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4. Information Fusion
Developing and maintaining situational awareness in complex and dynamic military scenarios increasingly demands collection and interpretation of information from vast sets of disparate sources. Achieving automated systems that can seek out the information they need to pose and update high-level, actionable conclusions by sensing their environments, mining distributed and heterogeneous data sources, running embedded simulations, and incorporating human input entails a spectrum of constituent challenges, including: (1) handling data of disparate types, at different scales of granularity, and with varying degrees of quantifiability; (2) accommodating distributed and networked information gathering with constraints and costs on resources; (3) achieving computational tractability to scale to large scenarios with immense data flows and real-time requirements; (4) dealing with unconventional targets, such as viruses infecting computer networks; (5) Learning and reasoning to distill high-level knowledge and conclusions with known reliability from all pertinent information sources; and (6) formulating and executing queries to gather information needed to fill the gaps between the current state of knowledge and reliable, actionable conclusions.

This program supports basic research to address these and other challenges that are essential in achieving the objectives described above. Mathematically rigorous foundational approaches that underpin the development of scalable algorithms with predictable performance are of particular interest.

In this regard, we encourage proposal of ideas to:
(a) develop mathematical representations of information that simultaneously support low-level quantitative data and high-level qualitative information;
(b) create scalable frameworks for inference and learning on such representations;

(c) define meaningful and computable metrics of situational awareness, including uncertainty, and quantify the utility of information sources in view of such metrics;


(d) design algorithmic approaches to closed-loop tasking of information resources and fusion of the information they provide that yield predictable performance in terms of situational awareness metrics; and
(e) pioneer new methodology for adaptive information collection and fusion that can achieve and maintain a desired level of situational awareness.
Heuristic approaches are also of some interest, particularly in connection with reasoning to achieve high-level interpretations of scenarios from collected information, provided they support broadly applicable methodology and lead toward solutions whose domains of effectiveness and reliability can be accurately characterized.
Dr. Douglas Cochran AFOSR/RSL (703) 696-7796

DSN 426-7796 FAX (703) 696-7360

E-Mail: douglas.cochran@afosr.af.mil


5. Dynamics and Control
This program emphasizes the interplay of dynamical systems and control theories with the aim of developing innovative synergistic strategies for the design and analysis of controlled systems that enable radically enhanced capabilities for future Air Force applications. Proposals should focus on the fundamental science and mathematics, but should include connectivity to appropriate Air Force applications. These applications currently include information systems, as well as autonomous/semi-autonomous aerial vehicles, munitions, and space vehicles.

Some current research interests include adaptive control and decision making for coordinated autonomous/semi-autonomous aerospace vehicles in uncertain, information rich, dynamically changing, networked environments; understanding how to optimally include humans in the design space; novel schemes that enable challenging multi-agent aerospace tracking in complex, cluttered scenarios; robust and adaptive non-equilibrium control of nonlinear processes where the primary objective is enhanced operability rather than just local stability; new methods for understanding and mitigating the effects of uncertainties in dynamical processes; novel hybrid control systems that can intelligently manage actuator, sensor, and processor communications in a complex, spatially distributed and evolving system of systems; sensor rich, data driven adaptive control; managing adversarial and stability issues for systems in cyberspace; applying control concepts motivated by studies of biological systems; and the control of unsteady fluid-structure interactions. In general, support for research in linear systems theory is declining, while interest in the control of complex, multi-scale, hybrid, highly uncertain nonlinear systems is increasing. Further, new mathematics in clear support of dynamics and control is of fundamental importance. In this regard, some areas of interest include, but are not limited to, stochastic and adversarial systems, partial and corrupted information, max-plus and idempotent methods, game theory, nonlinear control and estimation, and novel computational techniques specifically aimed at games, control and systems theory.


The dramatic increase in complexity of Air Force systems provides unique challenges for the Dynamics and Control Program. Meeting these challenges may require interdisciplinary approaches as well as deeper studies within single disciplines. Lastly, note that the Dynamics and Control Program places special emphasis on techniques addressing realistic treatment of physical applications, complexity management, semi-autonomous systems, and real-time operation in stochastic and adversarial environments.

Dr. Fariba Fahroo AFOSR/RSL (703) 696-8429

DSN 426-8429 FAX (703) 696-7360

E-Mail: fariba.fahroo@afosr.af.mil




6. Mathematical Modeling of Cognition and Decision

This program supports research on high-order cognitive processes that are responsible for human performance on complex problem solving and decision making tasks. The overall objective is to understand these processes by developing and empirically testing mathematical or computational models of human attention, memory, categorization, reasoning, problem solving, learning and motivation, and decision making. We are especially interested in how humans adapt to information-rich environments that are uncertain, dynamically changing, and often adversarial in nature, and gain knowledge and expertise to make decisions with effectiveness and efficiency; as well as how deviations of human behavior in certain situations from optimality and rational analysis can be accounted for and exploited.

Research to elucidate core computational algorithms of the mind and brain, often posed as finding solutions to well-formulated optimization or statistical estimation problems, has proven to be particularly valuable in providing the benchmark against which human performance can be measured.
Selected examples of such algorithms include (the list is not exhaustive):

(1) reinforcement learning algorithms for planning and control in sequential decision making, where short and long term goals of an action are optimally balanced;


(2) sequential sampling algorithms for trading between speed and accuracy in decision-making under time pressure, where optimal stopping rules take into consideration payoff for a prompt but inaccurate decision and cost for delaying it;
(3) classification algorithms from supervised or semi-supervised learning, where optimal generalization from examples during categorization learning is achieved through regularizing the complexity of data-fitting models;

(4) probabilistic graphical models and Bayesian algorithms for reasoning, inference and prediction, where prior knowledge and data/evidence are optimally combined, in hierarchical and even non-parametric settings.


In relating such core algorithms to human cognition and performance, research projects should not only ascertain their descriptive validity and neural plausibility or feasibility, but also deepen our understanding of mathematical characterizations of principles of adaptive intelligence. To this end, the program welcomes proposals investigating mathematical foundations of machine learning algorithms including reproducing kernels, sparse representation and compressed sensing, variational inference, manifold learning, graph diffusion, etc. The program encourages bidirectional interactions between the machine learning community and mathematics experts in convexity/duality, function analysis, differentiable manifold, algebraic topology, etc.


This program also embraces traditional approaches in mathematical psychology, for example, algebraic approaches for axiomatic foundations of probability, utility (and its temporal discounting), and geometric or topological approaches to characterize similarity and scaling between stimuli in a multi-dimensional vector space or manifold. Cross-disciplinary teams with cognitive psychologists in collaboration with mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists and engineers, operation and management science researchers, information scientists, econometricians and game theoreticians, etc., are encouraged, especially when the research pertains to common issues and when collaboration is likely to generate bidirectional benefits.
Dr. Jun Zhang AFOSR/RSL (703)-696-8421

DSN 426-8421 FAX (703)-696-7360

Email: jun.zhang@afosr.af.mil


7. Natural Materials and Systems
The goals of this multidisciplinary program are to study, use, mimic, or alter how living systems accomplish their natural functions. Nature has used evolution to build materials and sensors that outperform current sensors (for example, a spider’s haircells can detect air flow at low levels even in a noisy background). This program not only wants to mimic existing natural sensory systems, but also add existing capabilities to these organisms for more precise control over their material production. The research will encompass four general areas: sensory mimics, natural materials, natural/synthetic interfaces, and physical mechanisms of natural systems under environmental distress.

Sensory mimetic research attempts to mimic novel sensors that organisms use in their daily lives, and to learn engineering processes and mechanisms for control of those systems. This program also focuses on natural chromophores and photoluminescent materials found in microbial and protein-based systems as well as the mimicking of sensor denial systems, such as active and passive camouflage developed in certain organisms addressing predator-prey issues.


