New high performance network applications program awards grants to IU researchers

October 17, 1999

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A new grant program at Indiana University is supporting research into groundbreaking network applications that enable remote astronomical observation and collaborative musical "jam" sessions; develop human-computer interfaces for accessing information available in digital libraries; create a three-dimensional tour of the Mayan city of Chichen Itza; and help to establish a multi-disciplinary teaching, learning and research center for the study of child growth and development.

The High Performance Network Applications Program (HPNAP), an initiative of IU's Office of the Vice President for Information Technology, recently awarded 19 grants to assist IU faculty, graduate students and staff in developing innovative applications for research and teaching that require high performance local, regional or national advanced networks. A high performance network connection can be up to 50,000 times faster than a standard dial-up modem connection, with the ability to process nearly 1.5 billion bits per second.

HPNAP aims to significantly and qualitatively accelerate the evolution of next- generation network-based applications and research tools at IU. The applications developed through this initiative will provide considerable competitive advantage to the university in the areas of teaching, learning and distributed education, and in new collaborative technologies.

One application to be developed under HPNAP is a collaborative learning tool for distributed education called "We Think!" Proposed by researchers in IU's Kelley School of Business, "We Think!" will enable up to 40 concurrent, collaborative learning exercises among pairs of students in distributed classrooms, each performing exercises via personal control of voice, video and data-sharing as effectively as students who are physically sitting beside each other. "We Think!" will offer students the benefits of interaction with peers in other countries, cultures and academic disciplines, and universities will benefit from the economic and strategic appeal offered by inter-institutional courses.

"High performance digital networks and distributed software systems have the potential to change our whole social fabric -- to significantly influence and expand the way we work, communicate, learn, conduct research, and retrieve and store information," said Donald F. McMullen, director of HPNAP and principal scientist in the Advanced Information Technology Laboratory at University Information Technology Services. "This is evident in the wide range of applications proposed to HPNAP by researchers in disciplines across the sciences, the arts and education."

Through a number of recent efforts, including participation in the Internet2 Abilene network, the National Science Foundation's vBNS research network, and development of the TransPAC international research network, IU has achieved a position of prominence in advanced networking.

"As a result, the IU community has gained unprecedented access to high bandwidth networks," McMullen said. "The proposals awarded under HPNAP will develop a new generation of applications that can effectively use the capabilities of these high performance networks, as well as other emerging high performance network connection technologies such as cable modems, xDSL, satellite and wireless."

For more on the funded research proposals, see the HPNAP Web site at

It is anticipated that a second call for proposals will be issued in late fall.

Indiana University

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