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Computer Science Ranks High in UK Research Survey

ACM Says Survey Confirms Economic Benefits of Funding Research in Computing

The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession

Contact: Virginia Gold

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New York, NY, February 11, 2009 – A panel of international experts in Computer Science and Informatics (CS&I) has found that the computational thinking that drives the computer science field is a key tool for solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior in many disciplines.  The findings of the project, known as the Research Assessment Exercise 2008, confirmed the UK as a top-ranked research power among the world’s industrialized countries. 


            The survey reported an increased level in the influence of computer science on other disciplines, including bioinformatics, medicine, and e-health, among others.  It also found that more computer science research used mathematics to quantify the complexity and rigor of calculations.  The analysis also found that research funding for CS&I for the period 2001 to 2008 more than doubled, from £252 M ($376.4 M) in 2001 to £511 M ($763.2 M), leading participants to conclude that continued commitment to funding research and innovation is necessary to maintain global excellence in this stressed economy.


            ACM CEO John White commented, “Computer science is uniquely positioned to help with the economic recovery because the innovation it fosters underpins the information technology sector, which is a significant contributor to economic output.” 


            The project was conducted in collaboration with several governmental organizations1 in the UK that distribute public money to institutions of higher learning.  The review of research in Computer Science and Informatics surveyed 81 colleges and universities and found the subject not only healthy and growing, but more rigorous, more interdisciplinary, more experimental, and more user-oriented than ever.


            ACM President Dame Wendy Hall, who participated in the survey’s computer science panel, cited the results as evidence that investment in technology research for computing produces strong economic impacts.  “The vitality of the computing field, which is due in large measure to increased investment in research, is directly related to the degree of innovation that emerges from UK research institutions.  These innovations, in turn, foster research partnerships with start-up companies as well as spinouts and collaborations with subject matter experts and multinational corporations.  The resulting level of economic activity crosses into all industries, even creating new sectors that provide career opportunities in the computing and information technology field,” she said.


            White acknowledged the transformational impact of computer science on innovation across industry and international boundaries.  “This survey has confirmed the critical role of computing in driving innovation and spurring economic growth. In the global economic downturn that is gripping industries across the board, we at ACM place a high priority on increased investment in basic research for computing technology.”  White cited ACM’s support for national and international policies that bolster innovation through substantial new investment in the basic research enterprise and in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education issues. 


            Results for Computer Science and Informatics sector are available on the RAE 2008 quality profiles page. 


About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.  


1Note to Editors:

The Research Assessment Exercise 2008 was jointly undertaken by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland. Its primary purpose is to produce quality profiles for each submission of research activity made by institutions, which these funding bodies intend to use to determine their grant for research to the institutions which they fund.


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