The natural materials area is focused on synthesis of novel materials and nanostructures using organisms as material factories. The program also focuses on understanding the structure and properties of the synthetic materials. The use of extremophiles is added to address the development of materials not accessible due to environmental extremes. We are also interested in organisms that disrupt or deny a material’s function or existence in some way.

The natural/synthetic interfaces area is focused on the fundamental science at the biotic and abiotic interface. The nanotechnology and mesotechnology sub-efforts are focused on surface structure and new architectures using nature’s idea of directed assembly at the nanoscale to mesoscale to create desired effects, such as quantum electronic or three dimensional power structures. The use of these structures is in the design of patterned and templated surfaces, new catalysts, and natural materials based-optics/electronics (biophotonics).

The “physical mechanisms of natural systems under environmental distress” area is focused on discovering and understanding basic natural mechanisms used by organisms that could be used to either harden or repair soft material-based devices. This will enable the Air Force to employ biological systems with optimum performance and extended lifetimes. As protein and nucleic acid molecules are increasingly used as catalysts, sensors, and as materials, it will be necessary to understand how we can utilize these molecules in extreme environments, with the ability to regulate the desired function as conditions change, and to store the device for prolonged periods of time. Areas of interest include: the mechanisms for survival and protein stability in extremophilic archaea, fundamental studies of bacterial sporulation, and enzymatic engineering for faster catalysis in materials identification or degradation.

Dr. Hugh C. De Long AFOSR/RSL (703) 696-7722

DSN 426-7722 FAX (703) 696-7360

E-mail: hugh.delong@afosr.af.mil


8. Optimization and Discrete Mathematics
The program goal is the development of mathematical methods for the optimization of large and complex models that will address future decision problems of interest to the Air Force. Areas of fundamental interest include resource allocation, planning, logistics, engineering design and scheduling. Increasingly, the decision models will address problems that arise in the design, management and defense of complex networks, in robust decision making, in optimal control and dynamical systems and in artificial intelligence and information technology applications.
There will be a focus on the development of new nonlinear, integer and combinatorial optimization algorithms, including those with stochastic components. Techniques designed to handle data that are uncertain, evolving, incomplete, conflicting, or overlapping are particularly important.

As basic research aimed at having the broadest possible impact, the development of new computational methods will include an emphasis on theoretical underpinnings, on rigorous convergence analysis, and on establishing provable bounds for (meta-) heuristics and other approximation methods.

Dr. Donald Hearn AFOSR/RSL (703)-696-1142

DSN 426-1142 FAX (703)-696-7360

Email: donald.hearn@afosr.af.mil


9. Sensory Information Systems
This program coordinates multi-disciplinary experimental research with mathematical, neuromorphic, and computational modeling to develop the basic scientific foundation for understanding and emulating sensory information systems. Emphasis is on (a) acoustic information analysis, especially in human auditory perception, and (b) sensory and sensorimotor systems that enable 3D airborne navigation and control of natural flight, e.g., in insects, birds, or bats.

One research goal is to forge new capabilities in acoustic analysis, especially to enhance the intelligibility and usefulness of acoustic information. The primary approach is to discover, develop, and test principles derived from an advanced understanding of cortical and sub-cortical processes in the auditory brain. Included in this approach are efforts to model and control effects of noise interference, understand the psychoacoustic basis of informational masking, develop new methods for automatic speech detection, classification, and identification, and enable efficient 3D spatial segregation of multiple overlapping acoustic sources. Signal analysis methods based upon purely statistical or other conventional “blind source” approaches are not as likely to receive support as approaches based upon auditory system concepts that emphasize higher-level processes not yet fully exploited in engineered algorithms for acoustic information processing. Examples of such higher-level approaches recently supported are time-domain (modulation) filtering and representation, vocal tract/glottal pulse normalization, and spectro-temporal analysis based upon properties of cortical receptive fields. Although this program’s grantees have built a rich tradition of technical innovation in the acoustics area, with many important engineering applications for the Air Force, as well as for other governmental entities and the commercial sector, this program’s priority remains the advancement of the basic science that serves as a foundation for technical progress. The program is multidisciplinary, drawing upon expertise in areas such as computer and electrical engineering, neuroscience, and mathematics. Applicants are encouraged to develop collaborative relationships with scientists in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

