virtual” or “augmented”). The computer tools used in such training environments should be the same as those used in the real world. An automated Air Operation Center staff assistant. Research to enable software that can learn from being told, much as human staff members learn on the job. Rapid system integration. Research to enable the rapid integration of IT-based systems, such as those belonging to different members of ad hoc coalitions. This research would encompass HSI, networks and communications, security, software, and information management. FUNDING MECHANISMS AFOSR’s current IS&T research is supported through a range of funding mechanisms, and the committee found that each of those mechanisms provides value and that the AFOSR program managers are doing a good job of making use of them. The committee does not recommend any hard-and-fast rules for balancing the various funding mechanisms; rather, it encourages continued flexibility and is comfortable with the current mix. The committee did observe, though, that it would be beneficial for AFOSR to increase the number of young investigators who are aware of Air Force
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs challenges. Therefore, it recommends that the Air Force consider establishing a mechanism for young investigator awards so as to raise its visibility within that group of IS&T researchers. FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS The committee observed that AFOSR’s IS&T portfolio is difficult to pin down because it is distributed among various programs in two AFOSR directorates. The committee recommends that AFOSR identify IS&T as a major topic within the Mathematics and Space Sciences Directorate and, as IS&T investment increases, establish a separate directorate with that single focus. It also recommends that all human-system and human effects research be consolidated within that IS&T directorate because of the critical importance of HSI to the effectiveness of complex Air Force systems. As the IS&T program grows, the committee sees an opportunity for AFOSR to try new mechanisms for recruiting program managers, especially by reaching out to the broader IS&T community. Mechanisms such as the Intergovernmental Personnel Act and the Experimental Personnel Hiring Authority can be very useful for bringing in both program managers and higher-level staff. Finally, the committee urges AFOSR to work with other parts of the Air Force to establish testbeds that will allow researchers and Air Force users to experiment with prototype IS&T concepts and systems. Besides the inherent benefit of experimental science, such an approach would provide an intellectual crossroads between the scientific and operational community to support the scientific discovery process. The committee uses the label “distributed research and experimentation environment” (DREE) to describe a shared computation infrastructure that supports experimentation within a community of researchers. The committee believes that DREEs would be useful for each area of research cited in this report. A DREE for information management, for instance, would enable the associated community—including universities, AFRL laboratories, and perhaps federally funded R&D centers—to create sample data sets and develop associated queries that illustrate how the data are to be integrated. A DREE related to network-centric systems would allow exercises from which concrete performance requirements could be generated; those requirements are difficult to identify otherwise. While exercises are ongoing, operational Air Force participants can clarify their real, not hypothetical, needs; IS&T applied researchers can investigate engineering issues with the prototype network; basic researchers in IS&T can experiment with fundamental changes (e.g., to communication protocols); and HSI researchers can instrument the experiments and learn from them.
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Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs The DREE approach to promoting experimental science should not be prohibitively expensive, because the necessary network infrastructure is rapidly falling into place and there is the possibility of leveraging investment in testbeds made by other AFRL directorates. For example, a research version of the Distributed Mission Training environment housed in AFRL’s Human Effectiveness Directorate might support experimental science in areas ranging from control of UAVs to decision making in real-time environments. The committee’s recommendation is that basic research funds not be used to establish DREEs, only to support the involvement of researchers.
Representative terms from entire chapter: