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Background-HPCCI and NII

The federal High Performance Computing and Communications Initiative (HPCCI) was the culmination of a decade of activity focused on building truly high performance computing and communications tools and putting them in the hands of science and engineering users within the United States. This activity dates back to the Lax report (Lax, 1982) and included the founding of the National Science Foundation supercomputer centers in the mid-1980s and the establishment of high-performance computing centers by other agencies as well. The HPCCI developed out of discussions within federal agencies in the late 1980s, leading to the publication of a program strategy in 1987 and a program plan in 1989.

The HPCCI was formalized in the fiscal year (FY) 1992 President's budget and by the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-94) authorizing a 5-year program in high-performance computing and communications. This legislation affirmed the interagency character of the HPCCI, assigning broad research and development emphases to the 10 federal agencies that were then participating in the program, without precluding the future participation of other agencies.

One major goal of the HPCCI was to provide the computational and communications infrastructure needed to attack truly difficult problems in science and engineering, known as Grand Challenges. The Grand Challenges identified in the first annual program plan, known as the Blue Book (OSTP, 1993), were the following:



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--> BBackground-HPCCI and NII The federal High Performance Computing and Communications Initiative (HPCCI) was the culmination of a decade of activity focused on building truly high performance computing and communications tools and putting them in the hands of science and engineering users within the United States. This activity dates back to the Lax report (Lax, 1982) and included the founding of the National Science Foundation supercomputer centers in the mid-1980s and the establishment of high-performance computing centers by other agencies as well. The HPCCI developed out of discussions within federal agencies in the late 1980s, leading to the publication of a program strategy in 1987 and a program plan in 1989. The HPCCI was formalized in the fiscal year (FY) 1992 President's budget and by the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-94) authorizing a 5-year program in high-performance computing and communications. This legislation affirmed the interagency character of the HPCCI, assigning broad research and development emphases to the 10 federal agencies that were then participating in the program, without precluding the future participation of other agencies. One major goal of the HPCCI was to provide the computational and communications infrastructure needed to attack truly difficult problems in science and engineering, known as Grand Challenges. The Grand Challenges identified in the first annual program plan, known as the Blue Book (OSTP, 1993), were the following:

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--> Forecasting severe weather events, Cancer gene research, Predicting new superconductors, Simulating and visualizing air pollution, Aerospace vehicle design, Energy conservation and turbulent combustion, Microelectronics design and packaging, and Earth biosphere research. In subsequent years, other Grand Challenge areas were added. By focusing on problem solving, the HPCCI greatly improved the interaction between technology developers and end users of the technology. That interaction accelerated progress in the development and deployment of high-performance systems, networks, software, and associated usability technologies. However, one criticism of the HPCCI was that although the focus on Grand Challenges was very important to science and engineering and provided valuable balance to the program, its impact on the average citizen was very indirect (CSPP, 1991). In response to this criticism, the initiative was extended in the FY 1995 Blue Book (OSTP, 1994a) to include research on the development and application of a national information infrastructure (NII) that would leverage technologies and applications associated with elements of the HPCCI. In addition, it extended the application focus to include several National Challenges, which address critical needs of our society and can benefit from high-performance computing and communications and NII research. The National Challenges can be viewed as national-scale applications. The National Challenges listed in the FY 1996 Blue Book (NSTC, 1995) included education and lifelong learning, digital libraries, health care, manufacturing, electronic commerce, environmental monitoring, energy management, civil infrastructure management, and public access to government information. A 1994 report on information infrastructure technology and applications (OSTP, 1994b)—an HPCCI component—notes crisis management as an additional National Challenge.