Another research goal is to deepen the scientific understanding of the sensory and sensorimotor processes that enable agile maneuvering and successful spatial navigation in natural flying organisms. Emphasis is on the discovery of fundamental mechanisms that could be emulated for the control of small, automated air vehicles, yet have no current analogue in engineered systems. Recent efforts have included investigations of information processing in wide field-of-view compound eye optics, receptor systems for linear and circular polarization sensing, and mathematical modeling of invertebrate sensorimotor control of path selection, obstacle avoidance and intercept/avoidance of moving targets. All of these areas link fundamental experimental science with neuromorphic or other mathematical implementations to generate and test hypotheses. Current efforts also include innovations in control science to explain and emulate complex behaviors, such as aerial foraging and swarm cohesion, as possible outcomes of simpler sensory-dominated behaviors with minimal cognitive support. As in the acoustic areas described above, applicants are encouraged to develop collaborations with AFRL scientists.

However, consistent with AFOSR’s basic science mission, all proposals to this program are evaluated for their potential transformative advance in scientific areas, not for their potential to effect technical improvements in current Air Force systems. with AFRL scientists.

Dr. Willard Larkin AFOSR/RSL (703) 696-7793

DSN 426-7793 FAX (703) 696-7360

Email: willard.larkin@afosr.af.mil


10. Collective Behavior and Socio-Cultural Modeling
We are interested in developing a basic research foundation for using computational and modeling approaches to study behavior of group and communities. This program seeks fundamental understanding of the interactions between demographic groups both to create understanding for technology developments for enhanced cooperation, such as operational decision making with coalition partners, and to explain and predict outcomes between competing factions within geographic regions.

This program encourages collaboration between social, behavioral, cognitive, and biological scientists with computational researchers in disciplines such as mathematics, computer science, modeling, artificial intelligence, control theory, and adaptive systems. Example topics include: (1) Exploring the structure of

cultural knowledge, beliefs, and social norms either broadly, in factor models, or more narrowly, within the framework of a computational cognitive architecture; (2) Reasoning and decision-making processes in cultural context, including reasoning with uncertain information; (3) Self-organization and adaptation of culturally defined entities or groups, including models of group competitive and cooperative interactions; (4) Game-theoretic modeling of interactive agents with imperfect and incomplete information regarding other agents; (5) New approaches to automated reasoning about belief, knowledge, obligation, time, and preference; and (6) Characterization of interacting dynamics at multiple scales, from individual to nation-state.

We are also interested in exploring the fundamental constraints and limits of socio-cultural prediction and rigorous mathematical approaches that will help us assess this. What is the appropriate data upon which to base such models? What are the theoretical justifications for the models proposed? What can such models reasonably be expected to accomplish? How can the different ontologies and models of the various relevant disciplines best be integrated? To predict group behavior do we need to understand the effects of individual level cognition on group decision making and neuroscience correlates of socio cultural behavior? Are multi-level approaches required? How generalizable are socio cultural models to other sub populations? How should we validate such models?


Dr. Terence Lyons, AFOSR/RSL (703) 696-9542

DSN 426-9542 FAX (703) 696-7360

Email: terence.lyons@afosr.af.mil




11. Systems and Software
This program seeks bold, new basic research that addresses the design, creation, and employment of complex software-intensive systems that meet future Air Force needs in the air, space, and cyber domains.

We are looking for transformational research in systems and software engineering to address the growing size and complexity of software in Air Force platforms. New mathematical abstractions and representations are needed that take into account the complex interactions among the software, the systems on which the software resides, and the dynamic environments in which these systems operate. This will be crucial to the development and employment of software-intensive systems.

