Grand Challenges in Computing Research

UKCRC would like to invite comment and discussion on the submissions.


In 2002 the UK computing research community held discussions to formulate a list of grand challenges which could contribute to the long-term advancement of the subject. These initial ideas crystallised into the eight Grand Challenges in Computing Research currently listed on the UKCRC website.

We are all indebted to the chairs and members of the steering committees which acted as incubators for their respective grand challenges by organising networks, workshops, conferences and various dissemination activities for no reward other than seeing a new interdisciplinary research community develop. Due to their considerable efforts the Grand Challenges have helped the funding agencies and the community to develop ideas about strategic directions for computing research in the UK and had a major positive impact on all our research. 

However, in that time the research landscape has changed considerably - both in terms of the ways in which research is supported and the new research challenges we see ahead. There are many topics not covered in the current list of grand challenges, and some of the things we saw as challenges when they were established are now part of the fabric of society whilst others are still decades away. We also see computing research increasingly drawn upon to solve major societal issues.

Given this changing landscape the members of the Grand Challenges Steering Committee (GC0) feel that it is now timely to consider a radical shake up of the UKCRC Grand Challenges and ask for submissions from across the computing research community to help us re-define the Grand Challenges in Computing Research for the next decade and beyond. 

As part of this exercise we will also be asking each of the existing grand challenge chairs whether they think their job is done or whether they think the grand challenge for which they are responsible should continue and, if so, in what form. We are also soliciting radically new views of computing and the new challenges that will drive the discipline forward. Much has changed over the last decade and now is the time for us all to chart the future decade and beyond.

Reflecting the increasingly critical role computing research plays in major societal grand challenges,  for the purposes of this meeting we have picked four challenges on which to focus, namely - climate change, assisted living, security and health. We are inviting experts from research communities associated with these domains to join us on the day to contribute to our discussions. 

To help focus the discussion, we are asking everyone who makes a submission to the conference to specify how they fit with one or more of these topics. We plan to spend half the day discussing grand challenges from a computing perspective, and half discussing the relationship between computing research and the societal grand challenges identified above.

Submission details

Please submit your ideas about Grand Challenges in Computing Research for 2010 by following the appropriate link on either the ACM-BCS Visions in Computer Science 2010 website or the UKCRC Grand Challenges website. The rules are very simple – no more than two A4 pages (in readable type) per submission and no more than two submissions per person or group of people. Anything beyond these limits will be ignored. Please say clearly whether your submission

a) relates to an existing grand challenge in computing, and if so which one, or

b) relates to the role of computing research in one of the four societal grand challenges identified above i.e. climate change, assisted living, security, health, or

c) defines a new grand challenge in computing.

All submissions should specify how they fit with or contribute to one or more of the societal grand challenges we have identified. You should also include your name and affiliation as well as the names and affiliations of any co-authors of the submission. If your submission relates strongly to a societal grand challenge not identified in the list above please tell us about this as it will help us plan discussions going forwards.

Submissions will not be reviewed in the traditional sense. The Steering Committee plus co-opted members from the international computing research community will cluster the submissions to produce a programme for the day that will enable as many people as possible to contribute to the discussions. Some of the submissions will be picked for lightening talks and panel presentations.

Submit here: GCCR'10

Calling all Visionaries

We are very keen for as many people as possible from the research community to take part in this debate and to attend the conference on the day. The cost of attendance has been kept deliberately low to enable young researchers and others on tight budgets to attend as well as established researchers. You do not have to submit anything in order to attend - conference registration will be on a first come, first served basis up to a maximum of 200 people (the physical limits of the space available).

However after the programme details have been announced priority will be given to people who have been asked to give lightening talks, present their ideas in panel sessions or lead discussion groups. So to avoid disappointment you are advised to register sooner rather than later. You can register as part of the ACM-BCS Visions in Computer Science conference package, or just for the Grand Challenges day. There will be an optional dinner on the evening of Thursday 15 April. Registrations will commence on 11 January 2010.

All submissions will be made available on a wiki, or other similar social networking technology, prior to the conference so that the entire community has the ability to comment on the ideas that have been put forward. We very much hope to make use of Twitter feeds on the day to enable everyone to contribute whether they can physically be in Edinburgh or not. The Steering Committee reserves the right to filter out submissions that are defamatory or personally offensive in any way.

We look forward to receiving your submissions and to seeing you in Edinburgh on 16 April. This is your chance to contribute to the strategic direction of your research community.

Grand Challenge Steering Group:

  • Wendy Hall (Chair)
  • Alan Bundy
  • Tom Rodden
  • Joe Sventek
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