Policy: Republicans Eye Bigger Science Budgets; NSF Celebrates 70th, Names Idea Machine Winners

By John Russell

February 5, 2020

It’s a busy week for science policy. Yesterday, the National Science Foundation announced winners of its 2026 Idea Machine contest seeking directions for future NSF work. NSF is also celebrating its 70th birthday with a two-day symposium beginning Thursday. Meanwhile, discussion is just ramping up around a proposal from Republicans introduced last week to increase science spending by several government agencies over the next ten years.

Tackling the latter first, Republican members of the House Science committee submitted a bill that would roughly double the budgets of select science agencies by fiscal year 2029; those include:

  • Department of Energy Office of Science (from $7 billion to $13.2 billion)
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (from $425 million to $1 billion)
  • National Science Foundation (from $8.3 billion to $14.9 billion)
  • NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (from $590 million to $1.2 billion)
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (from $1 billion to $1.8 billion)

The bill – H.R. 5685, the Securing American Leadership in Science and Technology Act – was introduced by Representative Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma). It contends, “The U.S. is facing two fundamental challenges to our competitiveness and growth as a nation: First, foreign countries, especially China, are threatening to outpace us in the science and technology that has paid dividends to our country’s economy and national security for decades. Second, we must respond to a changing climate and develop next-generation technologies to understand it, address it, and mitigate it.”

There’s a long road between submission and passage. Stay tuned.

Priming the NSF Idea Machine

As described by NSF, “The NSF 2026 Idea Machine encouraged individuals from all walks of life, age 14 or older, to submit pressing “grand challenges” requiring fundamental research in science, engineering, or STEM education in order to inform NSF’s long-term planning. Approximately 800 entries were received from nearly every state in the U.S. and from established researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, teachers on behalf of their classes, and high school and middle school students. The submitted entries went through five selection stages, including a public comment phase. A blue-ribbon panel of 12 eminent, broad thinkers recommended seven ideas for the final prizes that were found to be exciting, ambitious, creative, and highly interdisciplinary.”

NSF has now announced four Grand Prize winners ($26,000 each) and three meritorious prize winners ($10,000 each) for its Idea Machine contest launched in the summer of 2018.

The grand prize winners are:

  • Engineered Living Materials: Neel Joshi, Anna Duraj-Thatte and Avinash Manjula-Basavanna – Harvard University
  • From Thinking to Inventing: Matthias Scheutz and Vasanth Sarathy – Tufts University
  • Public Carbon Capture and Sequestration: Karin Pfennig – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Emergence: Complexity from the Bottom Up: Abraham Herzog-Arbeitman* – University of Chicago

The meritorious prize winners are:

  • Unlocking the Future of Infrastructure: Juan Pablo Gevaudan* – University of Colorado at Boulder; Chelsea Heveran – Montana State University
  • Reinventing Scientific Talent: Jason Williams – Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • Theory of Conscious Experience: Vincent Conitzer – Duke University

All of the efforts will require significant computational firepower but perhaps the one focused most on computational technology itself is Thinking to Inventing, from grand prize winners Scheutz and Sarathy. Here’s NSF’s brief description (lightly edited): 

“[W]hat if machines could do more than execute tasks? What if, like their inventors, machines could exhibit enough common sense to evaluate real-world problems, imagine and execute solutions? “From Thinking to Inventing” proposes a new era of AI research, where machines could learn to model human creativity and thought processes in order to evaluate, improvise and ultimately solve new and complex challenges. It asks what can machines invent and how?

“NSF investments have contributed fundamentally to modern AI research. Six decades of investments have enabled AI advancements that bear impact on all aspects of society, from severe weather predictions to life-saving interventions. “From Thinking to Inventing” builds upon that foundation.

“This research could revolutionize AI from pattern-matching machines to problem-solving allies. It could examine the very nature of problem-solving through computational and cognitive scientific lenses. It will aim to develop a deeper understanding of human creativity and apply that insight to the realm of AI.”

To view the video pitches of the top 33 ideas submitted to this competition as well as more information on this competition, visit the NSF 2026 Idea Machine website.

NSF is 70 Years Young

Lastly let’s turn to NSF itself and its 70th celebratory symposium being held at NSF in Alexandria, VA. On Thursday, NSF Director France Córdova will moderate a panel discussion with six former directors of the agency, and the biographer of eminent electrical engineer Vannevar Bush will reflect on the legacy of “Science, the Endless Frontier,” Bush’s landmark 1945 report that led to the creation of NSF in 1950. Leaders of several federal science agencies will also discuss the “importance of forming partnerships to address national priorities,” with a focus on quantum science, artificial intelligence, and the future of work.

