About the Author

OSTP Research Priorities

By Jim Crowley

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is the agency headed by the U.S. President’s science advisor. Among its duties is to lead interagency efforts to develop and implement sound science and technology policies and budgets. One way it does this is by issuing budget guidance to science agencies as they form their budgets, offering a set of Administration priorities for those agencies.

The 18 July 2014 budget memorandum from current director John Holdren contained seven R&D priorities – one of special note to the SIAM community. The seven were:

  • Advanced manufacturing and industries of the future
  • Clean energy
  • Earth observations
  • Global climate change
  • National and homeland security
  • Innovation in life sciences, biology, and neuroscience
  • Information technology and high-performance computing.

While the SIAM community can contribute to nearly all of thesethe item on national and homeland security specifically mentions hypersonics, for exampleit is the item on IT and HPC that most directly relates to the research of many SIAM members.

The item on information technology and high-performance computing requests agencies to give priority to investments that “address the challenges and opportunities afforded by the expansion of big data to advance agency missions and further scientific discovery and innovation while providing appropriate privacy protections for personal data.” So data science and the related research topics fall under this rubric.

It also asks agencies to “coordinate with each other and with the private sector to promote innovation in high performance computing to support national security, scientific discovery, and economic competitiveness.” Such innovation involves new and improved computing methods and algorithms and, I would argue, new mathematical models in a multitude of application areas.

Given this direction from OSTP, one should expect future budget requests from the agencies to reflect, at least in part, these priorities. Agencies would propose budgets that, if approved by Congress, would lead to new or enhanced programs to address these priorities.

SIAM members support high performance computing and its application to problems in science, engineering, and industry, through the development of novel methods and algorithms to solve large-scale computing problems. This is often done in the context of application area and often pushes the envelope on algorithms for emerging architectures. This is the essence of computational science and engineering (CS&E).

The 2015 SIAM Conference on CS&E, to be held March 14-18 in Salt Lake City, promises to be the biggest ever, with over 274 minisymposium submissions to date. This is a strong indicator of role that science computing now plays in scientific discovery and in engineering applications today.

  Jim Crowley is the executive director of SIAM.