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May 10, 2005

The Future of the US Computer Science Research

Computer Science has this strange symbiosis with the computer industry: without the computer industry there would be no computer science and without computer science there would be no computer industry. Computer Science research has been the breeding ground for many multi-billion dollar corporation and many of these research projects were funded through US government programs, mainly through DOD.

Computer Science Research funding is dropping to a level that puts the field into crisis, and many believe that it will have a significant long term negative impact on the competitiveness of the US computer industry.

Ed Lazowsky and Dave Patterson, both members of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee, are sounding the alarm bell in a very clearly written editorial in this month’s Science:

Where will the next generation of groundbreaking innovations in IT arise? Where will the Turing Awardees 30 years hence reside? Given current trends, the answers to both questions will likely be, “not in the United States.”

This is required reading for anyone who has a stake in the future of the US computer industry.

Posted by Werner Vogels at May 10, 2005 07:20 PM
TrackBacks

The Future of the US Computer Science Research
Excerpt: Werner Vogels points to a quite alarming view on the future of CS in the United States. It's short and very informative description of the current state of CS research federal funding. Where will the next generation of groundbreaking innovations in IT ...
Weblog: Radovan Janecek: Nothing Impersonal
Tracked: May 11, 2005 03:58 AM
Comments

It seems to be true that the research funding is dropping in the area of Computer Science.
But I think it might not cause an impact on the US as well as in other places.
Funding seems to be drifting to some other places, like Nanotechnology and Biotechnology.
http://clinton4.nara.gov/WH/New/html/20000121_4.html
http://www.dallasfed.org/research/pubs/science/lawlor.pdf

However, the total amount of research seems to be growing, and I think that the big tendencies will keep continuing over long run.

I have a BS in Computer Science, and I would love to see more money in the Computer Science area as well as the Computer Industry. But I think that CS and the Computer industry are the base for many discoveries and innovations that will come in Biotechnology and other areas. Because of that, it has to be widely available and, as much as possible, inexpensive.

These funds might be going to these places because people feel like they will be willing to pay more for those areas than for IT. How much is a father willing to pay to pay his son's treatment?
Additionally, we are reaching a "saturation point"
http://www.tcf.net/grove.html
In the late years, the additional advantage to end user on each technology upgrade (paid with research money) is not that much different compared to the previous technology. The consumer might begin to wonder "why pay more for something that does not bring an additional benefit to me?"

Additionally, some IT research is going to low-wage countries, so it might mean --I cannot take a stance here-- that the needed amount for research is dropping and will continue to drop.

Computer Science is very interesting, and it has achieved great things. But one must ask "what can I make for improving the life of the common/average human being?"

Posted by: Ric on May 17, 2005 02:32 AM