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Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SSE, SSI, S2I2)

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See NSF 22-632 for the latest version.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.


Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2) is a bold and long-term investment that maintains a sustained focus on realizing the Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21, http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2010/nsf10015/nsf10015.jsp), which envisions a highly reusable and interoperable cyberinfrastructure architecture that integrates large-scale computing, high-speed networks, massive data archives, instruments and major facilities, observatories, experiments, and embedded sensors and actuators, across the nation and the world, to help make great strides towards revolutionizing virtually every science and engineering discipline.

Software is a primary modality through which CIF21 innovation and discovery has been realized. Software permeates all aspects and layers of cyberinfrastructure (from application codes and frameworks, programming systems, libraries and system software, to middleware, operating systems, networking and the low-level drivers), and catalyzes new thinking, paradigms and practices in science and engineering. Software, in fact, is a cyberinfrastructure in itself.

This software cyberinfrastructure requires a robust, agile architecture and a highly usable and reusable service model, one that allows evolution in order to address increasing scale and complexity, accommodate disruptive hardware trends, allow ever-increasing data volumes, complex application structures and workflows, and emerging considerations such as security, reproducibility, fault tolerance and energy efficiency. Additionally, software must support new scientific and engineering frontiers and their computational methodologies. Education is an important element needed to sustain this vision. SI2 contributes to an able workforce capable of exploiting the full capability of the cyberinfrastructure and the promise for innovation in science and engineering.

The SI2 program focuses on supporting robust, reliable and sustainable software that will support and advance sustained scientific innovation and discovery. Thus, proposals are strongly encouraged to describe their approach to quality software development through a defined software engineering process that includes software testing, the appropriate use of analysis tools and capabilities such as those made available through the Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP, https://continuousassurance.org/), and collaborations with resources such as Software Carpentry (http://software-carpentry.org/) and the Center for Trustworthy Scientific Cyberinfrastructure (CTSC, http://trustedci.org/), in order to gain access to expertise where needed, such as in software design and engineering, as well as in cybersecurity.

The Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (CISE/ACI) partners with Directorates and Offices across the Foundation to support SI2, a long-term comprehensive program focused on realizing a sustained software infrastructure that is an integral part of CIF21. The goal of this program is to catalyze and nurture the interdisciplinary processes required to support the entire software lifecycle, and result in the development of sustainable community software elements and reusable components at all levels of the software stack. The program addresses all aspects of cyberinfrastructure, from embedded sensor systems and instruments, to desktops and high-end data and computing systems, to major instruments and facilities.

The SI2 program aspires to support vibrant partnerships among academia, government, and industry researchers, including international entities, for the development and stewardship of a sustainable software infrastructure that can enhance productivity and accelerate innovation in science and engineering.

For 2017, and in addition to regular SI2 proposals, the SI2 solicitation welcomes proposals that advance the objectives of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), an effort aimed at sustaining and enhancing the U.S. scientific, technological, and economic leadership position in high-performance computing (HPC) research, development, and deployment. Information about the NSCI together with the strategic plans, results of community workshops, background studies and other relevant resources, which suggest priority areas in both the domain sciences and the HPC and software infrastructure, are available at http://www.nsf.gov/nsci/. Proposers are encouraged to review these materials for priority areas identified by the research community.

As in previous rounds of this program, SI2 includes three classes of awards:

