National Science Foundation awards UC Berkeley one of 31 knowledge-centered awards focusing on IT for the 21st century

From the National Science Foundation

BERKELEY-- The National Science Foundation (NSF) this week awarded $50 million in grants for broad-based research in knowledge and distributed intelligence (KDI). The awards are for projects as varied as knowledge networking in biocomplexity, earthquake computer modeling and case studies in intellectual property.

The 31 grants to two dozen institutions in 20 states "clearly demonstrate the enormous impact that the explosive growth in computer technology has had across all areas of science and engineering," says Richard Hilderbrandt, NSF program manager for the multi-disciplinary awards. "These awards are a solid>foundation for NSF's new initiative in information technology for the 21st Century (IT2)."

The far-reaching research awards include the University of California at Santa Barbara's Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity. Researchers hope, through this network, to apply to societal issues a broadened understanding of biocomplexity and ecological systems. They will create and integrate information resources that may be drawn from many distributed, currently autonomous data repositories. The researchers believe this will also help create a new community of environmental scientists who>will be able to focus attention on complex, multi-scale issues that previously were impractical, if not impossible, to study.

On another topic of great interest to scientists, the University of California, Berkeley, will undertake an extensive study on intellectual property, looking at the rights management issue from economic, legal and technical perspecitves. Hal Varian, dean of the School of Information Management and Systems, is principal investigator on this $940,000 project, entitled "Economic, Legal and Technical Dimensions of Rights Management."

Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh is receiving three grants totaling almost $5 million. One project involves the development of computer simulations to model and forecast ground motion during earthquakes, focusing on the areas in and around Los Angeles and San Francisco. In a second award, researchers are developing a TalkBank data archiving system to provide social and behavioral scientists a new web-based tool for transcribed video and audio data on communicative interactions. Yet another>grant will focus on the study of distance video communications and the impact on the quality of interactions among individuals using these technologies.

The Department of Commerce's National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) received the only grant in this group not awarded to a university. At NIST, scientists will develop a digital library of mathematical functions, a web accessible knowledge base of validated mathematical data. A key facet of this system will be the interactive features and internal/external links created that will allow for retrievals, searches and interactive visualizations among many other features.

"Most of these grants are split among at least two disciplines, with three or four disciplines often sharing in this research," Hilderbrandt said. The grants cover a three-year period.

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