1) Computational science is ultimately about doing science, engineering, or mathematics with the aid of computation. Computational science develops and applies computational methods in (usually) traditional scientific fields that are not themselves fundamentally defined by involvement with computation. The computation augments, or in some cases replaces, more traditional laboratory or theoretical work. There is a growing realization that computation can lead to insights in many scientific fields that would not be obtained from theory or experiment alone. I am deeply committed to that view and to seeing its further development. The success of computational science will be measured by the impact of the computational work in the application areas. Computational science is not limited to any specific scientific domain, nor any specific set of computational techniques.
2) The use of computation in many scientific fields is increasing and will increase even without a focussed initiative. However, there is a need and an opportunity to accelerate this process at UC Davis by reserving a substantial number of future FTEs for people in a variety of sciences who incorporate sophisticated computation into their work, and who develop new computational methods as well as use existing ones. By increasing the number of faculty at UC Davis who use and develop computational methods in their various scientific fields, UC Davis will help shape the future of computation in science, engineering, and mathematics. Other mechanisms, such as a graduate group, undergraduate minors, and a center to increase interaction and to coordinate joint research, funding, seminars, graduate advising, courses on material that crosses many scientific fields, etc. are also vital to the success of computational science campus-wide.
3) Computational science requires the non-trivial integration of one or more traditional scientific, engineering, or mathematics specialties with the deep application of mathematics or computer science (and often both). That integration, and an outward-looking orientation, is at the heart of what successful computational science should be. It is not expected that many undergraduates will master the prerequisite scientific, mathematical, and computer science background to then, as undergraduates, study computational science material, truly distinct from the background material. Moreover, much of the background material is taught in existing undergraduate courses. It is therefore the Committee's view that the educational focus of computational science be at the graduate level, although survey courses on computational science are desirable in order to stimulate interest in the field and encourage undergraduates to study the needed background material. No large undergraduate major in computational science can be expected, and the number of undergraduates who will be prepared to take a serious, advanced course on computational science, will be quite limited.
4) Given the wide range of scientific disciplines and of computational techniques that should make up successful computational science, the need for the computational scientist to be integrated into a traditional science as well as a computational field, the lack of a large undergraduate major and limited audience for advanced undergraduate courses in computational science, I do not see that a department-like structure for computational science is desirable. The danger is that a department-like structure will separate computational scientists from the traditional sciences that provide a key part of the justification for computational science. And given the wide range of specialty scientific areas that individual faculty would focus on, it is not clear what ``intellectual glue'' will hold the faculty of such a unit together, unless (and this is highly undesirable) the unit narrows the range of supported computational techniques or application areas. Further, it is unclear that such a department could teach true computational science courses to sufficient numbers of students to justify the anticipated number of FTEs. It is undesirable to replicate courses from Mathematics and Computer Science that form the needed undergraduate background for computational science, and the demand will be limited for the advanced undergraduate courses that fall into the true domain of computational science. Duplication of courses could lead to unproductive friction between CS&E and existing units that would reduce the cooperation between the units and hence retard the central goal of developing CS&E at UC Davis. Any plan for a CS&E unit should have a clear charter to avoid duplication of effort with existing units, and a detailed accounting of how its teaching resources match undergraduate demand.
5) I believe there are two possible models for computational science that can succeed. In one model, hires of computational scientists (people who develop computational tools for their work in a traditional scientific field) are placed in existing departments, aided by the development of a computational science Center to coordinate campus-wide efforts, jointly develop undergraduate minors, and a graduate group. This approach clearly avoids the problem of separating computational scientists from their areas of application. In this model, hires would teach courses in their home departments unrelated to computational science, in addition to developing specialty courses in computational science, either for their home department or for a wider audience. Because computational science would only be a part of their teaching load, the potential imbalance between the number of proposed new computational scientists and the student demand for true computational science courses, would be avoided. This model is consistent, as an example, with the anticipated physics hires mentioned in Section 3.2.5. In the second model, computational scientists who wished to be organized into a unit more focussed on computation than on their applied science, would be housed in a Division of the Computer Science Department. The one commonality that would tie together such people is their commitment to use and to develop computational methods to do science. The only entity on campus that has a fundamental commitment and orientation to computation, and to the development of non-trivial computational tools, is the Computer Science Department. Therefore, if there is to be a concentration of such people into a single unit, the Computer Science Department is the natural home. The faculty in such a Division would be people capable of teaching mainstream computer science courses as well as computational science, and hence this would again avoid the teaching imbalance problem.