US Government boosts technology research

The US Government awarded $110m (£75m) in grants last week to develop ideas that may ultimately help IT organisations.

The US Government awarded $110m (£75m) in grants last week to develop ideas that may ultimately help IT organisations.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a US federal agency that funds basic scientific research. The Bush administration has made technology research a priority, and has increased the foundation's budget for IT research projects

"Our objective is to support the development of software and IT services that will help scientists and engineers make the kinds of discoveries that will eventually be applied by industry," said Rita Colwell, director of the NSF.

One project, which received £3.85m (£2.61m) from the NSF, is intended to reduce the typical 10- to 30-year span before new algorithms find their way into applications. According to Guy Blelloch, computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University and the project's leader, businesses use algorithms extensively in optimisation such as developing efficient scheduling of airline flights and trucking routes.

"The smarter the algorithm, the better you can get the schedules," said Blelloch.

However, according to Blelloch, there is a disconnection between application developers and algorithm researchers. A large part of the grant is aimed at getting researchers and application developers to work together.

One of the larger awards, worth approximately $7.5m (£5.1m), will fund an ongoing project at the University of California. The project will design a computerised traffic management network that could use sensors to optimise road traffic flow and provide real-time information on the conditions of roads, bridges and buildings after an earthquake.

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