|Volume 1: No. 15|
DARPA has been reorganized, with only the Nuclear Monitoring Research Office unchanged. Although some new clusterings make sense, the overall purpose of the move is unclear. Officially, it is to integrate manufacturing technology throughout the development process in order to reduce costs and speed technology transfer. (The Defense Manufacturing Office has been entirely disbanded or distributed. Could this be continued backlash against Craig Fields' support of HDTV manufacturing research? It would be just like Washington to sow Carthage with salt, or to revise history so that the offending group never existed.) Some observers see a shift from basic research to prototyping, others see it as a shift of applied development funds into basic research areas.
The Information Sciences and Technology Office (ISTO) has spun off its parallel and distributed computing programs to a new Computing Systems Technology Office under Steve Squires, and its machine intelligence and software engineering initiatives to an Intelligent Systems Technology Office [SISTO?] under Barry Boehm.
Other new offices are Advanced Systems (Ron Murphy: aerospace, distributed simulations, mobile target detection, special operations); Defense Science (Lee Buchanan: materials, mathematics, biotechnology); Electronic Systems (Lance Glasser: packaging, displays, etc.); Land Systems (Jim Richardson: armor, anti-armor, vehicle IFF); Microelectronics (Arati Prabhakar: neural networks, optical signal processing, memory technology); and Undersea Warfare (Charlie Stuart: sensors, materials, signal processing, C3I, automation). [Charlotte Adams, Military and Aerospace Electronics, 6/91.]
For more insight into DARPA's AI research thrusts, see the June issue of IEEE Expert. Saul Amarel contributed an overview of the Strategic Computing Initiative (SCI), and Bill Mark and Bob Simpson wrote about the knowledge-based systems program. There are also articles about the Pilot's Associate project and other SCI-funded research. (DARPA has helped bring us a long way from the heyday of COBOL record processing. I just wish I could name a single scientific truth or design principle that we know now and didn't then.)