Computer and Information Science and Engineering

To support investigator-initiated research in all areas of computer science and engineering and related fields and contribute to the education and training of future generations of computing professionals, ensuring a supply of qualified technical personnel commensurate with national needs.

Examples of Funded Projects

(1) Cooperative Steady-Hand Augmentation of Human Skill in Micromanipulation Tasks: The primary focus of this research is on development of a cooperatively controlled 'steady hand' robot for microsurgery and other fine manipulation tasks, research exploring and extending the steady hand paradigm, and application of the system for prototypical microsurgical tasks in areas such as ophthalmology and otology.

Researchers at John Hopkins University have conceived of and begun prototyping a new class of highly dexterous robotic devices suitable for minimally-invasive microsurgical procedures in the throat and airways, as well as for other precise, multi-handed tasks in confined spaces.

The mechanical architecture of these robots consists of a snake-like unit and a modular detachable parallel unit that attaches at the tip of the snake-like unit.

The snake-like unit uses a novel design utilizing multiple continuous backbones for its actuation.

The parallel manipulation unit uses flexible links to accurately manipulate the payload in a small workspace and eliminates the need for small mechanical joints.

All these features support the down-size scalability of these designs to diameters smaller than 5 mm - a critical dimension beyond which standard designs of snake-like units and parallel robots for payload manipulation becomes extremely expensive and mechanically complicated.

These smaller diameters are needed for many surgical applications.

(2) ITR: Learning-Centered Design Methodology: Meeting the Nation's Need for Computational Tools for K-12 Science Education (Engineering Scaffolded Work Environments): The University of Michigan's Center for Highly-Interactive Computing in Education (HI-CE) has designed, classroom-tested, and has freely-distributed a suite of educational applications for handheld computers through ITR funding.

They have recorded over 100,000 downloads of this software over the past two years.

Of the 12 educational applications ranked by eSchool News, nine were produced under ITR funding at HI-CE.

In effect, HI-CE software enables educators to take handheld computers designed for business and repurpose them for use in K-12.

Under supplemental Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) funding, HI-CE investigators have worked with over a dozen K-12 teachers across the country to develop curricular materials that provide science and math teachers with concrete ways in which to use HI-CE's software on handheld computers.

The group has produced two International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) published books with two more books in press for 2004.

Moreover, HI-CE software is used in the curricular examples in many books published for K-12 about handheld computers.

From basic research to commercialization, with nationwide, free distribution in between, this effort has demonstrated how a University-based project can "fill the pipeline" with cutting-edge, provocative technology.

(3) Cardiovascular Informatics: Sudden heart attacks remain the leading cause of death in the US.

Since the majority of sudden cardiac deaths occur in people with no prior symptoms, there is an urgent need for computational tools to assist in screening for the conditions that underlie these cardiac events.

Researchers at the University of Houston are developing advanced computer vision technology for a variety of applications, including assisting with the diagnosis of coronary heart disease.

Patients who already present risk factors undergo an intravascular ultrasound procedure that is capable of analyzing in detail any plaques present in coronary blood vessels.

In particular, those plaques that are considered vulnerable (i.e., likely to rupture and cause a heart attack) have been found to encourage the growth of new microvessels in their vicinity.

These microvessels are small vessels and are generally difficult to detect.

However, using the contrast-enhanced intravascular ultrasound acquisition techniquedeveloped by researchers at the University of Houston, evidence of their presence can be detected.

(4) Recovery Oriented Computing: The time required to restart a system after failure continues to be a major concern for systems that must be continuously available.

Safety-critical systems are particularly affected by a lengthy interval for recovery and restart.

In an innovative NSF CAREER research project, Armando Fox, Assistant Professor, Stanford University, earned recognition as one of Scientific American magazine's 50 outstanding young scientists for 2003.


Fox has generalized a concept of "recovery through rebooting" to "micro-reboot" individual components of existing applications, significantly improving their availability with no application changes and no a priori knowledge of application structure.


Fox successfully demonstrated that a technique called "statistical-anomaly based failure detection" finds and localizes faults in these applications.

While traditional techniques typically leave systems in unpredictable states, this research pursues a new design philosophy called Crash-Only Software.

A crash-only system or component can be safely and predictably crashed at any time using mechanisms orthogonal to the component itself, allowing rebooting to be safely used as a recovery mechanism from many fault types.

The ultimate goal is self-managing systems technology for future reliable distributed systems.

(5) Data Mining for Detecting Network Intrusions: Novel data mining based anomaly detection techniques developed under NSF support have been incorporated in the Minnesota Intrusion Detection System (MINDS) that help cybersecurity analysts detect intrusions and other undesirable activity in real life networks.

MINDS is being used at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Center for Intrusion Monitoring and Protection (CIMP) and at the University of Minnesota to successfully detect novel intrusions, policy violations, and insider abuse that cannot be identified by widely used signature-based tools such as Snort.

MINDS allows cybersecurity experts to quickly analyze massive amounts of network traffic, as they only need to evaluate the most anomalous connections identified by the system.

Further summarization of these anomalous connections using association pattern analysis helps in understanding the nature of cyber attacks, as well as in creating new signatures for use in intrusion detection systems.

The underlying techniques have applicability in many areas beyond cybersecurity, such as financial and health care fraud detection.

6) New System Up and Running: Nearly half of PSC's brand new XT3 "Red Storm" system, more than 1,000 processors mustering roughly five teraflops of capability, was installed and humming in PSC's machine room in time to bring in 2005.

