FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR
NSF ADVANCED COMPUTING
U.S. SCIENCE AND
ENGINEERING IN 2017-2020
Committee on Future Directions for NSF Advanced Computing Infrastructure
to Support U.S. Science in 2017-2020
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.
This project was supported by the National Science Foundation, Award OCI-1344417. Any opinions, findings, or conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project.
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Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
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COMMITTEE ON FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR NSF
ADVANCED COMPUTING INFRASTRUCTURE
TO SUPPORT U.S. SCIENCE IN 2017-2020
WILLIAM D. GROPP, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Co-Chair
ROBERT HARRISON, Stony Brook University, Co-Chair
MARK R. ABBOTT, Oregon State University
DAVID ARNETT, University of Arizona
ROBERT L. GROSSMAN, University of Chicago
PETER M. KOGGE, University of Notre Dame
PADMA RAGHAVAN, Pennsylvania State University
DANIEL A. REED, University of Iowa
VALERIE TAYLOR, Texas A&M University
KATHERINE A. YELICK, University of California, Berkeley
JON EISENBERG, Director, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, and Study Director
SHENAE BRADLEY, Senior Program Assistant
COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD
ROBERT F. SPROULL, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Chair
LUIZ ANDRÉ BARROSO, Google, Inc.
STEVEN M. BELLOVIN, Columbia University
ROBERT F. BRAMMER, Brammer Technology, LLC
EDWARD FRANK, Brilliant Lime and Cloud Parity
SEYMOUR E. GOODMAN, Georgia Institute of Technology
LAURA HAAS, IBM Corporation
MARK HOROWITZ, Stanford University
MICHAEL KEARNS, University of Pennsylvania
ROBERT KRAUT, Carnegie Mellon University
SUSAN LANDAU, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
PETER LEE, Microsoft Corporation
DAVID E. LIDDLE, US Venture Partners
BARBARA LISKOV, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
JOHN STANKOVIC, University of Virginia
JOHN A. SWAINSON, Dell, Inc.
ERNEST J. WILSON, University of Southern California
KATHERINE YELICK, University of California, Berkeley
JON EISENBERG, Director
VIRGINIA BACON TALATI, Program Officer
SHENAE BRADLEY, Senior Program Assistant
RENEE HAWKINS, Financial and Administrative Manager
HERBERT S. LIN, Chief Scientist
LYNETTE I. MILLETT, Associate Director
ERIC WHITAKER, Senior Program Assistant
For more information on CSTB, see its website at
http://www.cstb.org; write to CSTB, National Research Council,
500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001; call (202) 334-2605; or
e-mail CSTB at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advanced computing, a term used in this report to include both compute- and data-intensive capabilities, is used to tackle a rapidly growing range of challenging science and engineering problems. The National Science Foundation (NSF) requested that the National Research Council (NRC) carry out a study examining anticipated priorities and associated trade-offs for advanced computing in support of NSF-sponsored science and engineering research. The study encompasses advanced computing activities and programs throughout NSF, including but not limited to, those of its Division on Advanced Cyberinfrastructure. The statement of task for the full NRC study is given in Box P.1. In response to this request, the NRC established the Committee on Future Directions for NSF Advanced Computing Infrastructure to Support U.S. Science in 2017-2020 (see Appendix A). As part of the study, the sponsor also requested an interim report in 2014 that identifies key issues and discusses potential options.
The committee has begun its work by gathering and reviewing relevant materials, receiving testimony and comments from individuals, and identifying additional experts to receive testimony from and additional sources of information. The information collection is still incomplete, but some important issues have begun to come into focus. Mindful that NSF seeks timely input for its budget process and that the issues raised in the study merit broad input from the science and engineering communities that use, develop, and provide advanced computing capabilities, the study committee offers this interim report to frame issues it believes that
Statement of Task
A study committee will examine anticipated priorities and associated trade-offs for advanced computing in support of National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored science and engineering research. Advanced computing capabilities are used to tackle a rapidly growing range of challenging science and engineering problems, many of which are compute-, communications-, and data-intensive as well. The committee will consider:
1. The contribution of high-end computing to U.S. leadership and competiveness in basic science and engineering and the role that NSF should play in sustaining this leadership;
2. Expected future national-scale computing needs: high-end requirements, those arising from the full range of basic science and engineering research supported by NSF, as well as the computing infrastructure needed to support advances in modeling and simulation as well as data analysis;
3. Complementarities and trade-offs that arise among investments in supporting advanced computing ecosystems; software, data, communications;
4. The range of operational models for delivering computational infrastructure, for basic science and engineering research, and the role of NSF support in these various models; and
5. Expected technical challenges to affordably delivering the capabilities needed for world-leading scientific and engineering research.
An interim report will identify key issues and discuss potential options. It might contain preliminary findings and early recommendations. A final report will include a framework for future decision making about NSF’s advanced computing strategy and programs. The framework will address such issues as how to prioritize needs and investments and how to balance competing demands for cyberinfrastructure investments. The report will emphasize identifying issues, explicating options, and articulating trade-offs and general recommendations.
The study will not make recommendations concerning the level of federal funding for computing infrastructure.
NSF and the committee itself need to consider, and to stimulate discussion and encourage feedback to the committee on these issues.
What follows is an initial compilation of issues that the committee believes will need to be considered as future NSF strategy, budgets, and programs for advanced computing are developed, together with key issues on which the committee invites comment. This list is preliminary, and the committee anticipates adding to and refining this list as it prepares its final report. Appendix B provides a supplemental set of questions focused on the needs of users of advanced computing on which the committee also invites comment.
Some issues will require further input and deliberation before the committee comments on them. For example, the committee has not yet devoted much attention to Item 1 in the statement of task, regarding the contribution of high-end computing to U.S. leadership and competiveness and the role that NSF should play in sustaining this leadership. It has also not addressed issues around data curation, access, and sustainability, which, although not central to the committee’s task, will nonetheless be important elements of NSF’s future strategy for advanced computing.
We invite your feedback on this report and, more generally, your comments on the future of advanced computing at NSF. You may provide feedback by email to <email@example.com> or via the project’s public feedback page at <www.nas.edu/sciencecomputing>.
William D. Gropp and Robert Harrison, Co-Chairs
Committee on Future Directions for NSF
Advanced Computing Infrastructure to
Support U.S. Science in 2017-2020
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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:
Amy W. Apon, Clemson University,
Daniel E. Atkins III, University of Michigan,
Thom H. Dunning, Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing,
Susan L. Graham, University of California, Berkeley,
Laura Haas, IBM Research,
Tony Hey, Microsoft Research,
Michael L. Klein, Temple University, and
Linda Petzold, University of California, Santa Barbara.
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 Elsa M. Garmire,
Dartmouth College. Appointed by the National Research Council, she 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.