The Information Sciences Institute
) is a research and development unit of the University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...
's Viterbi School of Engineering
The Viterbi School of Engineering is located at the University of Southern California in the United States. It was renamed following a $52 million donation by Andrew Viterbi...
which focuses on computer and communications technology and information processing. It helped spearhead development of the Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...
, including the Domain Name System
The Domain Name System is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities...
and refinement of TCP/IP communications protocols that remain fundamental to Internet operations.
The ISI conducts basic and applied research for corporations and more than 20 U.S. federal government agencies. It is known for its cross-disciplinary depth, including expertise in computing organizations, interfaces, environments, grids, networks, platforms and microelectronics. The ISI has more than 350 employees, approximately half with doctorate degrees; fifty are faculty at USC. The Institute has a satellite campus in Arlington, Virginia. The ISI is currently led by Herbert Schorr
, former executive and scientist at IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...
The ISI is one of 12 organizations that operate or host internet root name servers.
ISI's expertise falls into three broad categories. "Intelligent systems," where ISI has world-class artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...
capabilities, include natural language, robotics, information integration and geoinformatics, and knowledge representation. "Distributed systems" cover grid information security, networking, resource management, large-scale simulation and energy megasystems, among others. "Hardware systems" involve space electronics, fine-grained computing, wireless networking, biomimetic and bio-inspired systems, and other hardware technologies.
More than 30 concurrent projects include:
- Intelligent systems: genetics research support, integrated geospatial and textual information access, automated language translation and social network dynamics.
- Distributed systems: the Defense Technology Experimental Research (DETER) testbed for Internet security, the Biomedical Informatics Research Network in health informatics, and Internet mapping efforts.
- Hardware systems: cognitive function repair via an electronic hippocampus bypass, Xray microscopy chip inspection and wireless technologies development.
History and achievements
In addition to helping develop TCP/IP and the Domain Name System (DNS), ISI contributed to the Net by editing the "Request for Comments" (RFC) series, the written record of the emerging network's technical structure and operation, from 1977 through 2009. RFC editor and Internet pioneer Jon Postel
Jonathan Bruce Postel was an American computer scientist who made many significant contributions to the development of the Internet, particularly with respect to standards...
was based at ISI until his death in 1998.
ISI also created the world's first e-commerce site, MOSIS
MOSIS is probably the oldest integrated circuit foundry service and one of the first Internet services other than supercomputing services and basic infrastructure such as E-mail or FTP....
, which produces specialty and low-volume chips for corporations, universities and other research entitites worldwide. The Institute helped develop, and was the first entity to implement, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). Some of the first Net security applications, and one of the world's first portable computers, also originated at ISI.
The Institute was founded in 1972, when packet switching pioneer Keith Uncapher
Keith Uncapher was an American computer engineer and manager.At the RAND Corporation Uncapher worked on several pioneering computer projects. He founded the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California, School of Engineering...
left RAND Corporation with backing from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In the 1970s, ISI helped create Internet forerunner ARPANET, among other projects. In 1982, the Institute created the DNS and MOSIS. In 1983, it launched TCP/IP, the event that many Net participants consider the birth date of the Internet, and the SOAR cognitive architecture. Grid computing was launched in 1997, co-parented by ISI researcher Carl Kesselman
Carl Kesselman is an Institute Fellow at the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute and a Professor in the Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, also at the University of Southern California. Carl Kesselman is an acknowledged authority in grid...
. The Globus Toolkit
The Globus Toolkit, currently at version 5, is an open source toolkit for building computing grids developed and provided by the Globus Alliance.-Standards implementation:The Globus Toolkit is an implementation of the following standards:...
initiative that Kesselman co-led is now the de facto standard for grid architecture.
Achievements in the 2000s include significant advances in sensor nets, geospatial mapping, tactical language training "serious games," reliable space electronics, self-configuring robots, automated construction and large-scale simulation.
Customers, startups, and spinoffs
ISI's government customers include the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, US Geological Survey, and Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security and Justice. The US Air Force, US Army and intelligence community also rely on ISI. Among ISI's corporate customers, Chevron Corp
Chevron Corporation is an American multinational energy corporation headquartered in San Ramon, California, United States and active in more than 180 countries. It is engaged in every aspect of the oil, gas, and geothermal energy industries, including exploration and production; refining,...
. and USC operate the Center for Smart Oilfield Technologies
(CiSoft), a joint venture that involves robotics, artificial intelligence, sensor nets, data management and other technologies for locating, extracting and producing oil. The Institute meanwhile has spawned about a dozen startup and spinoff companies in grid software, geospatial information fusion, machine translation, data integration and other technologies.