The first day will conclude with remarks from White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Kelvin Droegemeier. The second day will feature panel discussions on NSF’s 10 Big Ideas, the agency’s role in supporting “Industries of the Future,” and the National Science Board’s forthcoming Vision 2030 report.

It’s worth mentioning another NSF historic moment –  the creation of the supercomputing centers. In 1983, Larry Smarr (then at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) was the first to propose what would later become known as the NSF Supercomputer Centers program, followed shortly by a proposal from UCSD’s Sid Karin. The two went on to become the founding directors of the first two NSF supercomputer centers — Larry Smarr, of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at UIUC; and Sid Karin of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego. Smarr is also the founding director of Calit2 at UCSD.

Link to H.R. 5685: https://republicans-science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/SALSTA%20for%20Introduction.pdf

Link to NSF 2026 Idea Machine release: https://nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=299946&org=NSF&from=news

Link to NSF 2026 Idea Machine web site: https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/nsf2026ideamachine/index.jsp

Link to NSF 70thCelebration Symposium agenda: https://www.nsf.gov/about/history/70th%20Symposium%20PUBLIC%20full%20Panel%20Agenda_v8%20final_508w.pdf

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industry updates delivered to you every week!

U.S. Quantum Director Charles Tahan Calls for NQIA Reauthorization Now

February 29, 2024

(February 29, 2024) Origin stories make the best superhero movies. I am no superhero, but I still remember what my undergraduate thesis advisor said when I told him that I wanted to design quantum computers in graduate s Read more…

pNFS Provides Performance and New Possibilities

February 29, 2024

At the cusp of a new era in technology, enterprise IT stands on the brink of the most profound transformation since the Internet's inception. This seismic shift is propelled by the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), Read more…

Celebrating 35 Years of HPCwire by Recognizing 35 HPC Trailblazers

February 29, 2024

In 1988, a new IEEE conference debuted in Orlando, Florida. The planners were expecting 200-300 attendees because the conference was focused on an obscure topic called supercomputing, but when it was announced that S Read more…

Forrester’s State of AI Report Suggests a Wave of Disruption Is Coming

February 28, 2024

The explosive growth of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) heralds opportunity and disruption across industries. It is transforming how we interact with technology itself. During this early phase of GenAI technol Read more…

Q-Roundup: Google on Optimizing Circuits; St. Jude Uses GenAI; Hunting Majorana; Global Movers

February 27, 2024

Last week, a Google-led team reported developing a new tool - AlphaTensor Quantum - based on deep reinforcement learning (DRL) to better optimize circuits. A week earlier a team working with St. Jude Children’s Hospita Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 2283618597

Deep-dive into Ansys Fluent performance on Ansys Gateway powered by AWS

Today, we’re going to deep-dive into the performance and associated cost of running computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations on AWS using Ansys Fluent through the Ansys Gateway powered by AWS (or just “Ansys Gateway” for the rest of this post). Read more…

Argonne Aurora Walk About Video

February 27, 2024

In November 2023, Aurora was ranked #2 on the Top 500 list. That ranking was with half of Aurora running the HPL benchmark. It seems after much delay, 2024 will finally be Aurora's time in the spotlight. For those cur Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1988202119

pNFS Provides Performance and New Possibilities

February 29, 2024

At the cusp of a new era in technology, enterprise IT stands on the brink of the most profound transformation since the Internet's inception. This seismic shift Read more…

Celebrating 35 Years of HPCwire by Recognizing 35 HPC Trailblazers

February 29, 2024

In 1988, a new IEEE conference debuted in Orlando, Florida. The planners were expecting 200-300 attendees because the conference was focused on an obscure t Read more…

Forrester’s State of AI Report Suggests a Wave of Disruption Is Coming

February 28, 2024

The explosive growth of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) heralds opportunity and disruption across industries. It is transforming how we interact with Read more…

Q-Roundup: Google on Optimizing Circuits; St. Jude Uses GenAI; Hunting Majorana; Global Movers

February 27, 2024

Last week, a Google-led team reported developing a new tool - AlphaTensor Quantum - based on deep reinforcement learning (DRL) to better optimize circuits. A we Read more…

South African Cluster Competition Team Enjoys Big Texas HPC Adventure

February 26, 2024

Texas A&M University's High-Performance Research Computing (HPRC) hosted an elite South African delegation on February 8 - undergraduate computer science (a Read more…

A Big Memory Nvidia GH200 Next to Your Desk: Closer Than You Think

February 22, 2024

Students of the microprocessor may recall that the original 8086/8088 processors did not have floating point units. The motherboard often had an extra socket fo Read more…

