For computer scientists, the role federal funding plays in shaping research in their field presents both good news and bad news, according to the preliminary report on a study by the Association for Computing Machinery’s Science Policy Committee of the Special Interest Group on Automata and Compatability Theory. The good news is the fact that no abatement is in sight for the dramatic rise in federal support of computer science research—an increase that has been clearly evident for more than a decade. The report claims that, since 1976; total funding support from the four principal federal sources—the Department of Defense NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy—increased nearly tenfold, from more than $50 million to an estimated $500 million-plus (see chart).

The bad news, says the report, is that serious questions have arisen concerning the possible negative effect that the DOD’s inQrdinately large contribution—and correspondingly large influence—is...

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