Sunday, October 01, 2006

The New CCC

Not the Conference on Computational Complexity but the Computing Community Consortium, a new organization funded by the NSF and organized by the Computing Research Association. The CCC will develop major research opportunities and "grand challenges" enlisting community involvement in creating new research visions and activities.

The original NSF solicitation focused on large-scale infrastructure but a CCC white paper, while purposely vague, seems to take a broader view.

Compelling visions take many forms. History has amply demonstrated the importance of entrepreneurial, grassroots efforts as creative engines in computing research. History has also demonstrated the value of large teams, large facilities, and large amounts of funding. Many see an increasing need for shared research facilities and teams in our field to allow us to tackle certain "grand challenge" problems. Planning for large-scale research should not, and need not, harm smaller-scale efforts or place them at a disadvantage.

The challenge for the Computing Community Consortium is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to articulate those research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with funding organizations to move the challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The CCC will do this without harming the research environment that has created the computing world of today.

The NSF has awarded six million dollars over three years to the project, a rather large sum for an organization that won't actually do any research. Given this commitment, the CCC will play a major role in shaping CS research for several years. We should all work to help the CCC truly reach its potential of developing new funded programs across the full spectrum of computer science research.

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