New insight into the human’s role in these complex systems is essential; we seek new theories for modeling and developing complex systems that have human and machine components. It is important to consider integrated modeling approaches that jointly address the hardware, software, and human components of large-scale systems. Realization of these mixed-component (human-machine) systems may also require new approaches to how computation itself is modeled or even an entirely new understanding of computation.

Dr. David Luginbuhl AFOSR/RSL (703) 696-6207

DSN 426-6207 FAX (703) 696-7360

E-Mail: david.luginbuhl@afosr.af.mil



12. Information Operations and Security
The goal of this program is to enable development of advanced security methods, models, and algorithms to support future Air Force systems. Research is sought to meet the Information Operations challenges of Computer Network Defense (CND), Computer Network Attack (CNA) and the management of the cyber security enterprise.

The security of the software, hardware and human interface in Air Force systems and the protection of information are important issues within this program. Developing the understanding and tools to build inherently secure software, hardware and systems of systems and to ensure the security of the vast amounts of information flowing through relevant networks and information spaces are goals of this program. The development of a Science of Security for software, hardware and systems of systems is the holy grail of this program.


Methods to identify deceptive information already in the system are of particular interest. The development of the mathematical foundations of system, software, hardware and network architectures with respect to their security, including key metrics, abstractions, and analytical tools is a critical issue. New approaches to detection of intrusion, forensics, active response and recovery from an attack on information systems, are needed. Attack attribution is of particular interest. These systems and the data that flows through them will be managed by policy. Security policy research is another area of high interest to this program. Basic research that anticipates the nature of future information system attacks is critical to the survivability of these systems. Research that leads to methods to discover malicious code already imbedded in software or hardware is a high priority.

Dr. Robert L. Herklotz AFOSR/RSL (703) 696-6565

DSN 426-6565 FAX (703) 696-7360

E-mail: robert.herklotz@afosr.af.mil

13. Robust Computational Intelligence

This program supports basic research in computational intelligence necessary to create increasingly robust problem-solving systems. Robustness is defined as the ability to achieve high performance given at least some or all of the following factors: uncertainty, incompleteness or errors in knowledge; limitations on sensing; real-world complexity and dynamic change; adversarial factors; unexpected events including system faults; and out-of-scope requirements on system behavior. The program seeks research proposals to investigate fundamental principles, methodologies, and architectures that will enable computational systems to achieve high performance, adaptation, flexibility, self-repair, and other forms of intelligent behavior in the complex, uncertain, hostile, and highly dynamic environments faced by the Air Force. The vision of this program is that future computational intelligence systems will act as human intelligence amplifiers in such areas as planning, sensing, situation assessment and projection; will monitor, diagnose, and control aircraft or spacecraft; and will directly interact with humans and the physical world through robotic devices. Therefore, research that that enables mixed-initiative interaction and teaming between autonomous systems and human individuals or teams is an important part of the program.

The program encourages research on computational architectures that derive from and/or integrate computational, cognitive, and biological models of intelligence. Research of computational architectures that lead towards integration of human and machine intelligence are also of interest. Proposals to investigate the basic principles of computational intelligence for memory, reasoning, learning, action, and communication are desired insofar as these contribute directly towards robustness as defined above. Research proposals on computational reasoning methodologies of any type and combination, including algorithmic, heuristic, or evolutionary, are encouraged as long as the proof of success is the ability to act autonomously or in concert with human teammates to achieve robustness as defined above.

The preferred methodology of this program is experimental, where theory is tested against real-world (or realistic) data sets and with the use of physical devices (including robots) as experimental apparatus where appropriate. The program encourages multidisciplinary research teams, international collaborations, and multi-agency partnerships. This program is aggressive, accepts risk, and seeks to be a pathfinder for Air Force research in this area. Proposals that may lead to breakthroughs or highly disruptive results are especially encouraged.


Dr. David J. Atkinson AFOSR/RSL and AFOSR/AOARD

PH: +81-3-5410-4409

FAX: +81-3-5410-4407

Email: david.atkinson@aoard.af.mil


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