National Science Foundation Awards Knowledge And Distributed Intelligence Grants

September 29, 1998

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is awarding a series of 40 new grants worth more than $51.5 million in cross-cutting research through its agency-wide Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI) initiative. Nearly 50 institutions will be part of this very broad scientific enterprise that could lead to rapid and radical interdisciplinary advances in: Knowledge Networking (KN) (e.g., employing a distributed cognition approach to designing digital work materials for collaborative workplaces); Learning and Intelligent Systems (LIS) (e.g., designing intelligent software agents to control and optimize resource allocation in large-scale computer networks); and New Computational Challenges (NCC) (e.g., modeling defects in solid materials at multiple levels).

"NSF's cultivation of this highly multidisciplinary research arena," said NSF Director Rita Colwell, "will change the way scientists collaborate and the way they prepare to examine the world as they seek new frontiers for discovery."

The explosive growth in computer power and connectivity is reshaping relationships among people and organizations while also transforming the processes of discovery, learning and communication. Similar growth in scientific understanding of learning and intelligence in natural systems and artificial systems is contributing to unprecedented research opportunities in these areas.

"This investment will be making our high-speed, high-volume information systems more human-centered, more 'intelligent'_a place where people and machines collaborate beyond their physical presence," said Joseph Bordogna, NSF's acting deputy director. "We are entering an era in which insight into complex problems will be more readily garnered." This is an age of global intellectual and commercial environments "in which knowledge will be available to anyone, located anywhere, at any time." KDI will help keep the "information age" from becoming the "information overload age," said Bordogna.

Through KDI, NSF aims to achieve the next generation of human capability to generate, model and represent more complex and cross-disciplinary scientific data from new sources and at enormously varying scales; to transform this information into knowledge by combining and analyzing it in new ways; to deepen our understanding of learning and intelligence in natural and artificial systems; to explore the cognitive, ethical, educational, legal and social implications of new types of learning, knowledge and interactivity; and to help scientists collaborate in sharing knowledge and working together.

These 40 new grants represent the full complement of research themes (KN, LIS, and NCC) within the Foundation-wide investment in KDI. Nearly 700 research proposals were received and reviewed by an advisory panel of 235 experts representing the full spectrum of scientific disciplines within the purview of the KDI initiative.

"We were impressed with the number of excellent proposals," said Michael McCloskey, NSF's KDI coordinator. "I wish we had been able to fund more of them."

In addition to NSF's Office of Polar Programs, all six research directorates are collaborating on the KDI grants, including Biological Sciences; Computer and Information Science and Engineering; Education and Human Resources; Engineering; Mathematical and Physical Sciences; and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.


Editors: More details about KDI and specific KDI grants are available at:

Attachment:Examples of KDI awards

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Below are examples of KDI awards. Included are title, award number, principal investigators and institution. More information can be accessed (via the award number) at: More details about KDI are available at: (KN=Knowledge Networks; LIS=Learning and Intelligent Systems; NCC=New Computational Challenges.) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to