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305 A blessing, because (in a well-conceived program) the provision of adequate computational facilities need not be a major drain on the resources devoted to astronomy. I I . CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Two main themes threaded through all the discussions of the Panel. First, in order to achieve a well-balanced astronomy program and enhance the scientific productivity of present and planned instruments, it is essential that support for theoretical computations be increased substan- tially. Second, we are in the first stages of a data explosion resulting from the growing implementation of solid-state array detectors. The provision of the compu- tational capability to handle this data explosion is equally essential. Based on these conclusions, the Panel makes one primary recommendation with four corollaries. m e motivation for this recommendation is discussed below in the sections on theoretical computing and on image processing and analy- sis, while more specific details of the recommendation are given in Appendix A. The recommendation is as follows: 1. A steady level of funding should be provided for the purposes of distributing dedicated minicomputer-based systems throughout the astronomical community, maintaining and operating them, and replacing them at regular inter- vals as they become obsolete. In addition, software for these facilities must be developed and/or provided and maintained. The necessary facilities are estimated to be equivalent to 30 of the "canonical" systems described in Appendix A. Approximately one third of the capability is needed for theoretical computations and the remaining two thirds for image processing and analysis. We estimate that the steady funding level required to implement this recommendation is as follows: $1.5 million/year for capital equipment $0.7 million/year for equipment maintenance $1.5 million/year for (software) personnel Although the funding agencies should be responsible for the capital equipment costs, the maintenance and person- nel costs provide an opportunity for cost sharing. The annual cost to the funding agencies will be $2.6 million
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306 to $3.7 million/year depending on the degree of cost sharing achieved. 1A. (Corollary) There exist computational prob- lems of outstanding importance to astrophysics that can be solved only with the aid of the most advanced comput- ers. We urge the funding agencies to use their influence to ensure that qualified astrophysicists continue to have access to the largest and most sophisticated computing equipment. 1B. (Corollary) Funding of small theoretical research programs and university computer centers should continue in those cases for which the level of funding does not justify the purchase of dedicated systems. m e cooperative arrangements made by some astronomers with large laboratories for the purpose of gaining access to the largest and fastest computers are very important and should be continued. 1C. (Corollary) In order to minimize the duplica- tion of image-analysis software development efforts, the National Astronomy Centers should take the lead in devel- oping portable, well-documented software and assisting users with the implementation and operation of this software on the facilities at their home institutions. This is estimated to require an additional man-year per center per year over and above that needed to satisfy the internal software requirements of the Centers. ID. (Corollary) The establishment of decentralized astronomical computational facilities will require consid- erable coordination. A permanent committee should be formed, perhaps under the auspices of the American Astro- nomical Society (AAS). This committee would be charged with periodically reviewing and evaluating the health of astronomical computing, coordinating the development of standardized software and data formats, and promoting discussion and interchange of ideas among users of astro- nomical computational facilities. We make two additional recommendations. Implementation of these recommendations will be of great value to the astronomical community; however, they are not so essen- tial as Recommendation 1. 2. Funding should be provided to establish, maintain, and operate data archives at each major observatory when suitable archival media become available (see Section VI, Data Archiving). 3. m e development of computer-accessible astronomical
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