This is the first installed system of the Cray, Inc.

XT3 product line, which Cray announced in October 2004.

The XT3 architecture is based on the "Red Storm" system developed at the Sandia National Laboratories.

The PSC system will soon provide 10 teraflops of capability for NSF science and engineering research and education.

Applications already running on the new system include storm forecasting, earthquake modeling, quantum chromodynamics, cosmology and numerical relativity.

A quantum materials science application, LSMS, shows per-processor performance on the XT3 more than twice that of LeMieux, PSC's existing terascale computer system.

Other application areas expected to benefit significantly from the PSC XT3 system include molecular dynamics modeling of complex biological systems, modeling of cellular microphysiology, fluid dynamics and turbulence, blood flow, climate modeling, and network simulation and modeling.

Agency - National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation is an independent Federal agency created to promote the progress of science, to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare and to secure the national defense. The NSF annually funds approximately 20 percent of basic, Federally-supported college and university research.

Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories

Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2007, 5,745 proposals were received and 1,633 awards were made. In fiscal year 2008, we estimate approximately 7,400 proposals will be received and approximately 1,635 awards will be made.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Funds may be used to pay costs of conducting research, and obtaining access to advanced computing and networking capabilities, salaries and wages, equipment and supplies, travel, publication costs, other direct costs, and indirect costs.

Funds may not be used for purposes other than those specified in the proposal.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Public and private colleges and universities; Non-profit, non-academic organizations; For-profit organizations; State and Local Governments; and unaffiliated scientists under special circumstances.

See the Grant Proposal Guide for a full description of eligibility requirements.

Beneficiary Eligibility

See the Grant Proposal Guide, Section I.E. for a full description of eligibility requirements.


The proposal must be signed electronically by an official authorized to commit the institution or organization in business and financial affairs and who can commit the organization to certain proposal certifications. Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular Nos. A-21 for educational institutions and A-122 for nonprofit organizations. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

None required, except in specific cases, but preliminary discussions with relevant National Science Foundation program officers, by email, telephone or mail, are encouraged.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Proposals must be submitted electronically via FastLane to the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate and should follow the general instructions and guidelines in the "Grant Proposal Guide." All proposals are acknowledged. This program is subject to the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-110 for nonprofit organizations. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102.

Award Procedures

NSF staff members review and evaluate all proposals, with the advice and assistance: of scientists and engineers who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal, of prospective users of research results when appropriate, and of specialists in other Federal agencies.


Many NSF programs accept proposals at any time. Other programs, however, establish due dates for submission of proposals. NSF utilizes Target Dates, Deadline Dates, and Submission Windows. Consult the Grant Proposal Guide, Section I.F. for a further description of these types of due dates. The Directorate website lists funding opportunities at:


National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, Public Law 107-368, 42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Approximately 6 months or less, except in special instances.


The Principal Investigator may request, in writing, that the National Science Foundation reconsider its action in declining any proposal application, renewal application, or continuing application.


Proposals for renewal of NSF grants compete with all other pending proposals.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

The Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) (Chapter II) and the Grant Policy Manual (Sec. 330) provide information on the general NSF policy on cost-sharing.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Normally 6 months to 3 years; occasionally longer.

Post Assistance Requirements


For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must submit an annual project report to the cognizant program officer at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period.

Within 90 days after the expiration of a grant, the PI is required to submit a final project report.

Quarterly Federal Cash Transaction Reports are required.

Other reporting requirements may be imposed via the grant instrument.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


Grantees are expected to maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for the general purpose for which each grant was made. Records are subject to inspection during the life of the grant and for 3 years thereafter.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $526,680,000; FY 08 est $534,530,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$2,000 to $19,000,000; $136,000.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

48 CFR Chapter 25: 45 CFR Chapter VI; "NSF Guide to Programs, fiscal year 2004," NSF 04-009 (; and "Grant Proposal Guide," (

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Not applicable.

Headquarters Office

Assistant Director, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22230. Telephone: (703) 292-8900. NSF World Wide Web site URL:

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The National Science Board approved revised criteria for evaluating proposals at its meeting on March 28, 1997 (NSB 97-72). All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities. On July 8, 2002, the NSF Director issued Important Notice 127, Implementation of new Grant Proposal Guide Requirements Related to the Broader Impacts Criterion. This Important Notice reinforces the importance of addressing both criteria in the preparation and review of all proposals submitted to NSF. NSF continues to strengthen its internal processes to ensure that both of the merit review criteria are addressed when making funding decisions. In an effort to increase compliance with these requirements, the January 2002 issuance of the GPG incorporated revised proposal preparation guidelines relating to the development of the Project Summary and Project Description. Chapter II of the GPG specifies that Principal Investigators (PIs) must address both merit review criteria in separate statements within the one-page Project Summary. This chapter also reiterates that broader impacts resulting from the proposed project must be addressed in the Project Description and described as an integral part of the narrative. Effective October 1, 2002, NSF will return without review proposals that do not separately address both merit review criteria within the Project Summary. It is believed that these changes to NSF proposal preparation and processing guidelines will more clearly articulate the importance of broader impacts to NSF-funded projects. The two National Science Board approved merit review criteria are listed below (see the Grant Proposal Guide Chapter III.A for further information). The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which he/she is qualified to make judgments. What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources? What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society NSF staff will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions: Integration of Research and Education. One of the principal strategies in support of NSF's goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discoveryandenrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives. Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities. Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

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