Friday, August 27, 2010

Simons Foundation Call for New Institute for the Theory of Computing

(Web Page:
Computation (and its abstract form, the algorithm) has not only revolutionized science, technology, and society, but also is among the most important scientific concepts discovered and developed in the 20th century. This scientific discipline has enabled numerous technological advances and has forged many connections to mathematics and other sciences, providing fruitful insights and new problems. It has impacted not only computer science and technology, but also parts of mathematics, physics, biology, economics and sociology. Meanwhile, its core scientific agenda is extremely ambitious and challenging. In short, this theoretical field is one of the most exciting and important today, attracting excellent young talent to its ranks at a growing rate. Young people with education and training in this field are well positioned to make central contributions to computer science and science in general.

An institute focused on the theory of computation could bring together a critical mass of researchers from around the world to accelerate fundamental research on computation and to further develop its interactions with other areas of science ranging from mathematics and statistics to biology, physics and engineering. The Simons Foundation invites applications for grants to establish such an Institute.
Scope: The new Institute will be focused on research in Theoretical Computer Science, broadly defined, including its theoretical core agenda as well as its joint endeavors with mathematics and the sciences. It will promote sustained collaboration in focused research areas, and become a meeting point for year-long or semester-long visitors at all seniority levels. It will be a center for the training of postdocs. It may also be a venue for conferences and for intense graduate programs, and may host related educational programs at other levels.
Modes of Operation: To help attract the best-established researchers and the strongest postdocs, the Institute must provide excellent working conditions for collaboration among its residents, excellent scientific leadership to determine the planned activities, and an excellent director with strong administrative support to manage it. To have full impact on the field, the Institute must host a frequently changing group of computer scientists as well as mathematicians and scientists from other fields. Suitable models may be found in the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara and in the mathematics institutes such as the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley or the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications in Minnesota. The Institute plan may call for a small core of long-term members, perhaps with a structure similar to that of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara; or the plan may call for a membership that changes entirely every year, perhaps with a structure similar to that of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley.
Funding: The Simons Foundation anticipates making an initial award of up to $6,000,000 per year for ten years, contingent on excellent performance in the first five years. This sum will include up to $1,000,000 per year in indirect costs. It is expected that the proposing institution(s) will contribute significant further resources. After 10 years a renewal or an endowment gift will be considered.
Criteria of Success: Continuation of the Funding after five years will be based on:
  • Scientific impact
  • Effectiveness of scientific planning
  • Quality of members and programs hosted
Detailed criteria will depend on the structure of the proposed Institute, and will be specified at the time of the grant.
Eligibility: Applicants may be Universities, existing Institutes, or consortia of such organizations. The new Institute may be structured as part of a University or as an independent non-profit corporation.
Application and Deadlines:
Letter of Intent: Applicants may submit their Letters of Intent beginning September 15, 2010 through proposalCENTRAL. The deadline for submission is October 27, 2010. The Letter of Intent should outline the proposed structure of the Institution and its potential connections to universities and to the community. On the basis of the Letters of Intent, the Simons Foundation will invite a small number of full proposals.
Full Proposal: Due June 1, 2011, proposals are considered only upon invitation following a Letter of Intent as above. Among the considerations in judging the proposals will be:
  • Governance Structure
  • Name of the first Director, and a supporting letter from that individual
  • Plans for first three years' scientific programs
  • Method of choosing future scientific programs
  • Arrangements and plans for interaction with the national and international computer science communities, and with the scientific community more generally.
  • Plans for dissemination of Institute activities
  • Contribution and commitment of the proposing institution(s)
  • Degree of proximity to a strong center of computer science research
  • Plans for self-evaluation and keeping records of participation
  • Availability, type and location of planned office space for the Institute
  • Arrangements and cost estimates for housing short-term and long-term participants
  • Level of indirect costs charged
Award Date and Start of Operation: It is anticipated that an award will be made by the fall of 2011, with operation to begin, perhaps at half intensity, by January, 2013. Full operation should be started by January, 2014.