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Helping write "CS for DARPA Directors"

Peter Harsha with a post at the excellent CRA Policy Blog that points to some creative thinking that CS smart guys Peter Lee and Randy Katz have been doing about the types of problems our next science leadership needs to understand

Their inspiration comes from a book written by Katz’s colleague, Richard Muller, called Physics for Future Presidents, which describes the “science behind the headlines — the tools of terrorists, the dangers of nuclear power, and the reality of global warming.” Katz and Lee want to know: “Shouldn’t there also be a computer science (or, more broadly, an IT) version of this book?”

Their answer: yes. Head over to Lee’s blog and take part in the conversation yourself, perhaps even tipping in for the HPC community. From Lee’s post

A simple way to start is to ask what would be in the table of contents? The table of contents of Physics for Future Presidents has parts on major societal challenges (Terrorism, Energy, Nukes, Space, Global Warming), with each part then containing several chapters (e.g., Calculating Global Warming). What would be the parts and chapters of a CS book for DARPA Directors? One idea offered by Bob Colwell is a chapter on “the death of voltage scaling”, which would analyze the consequences of the impending end of the voltage scaling roadmap in computer architecture design. Satya suggested a part (with multiple chapters) on Mobile Computing, which has become so intertwined with how our military fights.

Anyway, I hope you get the idea. Please help us. Some key people are ready to listen, but of course we would have to deliver something very, very soon if it is to have any chance for immediate impact.

I left the following comment, although my point of view may be more prosaic than the authors were hoping for:

An important topic would be numerical simulation and its handmaiden, supercomputing. Numerical simulation has become so ingrained in the practice of R&D in many fields that questions of accuracy and the inherent approximation of simulation can be forgotten (or never known by policy makers), particularly for problems where the research is only supported by simulation. Analysis of the gross characteristics of the major techniques of numerical modeling, and limitations (including accuracy and convergence), would be useful. Also useful would be an overview of the state of the practice in supercomputing, with some discussion of the effects that near- to mid-term innovations in hardware are likely to have on the scale of simulation possible in the plannable future, and how those innovations are changing the software development landscape for large scale scientific applications.

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