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  • Grand Challenges - the background

    The UK Computing Research Committee (UKCRC) is a joint Expert Panel of the BCS and IET (previously IEE); its brief is to report and advise on issues contributing to the advancement of UK Computing Research. The Committee is currently supported by the BCS and IEE. One immediate goal, in 2002, was to assist in the implementation of the recommendations of the International Review of UK Research in Computer Science, commissioned and published jointly by EPSRC, BCS & IEE. 


    The UKCRC, therefore decided to sponsor a workshop to assemble a collection of long-term grand challenges for Computer Science, which could contribute to the long-term advancement of the subject, and which could be selectively adopted as a basis for policy by the funding bodies.

    The following are qualities formulated and directed specifically at the implementation of the recommendations of the International Review.

    • A grand challenge should be defined as to have international scope, so that contributions by a single nation to its achievement will raise our international profile.
    • The ambition of a grand challenge can be far greater than what can be achieved by a single research team in the span of a single research grant.
    • The grand challenge should be directed towards a revolutionary advance, rather than the evolutionary improvement of legacy products that is appropriate for industrial funding and support.
    • The topic for a grand challenge should emerge from a consensus of the general scientific community, to serve as a focus for curiosity-driven research or engineering ambition, and to support activities in which they personally wish to engage, independent of funding policy or political considerations.

    The promotion of a grand challenge is a serious and long-term commitment on the part of a sizeable section of the research community. It should emerge from a realisation that progress in a particular field of science has reached a level of maturity that makes it possible to plan for widespread collaboration towards a goal that was previously impossible. Successful grand challenges are fairly rare in the progress of science, and it is important to ascribe to each challenge an estimate of the timescale in which it likely to be met.

    © UK Computing Research Committee 2009