The Information Sciences Institute (ISI), located in Marina
del Rey, approximately 15 miles from the campus, is a research facility
of the School of Engineering involved in a broad spectrum of information
processing research, and the development of advanced computer, VLSI, and
ISI was established in 1972 at USC by a small group from
Rand Corporation under the leadership of Keith Uncapher who saw the opportunity
for an academic entity that would bring university technology to focus
on Department of Defense (DoD) problems and objectives. The Defense Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) concurred with the concept and quickly provided
a few million dollars per year to make the new Institute operational.
From that modest beginning, ISI has grown into a $50 million
dollar per year organization that continues to focus on research that
is relevant to the DoD and the national economy, while maintaining a strong
academic environment that supports dedicated researchers and graduate
students. A significant number of ISI staff members have research faculty
positions in the Departments of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering,
and advise graduate students on directed research projects and dissertations.
The staff at ISI consists of approximately 330 personnel:150
researchers (over half at the PhD level), a research/technical support
staff of approximately 50, more than 80 graduate research assistants,
and over 50 additional personnel providing support services or associated
with ISI as consultants or on some other basis.
ISI is organized into a number of research divisions: Software
Sciences, Enterprise Integration Systems, Intelligent Systems, Silicon
Systems, Network Communications, and Advanced Systems. Together these
divisions conduct a wide range of state-of-the art research in such areas
as: software engineering, artificial intelligence, electronic commerce,
network communications, network security, collaborative work methodologies,
robotics, compilers, machine architectures, VLSI packaging, micro-electro-mechanical
structures, and software for distributed multiprocessor systems.
A few specific examples of research projects underway at
ISI include ACMOS, DIVA, and DEFACTO. ACMOS is exploring new ideas for
dramatically reducing power dissipation through the principle of energy
recovery. From this principle, energy that would otherwise be dissipated
as heat is instead recovered and reused. This approach to reducing dissipation
has a fundamental impact on VLSI chip design that spans from the individual
circuit level through to the microsystem architecture. The DIVA project
seeks to demonstrate a dramatic acceleration in the performance of data-intensive
applications through the development of a new computer system architecture
that redefines achieved through exploitation of intrinsic gigabyte/sec
bandwidths of the DRAM internal memory arrays available at low latency
by integrating processing logic into memory chips to perform data-intensive
operations directly in the memory. The DEFACTO effort is focused on leveraging
Adaptive Computing Systems (ACS) technology to define a broader class
of defense systems (e.g., Tank ATR, Sonar Beamforming). The approach taken
will create a compiler that can accept multiple high-level language system
descriptions and automate time consuming ACS-specific code optimization,
build hardware design and cost estimation tools that significantly reduce
the number of iterations of logic synthesis, and construct an open design
environment that embodies the compiler and tools.
Over the years, ISI has achieved some notable developments
and transfers of technology. In networking, ISI has played a key role
in the design, implementation, and production use of the Internet standard
communication protocols (TCP/IP), and has developed a number of the key
applications that have made the Internet so useful e.g., electronic mail
and the Domain Name System which is the backbone of network routing),
and the RSVP protocol. In the area of artificial intelligence, ISI has
developed significant systems that perform: translation of languages into
English; simulation of air battle operations, text summarization of stored
data; and access to multiple data bases through a uniform interface.
One of ISI
Finally, ISI has been continuously involved in discovering
new packaging technologies and transferring them to real architectures.
As an example, ISI successfully reconfigured the INTEL paragon into a
very small, very powerful package that found its way into a commercial
embedded computer for military applications.