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National Science Foundation
NSF-Wide Investment - Cyberinfrastructure
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Model of esperamicin A1 with the warhead portion displayed in orange. Enediynes are naturally occurring molecules commonly called biological warheads for their ability to bind to and split tumor's DNA backbones. Credit: Images by Steven Feldgus; simulation completed using computational resources provided by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)
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Mercury, the first TeraGrid cluster, deployed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), runs on Intel's Itanium architecture. The 512-processor cluster has a peak performance of 2.7 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second).
Credit: NCSA
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Shown here is a visualization generated from forecast data from the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS) at the University of Oklahoma.
Credit: Kelvin Droegemeier, CAPS director; NCSA

To provide user-friendly, reliable information technology and knowledge management resources to all researchers and educators to catalyze discovery at the frontiers of all science and engineering disciplines. With a well-established cyberinfrastructure, researchers will be able to access the world's highest-performance digital resources in order to tackle questions previously thought unapproachable because of their complexity or scope.

Information technology-enabled systems, tools and services have accelerated science and engineering research and education. Integrated to create a national cyberinfrastructure, these systems, tools and services are enabling individuals, groups and organizations to advance science and engineering in ways that revolutionize what they can do, how they do it, and who can participate. Building on its long history of leadership in this area, NSF’s current focus is to develop a comprehensive cyberinfrastructure which links advanced computing engines, data archives and digital libraries, observation and sensor systems, and other research and education instrumentation into a common framework. This progress will fuel the creation of powerful NSF-supported research and education tools that enable discovery, learning and innovation across a range of science and engineering disciplines.

Nearly all the scientific and engineering disciplines confront challenges in managing and analyzing vast amounts of data or modeling complex processes across many scales. Cyberinfrastructure has become a common theme throughout NSF, and every directorate has funded or is exploring cyberinfrastructure-related projects.

Potential Impact
Over time, NSF investments will contribute to the development of a powerful, stable, persistent and widely accessible cyberinfrastructure to enable the work of science and engineering researchers and educators across the nation and around the world.

Example: Earthquake Prediction
Deep within an active fault zone, EarthScope's San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth will measure changes in rock properties before, during and after earthquakes. Linked to other EarthScope measurements at the surface, these direct observations will for the first time, monitor how an active fault and its environment respond to regional and local changes in stress. Recorded over a decade, this combination of measurements will provide important new insights on earthquake nucleation and rupture.

In other examples, environmental scientists and engineers are drawing upon cyberinfrastructure to investigate the complexity of our environment, from the molecular to the planetary scale. Plant biologists are using cyberinfrastructure tools to reveal the structure and function of plant genes at levels from the molecular to organismal levels. Computer scientists and engineers are conducting research on next-generation systems architectures to enable future generations of cyberinfrastructure.

Long-Term Goal
NSF investments in this area will, over time, help develop a powerful, stable, persistent and widely accessible cyberinfrastructure which will enable the work of researchers and educators across the nation and around the world.

FY 2006 Areas of Emphasis
NSF’s current cyberinfrastructure investments are guided by three principles: (1) science and engineering opportunities must drive cyberinfrastructure investments; (2) development of intellectual capital to develop, sustain and effectively utilize cyberinfrastructure is critical; and (3) unwavering attention to interoperability and sustainability will provide economies of scale and scope as well as guard against the balkanization of science.

NSF's FY 2006 investments in cyberinfrastructure will promote science and engineering advances across all disciplines and will foster the integration of state-of-the-art research and education tools.

The agency's Fiscal Year 2006 investments include support for

  • High-end computing architecture research
  • Preparation of scientists and engineers to effectively use cyberinfrastructure
  • The Protein Data Bank
  • The National Radio Astronomy and National Optical Astronomy Observatories
  • The National STEM Digital Library and Digital Library for Earth Science Education
  • Social and behavioral science data collections and to address issues such as confidentiality protection and means for securing worldwide, user-friendly access
  • Multiple projects to provide the nation’s science and engineering community access to high-end computing and other cyberinfrastructure resources, as well as to develop next-generation data management systems and associated tools

Related Resources

Cyberinfrastructure in FY 2006 Budget Request (pages 395-397)

"Cyberinfrastructure Poised to Revolutionize Environmental Sciences and Other Disciplines" (NSF Press Release 04-014)

"Cyber Security: A Crisis of Prioritization" - President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) 2005 Report

Cyberinfrastructure Special Report

Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE)

"Guide to the NITRD program Fiscal Year 2004 – Fiscal Year 2005 Supplement to the President's Budget" for the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program

Office of Polar Program's Arctic Cyberinfrastructure and Sensor program

Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Supplement to the President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2006

"Revolutionizing Science and Engineering through Cyberinfrastructure" – 2003 NSF Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure Report

Office of Cyberinfrastructure (OCI) Active Funding Opportunities