Friday, March 30, 2012

Thrilling New Big Data R&D Initiative from NSF-NIH

Yesterday was an exciting day for big data with the U.S. federal government announcing a major new research initiative on big data at a level of funding of $200 million.

Even The New York Times yesterday featured an article on the joint program between the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to the article: Big data refers to the rising flood of digital data from many sources, including the Web, biological and industrial sensors, video, e-mail and social network communications. The emerging opportunity arises from combining these diverse data sources with improving computing tools to pinpoint profit-making opportunities, make scientific discoveries and predict crime waves, for example.

There was a great quote in the article by Dr. Farman Jahanian of the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate: "Data, in my view, is a transformative new currency for science, engineering, education, commerce and government." “Foundational research in data management and data analytics promise breakthrough discoveries and innovations across all disciplines.”

Just a few minutes before logging off for the night, to settle down and read The Times, I received the following email from Dr. Jahanian announcing the great news:

Dear Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Community,

This afternoon at a White House event, the Administration unveiled a Big Data Research and Development Initiative, which creates enormous opportunities for extracting knowledge and insights from large and complex collections of digital data. The CISE community is well poised to become an active participant in this new initiative.

NSF Director, Dr. Subra Suresh, joined other federal science agency leaders to discuss cross-agency plans and announce new research efforts to address big data. NSF will direct its current efforts to develop new methods to derive knowledge from data; construct new infrastructure to manage, curate and serve data to communities; and forge new approaches for associated education and training.

The cornerstone of the announcements includes a joint NSF-NIH solicitation on foundational research for big data. The "Core Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data Science & Engineering," or "Big Data" (>) program aims to advance the core scientific and technological means of managing, analyzing, visualizing and extracting information from large, diverse, distributed, and heterogeneous data sets in order to accelerate progress in science and engineering research. Specifically, it will fund research to develop and evaluate new algorithms, technologies, and tools for improved data management, data analytics, and e-science collaboration environments.

Other announcements included anticipated cross-disciplinary efforts such as an Ideas Lab to explore ways to use big data to enhance teaching and learning effectiveness, and the use of NSF’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship, or IGERT, mechanism to educate and train researchers in data enabled science and engineering.

For more information, please see the NSF press release ( We look forward to your participation.



Farnam Jahanian
Assistant Director for CISE
National Science Foundation