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Information Technology Frontiers for a New Millenium
Executive Summary
The Information Technology for the Twenty-first Century (IT2) initiative
The HPCC R&D programs
HECC:  High End Computing and Computation
LSN:  Large Scale Networking
   Next Generation Internet
   SC 98 demonstrations
HCS:  High Confidence Systems
HuCS:  Human Centered Systems
ETHR:  Education, Training, and Human Resources
FISAC:  Federal Information Services and Applications Council
President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC)
HPCC R&D budget and coordination
Proposed IT2 Initiative Budget
NCO/CIC:  National Coordination Office for Computing, Information,
and Communications (NCO)
Purpose of this report
Information now on the Web


As we near the dawn of a new millennium, advances made possible by computing, information, and communications research and development (R&D) -- once barely noticeable to the general public -- are reaching dramatically past the scientists, engineers, and educators who fostered them, forever transforming every aspect of our work and our lives in ways that are exciting but unpredictable. Seemingly overnight, the Industrial Age has become the Information Age, and a shining future beckons on the horizon, a future where neither distance, disability, nor economic difficulties will be barriers to a brighter tomorrow. All citizens, wherever they may live or work, will have equal access to the developing knowledge and learning tools that will assure U.S. competitiveness and economic well-being far into the next century.
Much of this promising future is a direct result of decades of investments in information technology research by the Federal government, working cooperatively with academia and the private sector. The high performance computing technologies so vital in bringing the Cold War to a successful conclusion are now transforming our social and economic lives through a vast network of computers and servers that conduct much of our business and manage the Internet, providing us with unprecedented and inexpensive access to critical information. Indeed, the Internet itself grew out of the military's need to move information among different computing systems. Private sector demand for these technologies grew at an unexpectedly rapid pace when Web browsers, initially developed with Federal funding, took the world by storm in 1994.
Federally-supported long term, fundamental research in high performance computing and communications has been a critical driving force behind today's impressive economic and social transformations. But in recent years, Federal investments in vital high performance computing and communications research have not kept pace with the rapid development of computing, information, and communications technologies. To assure the continued health, prosperity, and economic competitiveness of future generations, the Federal government must again take the lead in this area, significantly increasing its investments in the same type of R&D that catapulted the U.S. into the leadership of the Information Age.

The Information
Technology for the
Twenty-first Century
(IT2) initiative

A highlight of the President's FY 2000 R&D budget is the proposed Information Technology for the Twenty-first Century (IT2) initiative. This research initiative proposes $366 million in increased investments to help advance the knowledge base in fundamental information science and to train the next generation of researchers who will sustain the Information Revolution well into the 21st Century. Building on the Government's previous accomplishments and existing investments in High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC), including the Next Generation Internet (NGI), and the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI), the initiative will extend some existing research and provide opportunities to address new, complementary research topics in three key areas:

  • Long term information technology research that will lead to fundamental advances in computing and communications

  • Advanced computing infrastructure as a tool to facilitate scientific and engineering discoveries of national interest

  • Research on the economic and social implications of the Information Revolution, and efforts to help train additional IT workers at our universities
The IT2 research agenda responds directly to the findings and recommendations of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), which concluded in a report released in February 1999 that the Federal Government is underinvesting in long term IT research relative to its importance to the Nation. The initiative is garnering widespread support from industry and academia. If approved by Congress, the coordination and implementation of the IT2 initiative will be integrated with the HPCC R&D programs.


The Federal government coordinates multiagency research in computing and communications through the HPCC R&D programs (formerly known as the Computing, Information, and Communications [CIC] R&D programs). HPCC-coordinated activities are organized into five Program Component Areas (PCAs):

  • HECC:  High End Computing and Computation
  • LSN:  Large Scale Networking, including the Next Generation Internet
  • HCS:  High Confidence Systems
  • HuCS:  Human Centered Systems
  • ETHR:  Education, Training, and Human Resources
plus the Federal Information Services and Applications Council (FISAC).

High End Computing
and Computation

HECC R&D provides the foundation for U.S. leadership in high end computing, promoting its use in government, academia, and industry. HECC researchers are developing computation-intensive algorithms and software for modeling and simulating complex physical, chemical, and biological systems; information-intensive science and engineering applications; and advanced concepts in quantum, biological, and optical computing.
The HECC Working Group (HECCWG) coordinates Federal R&D dedicated to maintaining and expanding U.S. leadership in high performance computing and computation, which includes algorithms, architecture, components, software, and high end mission applications. The HECCWG also promotes cooperation in high end computing and computation R&D among Government laboratories, academia, and industry.

