a journal of a researcher

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I am in Brazil

I was invited to give a talk about Web services for online experiments in Brazilian Workshop on Information Technology in the Development of Advanced Internet (TIDIA). Sao Paulo Research Foundation supports the research program of the same name since 2001 to support the scientific and technological research in cooperative projects, through an experimental high speed net. The program involves more than 600 researchers in Sao Paulo state. In short, the workshop demonstrates the research results in building the network, e-learning applications over the network.

I found the workshop is well organized and attended. People are able to communicate in English. I was among the four invited speakers. The others are profs from USC, UCDavis and Canarie. So I felt honored. I also enjoyed good hotel and restaurant in Sao Paulo.

During the workshop, I even did two comments during the open discussion in the penal session about research projects and funding in Brazil. From what I observed in the workshop, I found the state and the government are willing to put a significant amount of money into research. They expect both results in fundamental research as well as in practical applications.

But I found there is lack of national or state level plan on research. The deliberation is among some high officers. They could be attracted by some research projects in US or other countries. But there is no systematic analysis of what research topics and problems are important for Brazil. My opinion is that it is important to launch a strategic study what are the society problems in Brazil and how to use CS and IT techniques to solve these problems and develop economics. If these problems are identified and if there are enough well trained researchers, good publications and leading places will come. On the contrary, following the research topics in US does not necessarily mean good publications (the curse to the follower) and the results may not be crucial for Brazil to adopt. Highly qualified personnel has to be trained.
Comparing Brazil and China, I think the development level is similar. Brazil has better medical care system, while China has better education system. The country side and the cities have uneven development levels. But for research, China appears to be stronger. China has clear national strategy on research and technology development. For example, China has put high priority to develop high speed computing, electronic circuit design and manufacturing technology. These domains are considered to be the domains where China will gain best competence in the world. Furthermore, the economics will be built on these domains. In Brazil, I did not see this kind of strategy. As China and Brazil are not in the leading places in many domains in the world, both countries are lack of the top researchers in these domains. With the largest population, China seems to have better potential in students than Brazil.


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