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CISE - CNS - About

CNS supports research and education activities that invent new computing and networking technologies and that explore new ways to make use of existing technologies. The Division seeks to develop a better understanding of the fundamental properties of computer and network systems and to create better abstractions and tools for designing, building, analyzing, and measuring future systems. The Division also supports the computing infrastructure that is required for experimental computer science, and it coordinates cross-divisional activities that foster the integration of research, education, and workforce development.

In addition to the current proposal solicitations pertaining to the CNS research and education, CNS also considers proposals focusing on education, workforce development, and other activities that are of general interest to CISE and that are not covered by other NSF solicitations.  Awards may be given to provide seed funding to explore a novel educational idea, support a demonstration project, workshops or studies on topics of broad interest to CISE.

Prior to submitting a proposal, investigators targeting such activities must first submit a short description of the proposed project activities by e-mail to  A program officer will then assess the appropriateness of the project and will discuss this with the investigator.   If the project is determined to be appropriate, the investigator will be instructed as to how to submit a formal proposal.

The CNS Division is organized into four clusters, each of which is responsible for a related set of activities.


Computer Systems Cluster

Future computing systems will be required to control a greater variety of computing, communication, storage, and external devices; to support a broader range of increasingly demanding applications; and to manage hundreds of asynchronous activities correctly, securely, and reliably. This cluster supports research and education activities that address these requirements in a variety of systems, including distributed, mobile, and embedded systems; sensing and control systems; dynamically configured, multiple-component systems; parallel systems; and trusted systems.

Areas of current interest include new ways to organize systems (e.g., peer to peer); software architectures that scale to handle thousands of components or a spectrum of heterogeneous components; ways to handle complex combinations of requirements, such as meeting real-time constraints and coordinating control in an embedded, failure-prone environment; methods that enable systems to detect problems and to take corrective action without human intervention; tools to analyze and predict the behavior of complete computing systems; compiler and runtime techniques for developing and controlling the execution of complex, dynamically changing applications; storage systems that are low-cost, scalable, and reliable; and operating systems and libraries for new technologies.

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Computing Research Infrastructure Cluster

An important component of experimental computing is building prototypes and test beds, and this requires having an experimental infrastructure. This cluster provides support for the acquisition, enhancement, and operation of experimental facilities for all CISE research and education areas. Supported facilities range from instrumentation needed by a few projects to major experimental facilities for an entire department. Support is also provided to enhance the computational and human infrastructure in minority-serving institutions and to support the equipment needs of collaborative, distributed research projects. A goal for the coming year is to support a wider range of infrastructure needs, research projects, and institutions.

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Education and Workforce Cluster

Rapid advances in computing technology lead to the need to transfer research results into the classroom. Developing and making effective use of new research results requires a well-educated and diverse workforce that is representative of and able to interact with the entire populace. This cluster supports projects that integrate research and education across CISE, study the causes of the current lack of diversity in the information technology workforce, and lead to a broadening of participation by all under-represented groups. To achieve these goals, the cluster works closely with all CISE divisions. It also coordinates the participation by CISE in a portfolio of NSF-wide education and workforce programs.

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Network Systems Cluster

Future networks are likely to exhibit unpredictable and complex behavior and dynamics; to span a broad range of technologies and bandwidths, from wireless sensors to high-performance, international connections; and to carry increasingly large amounts of increasingly demanding traffic. This cluster supports a range of research and education activities in networking technology and systems. Its goals are to sustain the science and technology needed to create next-generation networks as well as to address the limitations of existing networks.

Topical areas of current interest include projects to create next-generation networks, increase fundamental understanding of large and complex heterogeneous networks, and continue the evolution of the network by overcoming existing limitations and by adding new capabilities and services. Targeted focus areas are programmable wireless networks, which seek to exploit the capabilities of programmable radios to make more effective use of the frequency spectrum and to improve wireless network connectivity; and networking of sensor systems, which seeks to create architectures, tools, algorithms, and systems that will make it easy to assemble and configure a network of sensor systems.

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