IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Committee on Depicting Innovation in Information Technology
Computer Science and Telecommunications Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
Support for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation under sponsor award number IIS-0840364. Any opinions expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agencies and organizations that provided support for the project.
Figure 1 designed by Dmitry Krasny, Deka Design. Text layout by Estelle Miller, The National Academies Press.
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COMMITTEE ON DEPICTING INNOVATION
IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
PETER LEE, Microsoft Research, Chair
MARK E. DEAN, IBM Corporation
DEBORAH L. ESTRIN, University of California, Los Angeles
JAMES T. KAJIYA, Microsoft Corporation
PRABHAKAR RAGHAVAN, Google, Inc.
ANDREW J. VITERBI, Viterbi Group, LLC
JON K. EISENBERG, CSTB Director
EMILY ANN MEYER, Study Director
SHENAE BRADLEY, Senior Program Assistant
COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD
ROBERT F. SPROULL, Oracle (retired), Chair
PRITHVIRAJ BANERJEE, Hewlett Packard Company
STEVEN M. BELLOVIN, Columbia University
JACK L. GOLDSMITH III, Harvard Law School
SEYMOUR E. GOODMAN, Georgia Institute of Technology
JON M. KLEINBERG, Cornell University
ROBERT KRAUT, Carnegie Mellon University
SUSAN LANDAU, Harvard University
PETER LEE, Microsoft Research
DAVID LIDDLE, U.S. Venture Partners
DAVID E. SHAW, D.E. Shaw Research
ALFRED Z. SPECTOR, Google, Inc.
JOHN STANKOVIC, University of Virginia
JOHN SWAINSON, Dell, Inc.
PETER SZOLOVITS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PETER J. WEINBERGER, Google, Inc.
ERNEST J. WILSON, University of Southern California
KATHERINE YELICK, University of California, Berkeley
JON K. EISENBERG, Director
RENEE HAWKINS, Financial and Administrative Manager
HERBERT S. LIN, Chief Scientist
LYNETTE I. MILLETT, Senior Program Officer
EMILY ANN MEYER, Program Officer
VIRGINIA BACON TALATI, Associate Program Officer
ENITA A. WILLIAMS, Associate Program Officer
SHENAE BRADLEY, Senior Program Assistant
ERIC WHITAKER, Senior Program Assistant
In 1995, the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) produced the report Evolving the High Performance Computing and Communications Initiative to Support the Nation’s Information Infrastructure.1 A graphic in that report, often called the “tire tracks” diagram because of its appearance, produced an extraordinary response by clearly linking investments in academic and industry research to the ultimate creation of new information technology (IT) industries with more than $1 billion in annual revenue.2 Used in presentations to Congress and executive branch decision makers and discussed broadly in the research and innovation policy communities, the tire tracks figure dispelled the assumption that the commercially successful IT industry is self-sufficient, underscoring how much industry instead builds on government-funded university research, sometimes through long incubation periods of years and even decades. It also compellingly illustrates the complex nature of research in the field and the interdependencies between various subfields of computing and communications research.
The figure was updated in the 2002 CSTB report Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government and again in the 2003 CSTB report Innovation in Information Technology, largely through the addition of tracks in important new areas such as entertainment and data mining. The 2003 report also distilled key lessons from eight prior CSTB studies about the nature of research in information technology—including the unpredictability of and synergy among research results; the roles of government, industry, and academia; and the social returns from research. A 2009 report, Assessing the Impacts of Changes in the Information Technology R&D Ecosystem: Retaining Leadership in an Increasingly Global Environment, reproduced the 2003 update to the diagram and explored many of the related themes.
Computing research and its impacts have continued to evolve and blossom in the years since the 2003 version of the tire tracks figure was published. With the support of the National Science
1 All NRC/CSTB reports referred to in this preface were published by the National Academy Press/The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., in the year indicated.
2 IT advances have of course also had profound impacts on nearly every major industry sector, not just IT industries; these indirect effects were not the focus of the present project.
Statement of Task
A small committee will update a previously issued figure depicting the role that government-supported, academic, and industrial research plays in the formation of major new IT capabilities (as measured by the emergence of billion-dollar information technology industries). The update will introduce additional billion-dollar industries and other developments as appropriate. A brief report will highlight the updated tire tracks figure and summarize key points from past CSTB reports related to the results of IT research; the nature and success of the U.S. research partnership among government, industry, and universities; economic payoffs of investments in research; and the evolution of the U.S. IT R&D ecosystem. The report will not contain any new findings and recommendations.
Foundation, CSTB undertook a project to prepare an update. The task of the Committee on Depicting Innovation in Information Technology was threefold (see box): (1) to reconsider important research areas and significant billion-dollar-plus IT industries that had emerged since the 2003 report, (2) to reconsider how best to characterize and depict these investments and impacts, and (3) to recap and update the material in the 2003 report that accompanied the tire tracks figure and that presents related lessons on the impact of research on innovation in information technology.
In updating the content of the figure, the committee drew on the earlier CSTB work as well as the committee’s own knowledge of key research contributions and results, and also obtained input on these from a number of computing researchers whose contributions are acknowledged below. The committee conducted meetings by teleconference and collaborated extensively by e-mail to develop the present report. In reconsidering the design of the figure, the committee explored several design approaches, some quite different from that in the original 1995 figure, and worked with a designer to explore alternatives. Ultimately, the committee decided to retain many features of the original tire tracks while somewhat changing the overall structure and adding some elements as outlined in the first section of this report.
The new figure is accompanied by a brief text based in large part on prior CSTB reports. Unless otherwise indicated in the notes, the primary source is the 2003 report Innovation in Information Technology. Where appropriate, the committee has updated the text to provide more current information and recent examples. For readability, direct extracts from earlier CSTB work are not set in quotation marks.
The committee thanks the following researchers who provided input on specific technical and research questions: Yossi Azar, Victor Bahl, Suman Banerjee, Doug Burger, Surajit Chaudhuri, Carlos Guestrin, Hauges Hoppe, Andrew Hopper, Eric Horvitz, Butler Lampson, James Landay, Paul Larson, Ed Lazowska, James Lee, David Lomet, Beth Mynatt, David Patterson, Yuval Peres, and Mani Srivastava. We also are sincerely appreciative of the services and leadership of Eugene Spafford, chair of the committee from September 2009 to January 2011. Finally, the committee thanks Dmitry Krasny, Deka Design, for his expert design assistance in realizing the committee’s vision for Figure 1.
Peter Lee, Chair
Committee on Depicting Innovation in Information Technology
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Peter Freeman, Georgia Institute of Technology
Susan Graham, University of California, Berkeley
Laura Haas, IBM Almaden Research Center
David Patterson, University of California, Berkeley
Jennifer Rexford, Princeton University
Robert F. Sproull, Oracle (retired)
John Stankovic, University of Virginia
Patrick Winston, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Katherine Yelick, University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Joseph Traub, Columbia University. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.