  1. Scientific Software Elements (SSE): SSE awards target small groups that will create and deploy robust software elements for which there is a demonstrated need that will advance one or more significant areas of science and engineering.
  2. Scientific Software Integration (SSI): SSI awards target larger, interdisciplinary teams organized around the development and application of common software infrastructure aimed at solving common research problems faced by NSF researchers in one or more areas of science and engineering. SSI awards will result in a sustainable community software framework serving a diverse community or communities.
  3. Scientific Software Innovation Institutes (S2I2): S2I2 awards are intended to establish long-term hubs of excellence in software infrastructure and technologies, which will serve a research community of substantial size and disciplinary breadth. S2I2 includes two subclasses of awards: Conceptualization Awards, which are planning awards aimed at organizing an interdisciplinary community and understanding their software requirements and challenges; and Implementation Awards, which will be made to implement community activities that support software infrastructure, for example, such as those developed by the conceptualization awards. Only Conceptualization proposals will be accepted for this solicitation cycle. However, successful Conceptualization proposals must reflect the quality, commitment, and planning that will be needed to lead to full Implementation awards. Conceptualization proposals submitted to NSF in response to this solicitation must exhibit clear relevance to the overall SI2 program and should be responsive to this solicitation and its review criteria. Proposals that are not relevant or not responsive to the solicitation will not be considered for funding and will be returned without review. Conceptualization proposals must also be in areas not covered by current Conceptualization and Implementation awards. For a list of awards, see Implementation of NSF Software Vision (https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=504817).

The SI2 program recently launched its first two Software Institutes (http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?preview=y&cntn_id=189347). The Science Gateways Software Institute (http://www.sciencegateways.org) and the Molecular Science Software Institute (http://molssi.org) will serve as long-term hubs of excellence and community engagement in the areas of building effective science gateways and in advancing discoveries in molecular science and materials through the use of advanced software tools. Proposals of all types should seek to leverage these Institutes, where appropriate.

Please refer to (i) A Vision and Strategy for Software for Science, Engineering, and Education (NSF 12-113) and (ii) Implementation of NSF Software Vision (http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=504817) for further information about NSF's vision for software as part of cyberinfrastructure and the programs that support this vision.

Prospective Principal Investigators (PIs) should be aware that SI2 is a multi-directorate activity and that they are encouraged to submit proposals for software with broad, interdisciplinary interest. PIs are encouraged to refer to core program descriptions, Dear Colleague Letters, and recently posted initiatives on directorate and divisional home pages to gain insight about the priorities for the relevant areas of science and engineering to which their proposal may be responsive.

As not all divisions are participating at the same level and division priorities differ, it is strongly recommended that prospective PIs contact program officer(s) from the list of Cognizant Program Officers in the division(s) that typically support the scientists and engineers who would make use of the proposed work, to ascertain that the scientific focus and budget of the proposed work are appropriate for this solicitation. Please note that some NSF directorates have additional specific information about their participation in this program, as follows:

  • Within the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE)
    • The Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ACI) manages the SI2 program, and is especially interested in proposals that:
      • Seek to develop, deploy and sustain foundational infrastructure components, and multidisciplinary and omni-disciplinary computational tools and components.
      • Advance the objectives of the NSCI, particularly objectives 2 and 4, by situating the above-referenced tools and components within an ecosystem architecture that is positioned for future advancements in science and engineering;
      • Meaningfully leverage or complement other community cyberinfrastructure (CI) projects - such as the eXtreme Digital (XD) project (http://xsede.org) - and projects funded under NSF programs such as Campus Cyberinfrastructure - Data, Networking, and Innovation (CC*DNI), and Cyber-security Innovation for Cyberinfrastructure  (CICI) and prior programs such as Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBs) – and build on existing community CI services and software, to enable new science and engineering not previously possible; and
      • Contain innovation and empirical research as an integral component of the project. Such research might encompass reproducibility, provenance, effectiveness, usability, and adoption of the software, its adaptability to new technologies and to changing requirements, and the software development lifecycle processes used in the project;
    • The Divisions of Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF), Computer and Network Systems (CNS), and Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS) are interested in supporting SSE and SSI proposals that advance software infrastructure to sustain and advance progress in CISE research areas; integrate CISE research areas (e.g., programming languages and high-performance computing) into new cyberinfrastucture; or advance and adapt software engineering research to impact the software sustainability needs of scientific disciplines.
  • The Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) is primarily interested in the SI2 program as a means to collaborate with other NSF directorates to support proposals that impact a multi-disciplinary community that includes BIO-supported researchers. PIs wishing to submit software development projects that focus primarily on biological sciences should submit to Advances in Biological Informatics (ABI; NSF 15-582).
  • The Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) is interested in proposals that focus on innovative software infrastructure that supports the directorate’s research areas, namely STEM learning and learning environments, STEM workforce development, and broadening participation in STEM. For example, EHR is interested in research studies on how software tools foster STEM learning.
  • The Directorate for Engineering (ENG) is primarily interested in proposals that focus on innovative computational tools that enable advances and scientific discovery in the research areas supported by its divisions of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET), Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI), and Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (ECCS). SSE proposals that are planned to become part of larger SSI-type integrated software systems, leading to increased community involvement, will be given priority in SSE funding decisions.
  • The Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) is interested in software development projects that serve the academic geosciences (atmospheric, geospatial, ocean, earth and polar sciences). Projects must demonstrate strong connections with geosciences end-users and their research needs. Understanding of and integration with GEO and/or NSF investments in cyberinfrastructure, participation in EarthCube and interaction between geo- and cyber/computer scientists will be considered in prioritizing funding of SSI and SSE projects. PIs should contact and consult with both the SI2 GEO Program Officer as well as Program Officers in the relevant geosciences domains.
  • Within the Directorate for Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS):
    • The Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST) is interested in proposals to support the development and dissemination of sustainable software that enables progress on key questions in astronomy and astrophysics.
    • The Division of Chemistry (CHE) encourages proposals that focus on innovative software tools that enable advances in the division’s research areas and at the interface of chemistry and other research domains, including software to enable scientific advances in NSF priority areas. This division encourages the development of software tools that support multiscale modeling of multiple and diverse interactions in complex chemical networks. It also encourages software that enables data-driven discovery in molecular science.
    • The Division of Materials Research (DMR) encourages proposals that focus on innovative software tools that enable advances in the division’s research areas and at the interfaces of materials research with other research domains. The division is particularly interested in projects that develop software tools to enable and support research under the Materials Genome Initiative, such as Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF; NSF 16-613), and under Sustainable Chemistry, Engineering, and Materials (SusChEM; NSF 16-093).
    • The Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) welcomes proposals building computational tools that have broad application in mathematical sciences and related areas.
    • The Division of Physics (PHY) will consider proposals that focus on innovative computational tools that enable advances in the division's research areas.
    • MPS also supports education and community development in cyberinfrastructure, for example, through proposals that include visitor support (particularly for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers), postdoctoral opportunities, or short training courses that increase interactions of domain scientists and software and/or cyberinfrastructure specialists.
  • The Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE) is interested in proposals that focus on innovative software infrastructure that supports the directorate’s research priorities, such as those outlined in SBE 2020 (http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/sbe_2020/). In particular, SBE is interested in proposals that will further the goals of SBE and at least one of the other directorates participating in this solicitation.

Updates and announcements

Program contacts

Rajiv Ramnath
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-4776
Vipin Chaudhary
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-2254
Peter H. McCartney
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-8470
Almadena Y. Chtchelkanova
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-8910 CISE/CCF
Sol Greenspan
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-8910 CISE/CCF
John C. Cherniavsky
Senior Advisor
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-5136
Eva Zanzerkia
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-4734 GEO/EAR
Nigel A. Sharp
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-4905 MPS/PHY
Evelyn Goldfield
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-2173
Daryl W. Hess
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-4942 MPS/DMR
Christopher W. Stark
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-4869 MPS/DMS
Yong Zeng
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-2301 MPS/DMS
Bogdan Mihaila
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-8235 MPS/PHY
Ronald Joslin
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-7030 ENG/CBET
Joanne D. Culbertson
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-4602
Hao Ling
Program Director
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-2210
Cheryl L. Eavey
SI2Queries@nsf.gov (703) 292-7269 SBE/SES

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