Apple Rolls out Post Quantum Security for iOS

February 21, 2024

Think implementing so-called Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC) isn't important because quantum computers able to decrypt current RSA codes don’t yet exist? Not Read more…

QED-C Issues New Quantum Benchmarking Paper

February 20, 2024

The Quantum Economic Development Consortium last week released a new paper on benchmarking – Quantum Algorithm Exploration using Application-Oriented Performa Read more…

Training of 1-Trillion Parameter Scientific AI Begins

November 13, 2023

A US national lab has started training a massive AI brain that could ultimately become the must-have computing resource for scientific researchers. Argonne N Read more…

Alibaba Shuts Down its Quantum Computing Effort

November 30, 2023

In case you missed it, China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba has shut down its quantum computing research effort. It’s not entirely clear what drove the change. Read more…

Nvidia Wins SC23, But Gets Socked by Microsoft’s AI Chip

November 16, 2023

Nvidia was invisible with a very small booth and limited floor presence, but thanks to its sheer AI dominance, it was a winner at the Supercomputing 2023. Nv Read more…

Nvidia H100: Are 550,000 GPUs Enough for This Year?

August 17, 2023

The GPU Squeeze continues to place a premium on Nvidia H100 GPUs. In a recent Financial Times article, Nvidia reports that it expects to ship 550,000 of its lat Read more…

Analyst Panel Says Take the Quantum Computing Plunge Now…

November 27, 2023

Should you start exploring quantum computing? Yes, said a panel of analysts convened at Tabor Communications HPC and AI on Wall Street conference earlier this y Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1675260034

RISC-V Summit: Ghosts of x86 and ARM Linger

November 12, 2023

Editor note: See SC23 RISC-V events at the end of the article At this year's RISC-V Summit, the unofficial motto was "drain the swamp," that is, x86 and Read more…

China Deploys Massive RISC-V Server in Commercial Cloud

November 8, 2023

If the U.S. government intends to curb China's adoption of emerging RISC-V architecture to develop homegrown chips, it may be getting late. Last month, China Read more…

DoD Takes a Long View of Quantum Computing

December 19, 2023

Given the large sums tied to expensive weapon systems – think $100-million-plus per F-35 fighter – it’s easy to forget the U.S. Department of Defense is a Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Shutterstock 1285747942

AMD’s Horsepower-packed MI300X GPU Beats Nvidia’s Upcoming H200

December 7, 2023

AMD and Nvidia are locked in an AI performance battle – much like the gaming GPU performance clash the companies have waged for decades. AMD has claimed it Read more…

Intel’s Server and PC Chip Development Will Blur After 2025

January 15, 2024

Intel's dealing with much more than chip rivals breathing down its neck; it is simultaneously integrating a bevy of new technologies such as chiplets, artificia Read more…

Chinese Company Developing 64-core RISC-V Chip with Tech from U.S.

November 13, 2023

Chinese chip maker SophGo is developing a RISC-V chip based on designs from the U.S. company SiFive, which highlights challenges the U.S. government may face in Read more…

Baidu Exits Quantum, Closely Following Alibaba’s Earlier Move

January 5, 2024

Reuters reported this week that Baidu, China’s giant e-commerce and services provider, is exiting the quantum computing development arena. Reuters reported � Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1182444949

Forget Zettascale, Trouble is Brewing in Scaling Exascale Supercomputers

November 14, 2023

In 2021, Intel famously declared its goal to get to zettascale supercomputing by 2027, or scaling today's Exascale computers by 1,000 times. Moving forward t Read more…

Synopsys Eats Ansys: Does HPC Get Indigestion?

February 8, 2024

Recently, it was announced that Synopsys is buying HPC tool developer Ansys. Started in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1970 as Swanson Analysis Systems, Inc. (SASI) by John Swanson (and eventually renamed), Ansys serves the CAE (Computer Aided Engineering)/multiphysics engineering simulation market. Read more…

Comparing NVIDIA A100 and NVIDIA L40S: Which GPU is Ideal for AI and Graphics-Intensive Workloads?

October 30, 2023

With long lead times for the NVIDIA H100 and A100 GPUs, many organizations are looking at the new NVIDIA L40S GPU, which it’s a new GPU optimized for AI and g Read more…

Shutterstock 1179408610

Google Addresses the Mysteries of Its Hypercomputer 

December 28, 2023

When Google launched its Hypercomputer earlier this month (December 2023), the first reaction was, "Say what?" It turns out that the Hypercomputer is Google's t Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire