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Computing Advances Vital to Sustainability Efforts

National Academy of Sciences (06/29/12) Lorin Hancock

Advances in computing, such as those that help to understand complex systems and their connections, are crucial to solving sustainability problems, according to a recent National Research Council report.  University of California, Los Angeles professor Deborah Estrin says the report “will give us a chance to start creating opportunities for transformative efficiency gains, deep scientific understanding, and informed evolution of the associated political and economic systems.”  The report relies on smart energy grids, sustainable agriculture, and resilient infrastructure to demonstrate the potential impact of advances in computing.  The report recommends working toward these sustainability goals by solving specific problems.  The ultimate goal of applying computer science to sustainability is to inform, support, facilitate, and automate decision making, according to the report.  In addition, the report emphasizes that computer science research in sustainability must be an interdisciplinary effort, with experts in the different fields of sustainability being equal partners in research.

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