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 communication systems.
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.