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From: Rohit Khare (
Date: Fri Jan 07 2000 - 07:39:12 PST

>Do you have a pointer to the PITAC expedition project you mentioned?

The Endeavour Expedition: Charting the Fluid Information Utility

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-1776
"Endeavour": To strive or reach; a serious determined effort
(Webster's 7th New Collegiate Dictionary), British spelling; Captain
Cook's ship from his first voyage of exploration of the great unknown
of his day: the southern Pacific Ocean (1768-1771); It was said of
James Cook, "He left nothing to his successors other than to marvel
at the completeness of his work."

Our goal is nothing less than radically enhancing human understanding
through the use of information technology, by making it dramatically
more convenient for people to interact with information, devices, and
other people. We will achieve this by developing a revo-lutionary
Information Utility, able to operate at planetary scale. To validate
the architec-ture, we will stress it under demanding applications for
rapid decision making and learn-ing. In addition, we will develop new
methodologies for the construction and administra-tion of systems of
this unprecedented scale and complexity. Our success will be measured
by how effectively our architecture actually amplifies and leverages
human intellect.

We have assembled an outstanding expedition team of fourteen leading
computer scien-tists and electrical engineers whose broad expertise
spans MEMS and hardware devices, scalable computing architectures,
network-oriented operating systems, distributed file systems, data
management systems, user interfaces, collaboration applications,
program verification, and methodologies for hardware and software
design and evaluation.

The focus of the expedition is the specification, design, and
prototype implementation of a planet-scale, self-organizing, and
adaptive Information Utility. Its key innovative tech-nological
capability is its pervasive support for fluid software. That is, the
ability of proc-essing, storage, and data management functionality to
arbitrarily and automatically dis-tribute itself among Information
Devices and along paths through scalable computing platforms
integrated with the network infrastructure, compose itself from
pre-existing hardware and software components, satisfy its needs for
services while advertising the services it can provide to others,
while negotiating interfaces with service providers while adapting
its own interfaces to meet "contractual" interfaces with components
it services. The fluid paradigm will enable not only mobile code, but
also nomadic data, able to du-plicate itself and flow through the
system where it is needed for reasons of performance or availability.
The Information Utility will be designed to support, and to integrate
with infrastructure services of processing, storage, and information
management, a great di-versity of Information Devices. These will
include radical devices like MEMS-sensors/actuators and other capture
and display devices that go well beyond the straight-forward
extrapolations of today's server, desktop and portable computers. The
Informa-tion Utility architecture will be stressed by using it to
enable demanding applications that support collaboration and learning
in virtual and physically-enhanced activity spaces.

It will be designed and evaluated using innovative tools and
comprehensive methodolo-gies that are based on formal methods that
span hardware and software, optimize the de-sign for decomposition
into reusable components with contractual yet adaptive interfaces,
and verify the correctness and safety of the whole artifact being

Another innovation, enabled by the Information Utility's ubiquitous
ability to capture and organize information about human activities at
an unprecedented scale, will be the auto-matic extraction of implicit
(tacit) information about how people interact with other peo-ple and
information sources in their daily lives. This will make possible the
enhanced leverage of human activities, experiences, and intellect.

Randy H. Katz, 17 July 1999,

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