Large Scale

LSN R&D provides the leadership in networking technologies, services, and performance to meet Federal agency mission needs and to develop technologies that enable the future growth of the Internet. Key LSN R&D areas include technologies for highly capable very high speed networks and applications that require such technologies.
LSN activities are coordinated by a Working Group and four Teams, each of which includes non-Federal participants:

  • The Joint Engineering Team (JET) coordinates connectivity among the Federal agency networks (FedNets) -- DOE's Energy Sciences network (ESnet), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) Research and Education Network (NREN), the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) very high performance Backbone Network Services (vBNS), and the Department of Defense's (DoD's) Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN) -- with the Abilene network (a university/industry partnership), with international networks at the Chicago-based Science, Technology, and Research Transit Access Point (STAR TAP), and with geographically disadvantaged states such as Alaska and Hawaii.

  • The Networking Research Team (NRT) coordinates agency networking research programs, shares networking research information among Federal agencies, and supports NGI networking R&D activities. It provides outreach to end users to promote dissemination of networking research information and to promote coordination among end users and applications developers.

  • The High Performance Networking Applications Team (HPNAT) coordinates Federal R&D in high performance networking applications in science and engineering, weather and the environment, biomedicine, and healthcare.

  • The Internet Security Team (IST) facilitates testing and experimentation with emerging advanced security technologies and serves as a focal point and clearinghouse for application and engineering requirements for security systems.

Next Generation

The 1991 High Performance Computing Act was amended with bipartisan support in FY 1998 by the Next Generation Internet Research Act, which authorizes the NGI Initiative. The NGI Initiative -- coordinated under the LSN Working Group -- is:

  • Conducting R&D and experimentation in networking technologies in order to add functionality and improve performance. This includes hybrid networks (including satellites and terrestrial components), Internet security, Internet protocol (IP) over wave division multiplexing (WDM), mobile networks, multicast, network management and modeling (for reliability and robustness), optical add-drop multiplexers, quality of service (QoS), and test and evaluation.

  • Developing two testbeds for system-scale testing and for developing and demonstrating advanced applications. The 100x testbed includes the FedNets and connects about 130 universities and Federal facilities with end-to-end performance that will be 100 times faster than the Internet of 1997; 25 more connections are expected in FY 2000. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) SuperNet, the 1,000x testbed, connects about 20 sites nationwide at speeds that will be 1,000 times faster than 1997's Internet.

  • Developing and demonstrating revolutionary applications -- in basic science, crisis management, education, the environment, Federal information systems, healthcare, and manufacturing -- and their enabling technologies -- collaboration technologies, digital libraries, distributed computing, privacy and security, and remote operation and simulation.

SC 98

More than a dozen NGI and NGI-related applications were demonstrated at several research exhibits at the SC98 supercomputing conference held in Orlando, Florida, including:

  • Realtime functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI): Watching the brain in action
  • Distributed Image Spreadsheet: Earth data from satellite to desktop
  • Remote access multidisciplinary microscopy (RAMM): Viewing the changing threads of life with 4-D telemicroscopy
  • Broadcast news navigator
  • Collaborative remote robotic arc welding
  • Exploring the Earth system on the "second Web"
  • GeoWorlds: Integrated digital libraries and geographic information systems for disaster relief operations
  • Testing and measuring Internet security technologies
  • Testing and measuring Internet Protocol (IP) QoS.
  • iGrid: Managing and measuring geographically distributed networking, computing, storage, and display resources accessible from the STAR TAP

High Confidence

HCS R&D is developing technologies for achieving predictably high levels of computing and communications system availability, reliability, safety, security, and survivability. Such systems must withstand internal and external threats and natural disasters. These technologies are needed as we increasingly rely on our information infrastructure to support our financial, healthcare, manufacturing, power (electricity, natural gas, nuclear power), and transportation infrastructures.
HCS activities include National Security Agency (NSA) work in active network defense, secure network management, network security engineering, cryptography, and secure communications; DARPA work in information survivability; NSF's computing-communications research; the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)-NSA National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP); and National Institutes of Health (NIH) research in protecting patient records and in collaborative technologies for telemedicine.
The HCS Working Group is preparing an agenda for new research in theoretical foundations, tools and techniques, engineering and experimentation, and pilots and demonstrations, which has contributed to the IT2 initiative.

