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2009-2010 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory
To advance computational sciences and high-performance computing (HPC) technologies in support of Army systems;
To enhance warfighter effectiveness through environmental knowledge and technology;
To provide fused, timely information from all relevant sources to the warfighter; and
To develop self-configuring wireless network technologies that enable secure, scalable, energy-efficient, and survivable tactical networks.
ARLTAB’s previous report highlighted continuing significant advances made by CISD in the machine translation (MT) of foreign languages, atmospheric acoustics and radio-frequency (RF) and optical propagation in battlefield environments, and surface-level weather modeling. Promising advances were reported in experimental sensor systems (chemical and particle detection in aerosols and the atmosphere, microfluidic devices, and quantum dot formation for night-vision goggles); in the transition of previous prototype systems to products (e.g., achieving a 100-times reduction in the weight of a compact lidar system); in the development of a small, standardized battlefield network interface called the Blue Radio; and in theory and modeling (improving models of turbulence in the atmosphere, codes to design application-specific microfluidic devices, and calculations of binding affinities for potentially toxic chemical and biological compounds). All of these advances had two common characteristics: solid science and a clear understanding of the relationship to real Army problems.
Areas that were deemed challenges in the previous ARLTAB report included a need for more of a systems engineering outlook in projects, validation and verification (V&V) of models and computer codes, an increasing need to perform sophisticated analyses and data mining on experimental data, and the need to find a way to leverage the work done to date on Blue Radio (especially how to achieve a single-chip implementation that could be used in a variety of systems). The challenge of expanding beyond traditional computing applications could benefit, as indicated in the previous report, from the development of an ability to accumulate, analyze, understand, and efficiently process human and electronic intelligence about relationships between individuals and organizations in an asymmetric battlespace. Challenges also existed in moving the weather-modeling efforts from a concentration on the modeling of atmospheric physics to the building of real applications on top of such models. In the high-performance computing area, a need for additional research and development (R&D) resources was identified, specifically for developing a professional staff that is capable of building HPC software products that are efficient and application-specific. There also appeared to be a lack of HPC vision in the non-AC&CSD divisions of CISD.
Since the site visit of the panel in 2009, there has been no change in the overall organization of CISD and only one management change at the level of division chief. This degree of stability is in positive sharp contrast to the situation in prior years.
In terms of Collaborative Technology Alliances, both the Communications and Networking CTA and the Advanced Decision Architectures CTA (which CISD partnered with the Human Research and Engineering Directorate [HRED]) were completed, and work continued on the International Technology Alliance on Network and Information Sciences, initiated in 2008. The focus of this ITA is on managing end-to-end information flows in support of coalition decision making. The Networks CTA was started in FY 2010.