Public Release: 

UC San Diego researchers receive $14 million from NSF for 10 new information technology projects

University of California - San Diego

San Diego, Sept. 17, 2003 -- Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) will receive more than $14.3 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for ten new projects in the information-technology arena. Twenty-one faculty members and researchers will investigate topics ranging from how to make cryptography easier to use, to the development of better computer simulations of cell physiology.

Today the NSF announced eight large awards from its Information Technology Research (ITR) program, with UCSD participating in three of the projects. Large ITR projects focus on long-term innovations through coordinated research and education efforts at the intersection of computer science and other science and engineering fields. Researchers from the Jacobs School of Engineering, San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology [Cal-(IT)²] will lead UCSD involvement in the largest projects. (All dollar figures at the end of project description represent funding to UCSD entities.)

Large ITRs

  • Constructing a "Family Tree" for Life on Earth. PI: SDSC director Francine Berman. Co-PI: Philip Bourne (SDSC, School of Medicine/Pharmacology). This project is part of a wider $11.6 million collaborative ITR led by University of New Mexico professor Bernard Moret, and involves ten other universities and the American Museum of Natural History. This project will develop new analytical techniques and harness the power of many supercomputers around the world to map the evolutionary relationships among all species of living organisms. $4.1 million 2003-08
  • Responding to the Unexpected. PI: Cal-(IT)² UCSD division director Ramesh Rao. Co-PIs: Bhaskar Rao, Mohan Trivedi (Electrical and Computer Engineering). This project is part of an overall $12.5 million collaborative ITR among five universities, led by UC Irvine professor Sharad Mehrotra. The goals of this project are to create robust information systems that enable first responders and decision-makers to make well-informed and better decisions, to prioritize their response, and to focus on activities that have the highest potential to save lives and property. Such information systems must provide access to the right information by the right individuals and organizations at the right time. $3.5 million 2003-08
  • Simplifying the Development of Grid Applications. Senior Personnel: Francine Berman (SDSC), Henri Casanova (SDSC) and Andrew Chien (Computer Science and Engineering). The researchers from UCSD and six other universities will work on this overall $8.2 million project led by Ken Kennedy of Rice University. This project will create software tools to simplify and accelerate the development of grid applications and services. It will also look at novel scheduling techniques based on abstract "virtual grids" to deliver high efficiency on grids of real machines. $1.7 million 2003-2008
Apart from the large ITRs announced today, the NSF is also funding a wide range of smaller projects -- bringing total ITR funding this year to $169 million. In addition to the eight large projects, more than 175 mid-sized projects have been awarded up to $4 million for three to five years, and 180 smaller projects will each receive up to $500,000 for up to three years. The projects were selected from a landslide of more than 2,500 merit-reviewed proposals from the academic community. UCSD researchers are PIs or co-PIs on seven newly-funded projects:

Medium ITRs

  • Real-Time Data Aware System for Earth, Oceanographic, and Environmental Applications. PI: John Orcutt (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) Co-PIs: Frank Vernon (SIO), Arcot Rajasekar (SDSC), and Bertram Ludaescher (SDSC). This project will focus on dynamically adapting downstream processing and modeling as multi-disciplinary sensors are added to or removed from a real-time data network. The research will also include work on methods to detect automatically the occurrence of interesting phenomena in real-time data streams and to trigger responses such as data analysis, modeling computations or turning on or off parts of the sensor network. The project will also investigate how to extend data grid ideas to include real-time data streams, permit feedback between observations and the operation of the observing network,and integrate knowledge about the event and location from peer-reviewed, on-line journals. $2,344,407 2003-05
  • Asynchronous Execution for Scalable Simulation of Cell Physiology. PI: Scott Baden (CSE). This project will develop novel programming methodology and a run-time library for large-scale biological simulations. More generally, it is expected to yield new knowledge about software techniques in support of scheduling and latency-tolerant formulation. $550,000 2003-06
  • Optical Control in Semiconductors for Spintronics and Quantum Information Processing. PI: Lu Sham (Physics) This ITR program is focused on fundamental studies of control of quantum electron dynamics, and the development of 'designer' electronic processes for applications in the emerging fields of spin-based electronics and quantum information processing. New courses on nanotechnology and quantum information science will also be developed at UCSD and the two other institutions that are part of this collaborative ITR -- Rice University, and the University of Florida. $525,000 2003-08
  • Small ITRs

  • Materials for InAs MOSFETs: The Enabling Transistor for Low Power, 100 GHz+ Information Transfer and Processing. PI: Andrew Kummel (Chemistry-Biochemistry) This project addresses atomic and electronic structures formed by a series of vapor deposited oxides onto antimony-based semiconductor alloys (InAs, GaSb, AlSb, and their alloys). The aim is to achieve understanding of basic mechanisms of Fermi level unpinning of oxide-ternary semiconductor interfaces. $499,859 2003-06
  • Universal Compression of Infinite Alphabets with Applications to Language Modeling. PI: Alon Orlitsky (ECE). This project builds on a new approach to the compression of strings over large alphabets. Orlitsky has already shown that patterns of strings drawn according to independent and identically distributed random variables can be compressed as if the distribution were known in advance. Now, he will investigate sequential compression algorithms that compress the sequence one symbol at a time, practical algorithms that can be performed using few operations per symbol, and extensions of these results to distributions with memory; such distributions model several practical applications. $428,000 2003-07
  • Querying Sequentially Accessed XML Data. PI: Yannis Papakonstantinou (CSE) Co-PI's: Alin Deutsch, Victor Vianu (CSE) and Bertram Ludaescher (SDSC). High-volume data streams exchanged in XML form are becoming crucial to a wide range of applications in the scientific, government and business domains. This project will develop a comprehensive approach to querying data streams in XML form, covering the spectrum from formal foundations all the way to systems. The expected outcome of the project will be a qualitatively new architecture, technology and query processor for XML data streams, with impact on a wide range of applications. The approach will be tested on seismic data provided by the UCSD-based ROADNet project, but the research is expected to have a broad impact on voluminous XML data streams. $375,000 2003-06
  • Cryptography: from user needs to protocol design. PI: Daniele Micciancio (CSE). Co-PI: Russell Impagliazzo (CSE). This project investigates approaches to making cryptography easier to use at three levels: easier for the protocol designer, for the software applications, and the policy maker. In doing so, researchers aim to facilitate increased and better informed use of cryptography. $300,000 2003-05
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    To view NSF press release about 2003 ITR awards, go to

    Media Contacts:

    Jacobs School of Engineering: Doug Ramsey (858) 822-5825
    San Diego Supercomputer Center: Greg Lund (858) 534-8314
    Chemistry-Biochemistry/Physics: Kim McDonald (858) 534-7572
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography: Cindy Clark (858) 534-1294

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