Human Centered

HuCS R&D focuses on improving the interactions among humans, computing systems, and information resources. Federal investments in HuCS R&D benefit scientists, physicians, engineers, educators, students, the workforce, and the general public in dozens of disciplines, including biomedicine, defense, manufacturing, education, library sciences, law enforcement, weather forecasting, and crisis response. Areas of HuCS research are:

  • Knowledge repositories and information agents, including the multiagency Digital Libraries Initiative Phase Two; the National Library of Medicine's (NLM's) Visible Human and Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) projects; and DARPA's Text, Radio, Video, and Speech program supporting information extraction for battlefield awareness

  • Multimodal human-computer interfaces, including NSF's Speech, Text, Image, and MULtimedia Advanced Technology Effort (STIMULATE) and other speech recognition technologies developed by NIST, DARPA, and NSA

  • Multilingual technologies, including Spanish language interfaces developed by NSF, DARPA, and other U.S. and international organizations

  • Universal access, including the Web Accessibility Initiative to assure Internet accessibility to all people, sponsored by NSF, the Department of Education (ED), several U.S. corporations, and the European Commission; and ED's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research

  • Visualization, virtual reality, and robotic tools, including "Virtual Los Angeles," NSF's realtime visualization system for large scale urban environments, NSF's robotic surgery, NASA's "software scalpel" and computerized breast cancer diagnostic tools, and NOAA's Virtual Worlds

  • Collaboratories, including DOE's Materials Microcharacterization Collaboratory (MMC) and NIST's Systems Integration for Manufacturing Applications

Education, Training,
and Human Resources

ETHR R&D supports education and training in computing, communications, and information technologies from K-12 through postgraduate training and lifelong learning. ETHR facilitates the development of software learning tools, modeling of education and learning, research on cognitive processes, and demonstrations of innovative technologies and applications. Activities include NSF's studies of learning and intelligence in systems, DOE's Computational Science Graduate Fellowships, NIH/NLM's biomedical informatics training grants, and NASA's Learning Technologies Project for using its vast data collections.

FISAC:  Federal
Information Services
and Applications

The FISAC helps apply HPCC technologies to Federal information systems and services to support agency missions by providing two-way communications channels with agencies that are either wholly or in part outside of the HPCC budget crosscut. The HPCC R&D programs use FISAC to disseminate information about their research agendas, priorities, and results, while the FISAC provides feedback and identifies research needed by Federal applications. FISAC works primarily through its FedStats, Information Technologies for Crises Management, NGI Applications, and Universal Access Teams, and its liaison with NSF's Digital Government program and the Federal Web Consortium. Crises management and Federal statistics research agendas are being developed through NSF-sponsored workshops held by the National Research Council's Computer Science and Telecommunications Board. The FedStats Web site (, a gateway to the 70-plus Federal agencies that compile and disseminate Federal statistics, is funded by the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy chaired by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Universal Access Team has merged with the General Services Administration's (GSA's) Accessible Technology working group.

President's Information
Technology Advisory
Committee (PITAC)

The PITAC was established by Executive Order in February 1997, as authorized by the HPC Act of 1991. Renewed for a second two year term in February 1999, the Committee is comprised of 26 academic and industry leaders who are charged to provide the President with an independent assessment of the Federal government's role in HPCC, information technology, and Next Generation Internet R&D. The PITAC released its Report to the President in February 1999. It recommended creating a strategic research initiative in software, scalable information infrastructure, high end computing, and the socioeconomic impact of IT. The report also addressed management and modes of funding for Federal IT research. The PITAC's recommendations are the primary driver of efforts to enhance the Federal IT research portfolio, primarily through the IT2 initiative, which will help to refocus and strengthen existing Federal investments in the HPCC R&D programs, including the NGI initiative.

HPCC R&D budget
and coordination

The proposed FY 2000 multiagency HPCC R&D budget is $1,462 million, representing an 11 percent increase over the estimated $1,314 million in FY 1999. The HPCC R&D programs are coordinated by the Subcommittee on CIC R&D. This Subcommittee reports to the Committee on Technology of the President's National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The Subcommittee works through its five PCA Working Groups and their Teams.

National Coordination
Office for Computing,
Information, and

The NCO is charged by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to ensure coordination of multiagency Federal information technology R&D by supporting the Subcommittee on CIC R&D, the PITAC, and activities related to the development of the IT2 initiative. It facilitates the preparation of multiagency planning, budget, and assessment documents. The NCO Director, who reports to the Director of OSTP, chairs the Subcommittee on CIC R&D.
The NCO provides a central point of contact about HPCC and PITAC activities for the Congress; Federal, state, and local organizations; academia; industry; professional societies; foreign organizations; and others to exchange technical and programmatic information.
Each year the NCO responds to thousands of information requests with Web, print, and video material that includes Congressional testimony; HPCC, NGI, and NCO publications; and PITAC publications and meeting material.

Purpose of this report

This report highlights ongoing and proposed HPCC efforts, focusing on representative FY 1999 accomplishments, key FY 2000 R&D areas, and the budget crosscut.

Information now on
the Web

Copies of HPCC, NGI, CIC, PITAC, and IT2 publications, links to participating agency and related Web sites, and this report can be found at: and