Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation

On September 28, 2007, the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a solicitation for proposals under a major new initiative, called Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI). See the formal solicitation for the precise description of the program. The NSF has budgeted a minimum of $26M in 2008 for CDI, with substantial increases in funding anticipated over the next five years. CDI seeks to support ambitious, transformative, multidisciplinary research that, through computational thinking, promises radical, paradigm-changing research findings, within or across the following three thematic areas:

  • From Data to Knowledge: enhancing human cognition and generating new knowledge from a wealth of heterogeneous digital data;
  • Understanding Complexity in Natural, Built, and Social Systems: deriving fundamental insights on systems comprising multiple interacting elements; and
  • Building Virtual Organizations: enhancing discovery and innovation by bringing people and resources together across institutional, geographical and cultural boundaries.

Solicitation highlights

For the first round,

  • A letter of intent must be submitted between October 30 and November 30, 2007;
  • A preliminary proposal is due between December 7, 2007 and January 8, 2008;
  • Full proposals will be by invitation only based on review of the preliminary proposal, and must be submitted between March 28 and April 29, 2008.
  • In this first round of the competition CDI smaller grants will fund summer support for 2 investigators along with support for 2 graduate students, and materials, supplies and travel for 3 years; larger grants will fund summer support for 3 investigators along with support for 3 graduate students, 1-2 postdocs or research staff, and materials, supplies and travel for 4 years.
Larger grants are anticipated in future rounds, starting with letters of intent due by September 30, 2008 and annually thereafter.

Proposals may only be submitted by U.S. universities and colleges and certain non-profits such as museums and observatories. Shared cost partnerships with industrial and other organizations, domestic and international, are encouraged.

Mathematics and CDI

It is clear that mathematics must play a key role in research in the areas outlined for this initiative. The Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation is strongly supportive of the involvement of mathematical and cross-disciplinary groups in research projects connected with CDI. As a first step in promoting mathematics involvement, the NSF Mathematical Sciences Institutes have begun a coordinated effort to inform the mathematical community about this initiative and to facilitate the development of research proposals.

Initial workshops

In the coming weeks there will be four NSF workshops on CDI at NSF Institutes. A preliminary description of the workshops is as follows.

  • On October 12, 2007, a one-day workshop will be held at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) on Computation and Complex Systems. This is planned to include key lectures about large scale interdisciplinary problems, round table discussions about mathematical challenges in these and related areas, and Q & A sessions about the structure of the CDI initiative and the NSF's expectations for proposals.
  • On October 29, a one-day workshop will be held at the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM) focused on the knowledge extraction aspect of CDI. It is expected that there will be an information session including Q & A with NSF representatives, as well as several panels where each panelist will present slides about what they consider to be the interesting and important questions of long-term significance, followed by a discussion with Q & A. Possible topics include (i) Numerical Methods for Fast Knowledge Extraction, (ii) Nonlinear Methods for Dimensional Reduction, (iii) Knowledge Extraction from Images and Problems of Visualization, (iv) Discrete and Graph-based Techniques for Knowledge Extraction and Analysis of Large Networks, as well as selected examples of success stories in relevant earlier research.
  • On October 30, a one-day workshop will be held at the Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI) focusing on opportunities for mathematicians who are interested in doing interdisciplinary work related to biology. This workshop will include overview talks and panel discussions, and presentations from representatives of the NSF Division of Mathematical Sciences and Directorate for Biological Sciences.
  • On November 1, a one-day workshop will be held at the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI). There will be a presentation by NSF officers concerning the new initiative, followed by a Q & A session, as well as overview presentations by experts on issues and challenges in the areas of Knowledge Extraction, Interacting Elements, Computational Experimentation and Virtual Environments. There will also be presentations on CDI-type problems from industry, national laboratories, or other sciences who might be interested in establishing collaborations with mathematical and statistical scientists to pursue the problems.

Support for project planning and proposal preparation

The Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) is supporting visits by groups of mathematicians and scientists who wish to meet to at the IMA to explore possible research projects related to CDI and/or for proposal preparation, and the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) is holding a workshop for teams preparing submissions:

Other meetings related to CDI

Other information about CDI on the web