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1.5 Summary

Computational science has developed much like a complex organism It was born in the 1940s, cutting its teeth on the ballistics and nuclear weapons design problems of World War II. It went through its adolescence during the 1970s and 80s, where it began making an industrial impact in fields such as commercial aircraft design. It is just now reaching its prime of life and is poised to take advantage of rapidly developing computing and communications infrastructure to secure its role as a major contributor to national and world economies.

This timing is opportune. We are at a point, late in the industrial revolution, where further refinements to our current systems are costly and yield small returns. The conventional approaches to problem solving, theory and experiment, are quite mature. Most of the problems which are tractable by these approaches have already yielded to them. Yet we are faced with a growing number of complex issues which require immediate attention, ranging from securing future sources of energy through managing a highly interdependent collection of national economies to understanding the impact of human activity on our global environment. There is increasing awareness that the scale and scope of the problems which computational science will ultimately address is such that success is dependent on the establishment of effective collaborations among government, academia and industry. It is only through a common, coordinated effort that adequate resources and skills can be brought to bear on such problems.