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Information for Researchers No. 40 | 7 July 2016
Priority Programme “Algorithms for Big Data” (SPP 1736)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established the Priority Programme “Algorithms for Big Data” (SPP 1736) in 2013. The programme will run for six years. Applications are now invited for the second three-year funding period which will start in 2017.

Computer systems pervade all parts of human activity and acquire, process, and exchange data at a rapidly increasing pace. As a consequence, we live in a big data world where information is accumulating at an exponential rate and often the real problem has shifted from collecting enough data to dealing with its impetuous growth and abundance. In fact, we often face poor scale-up behaviour from algorithms that have been designed based on models of computation that are no longer realistic for big data.

While it is getting more and more difficult to build faster processors, the hardware industry keeps on increasing the number of processors/cores per board or graphics card, and also invests into improved storage technologies. However, all these investments are in vain, if we lack algorithmic methods that are able to efficiently utilise additional processors or memory features.

This is where the new Priority Programme wants to improve the situation by bringing together expertise from different areas. On the one hand recent hardware developments and technological challenges need to be appropriately captured in better computational models. On the other hand, both common and problem specific algorithmic challenges due to big data are to be identified and clustered. Considering both sides, a basic toolbox of improved algorithms and data structures for big data sets is to be derived, where we do not only strive for theoretical results but intend to follow the whole algorithm engineering development cycle.

Concrete challenges include (but are not limited to) algorithmic exploitation of parallelism (multicores, GPUs, parallel and distributed systems, etc.), handling external and outsourced memory as well as memory-hierarchies (clouds, distributed storage systems, hard-disks, flash-memory, etc.), dealing with large scale dynamic data updates, processing compressed data, approximation and online processing under resource constraints, increasing the robustness of computations (e.g., concerning data faults, inaccuracies, or attacks) or reducing the consumption of energy by algorithmic measures.

What distinguishes our initiative from most previous work is that we encourage proposals that do not just want to tackle certain problems in isolation. For example, given a concrete big data application challenge, how can we use massive parallelism, memory-hierarchies, specific data features, and novel algorithmic techniques to solve that challenge or yield better overall performance, and what can be learned from this beyond the application at hand?

Proposals on big data aspects should therefore involve a significant non-numerical algorithmic component. The benefits of the single proposals for the Priority Programme should become visible. In particular, proposals are welcome that focus on problems where big data require a paradigm shift in order to handle them. Classic scientific computing (numerical simulations, etc.) and algorithmic research (i.e., find solutions with low runtime in the RAM model), or applications with small to medium input data sizes are not in the focus.

Proposals for the second maximum three-year funding period must be submitted electronically to the DFG by 12 October 2016 (Deadline 24:00) via its elan system. To enter a new project, please go to Proposal Submission – New Project – Priority Programmes and select the appropriate programme „SPP 1736“ from the list. To enter a renewal proposal, go to Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal and select the current project. Proposals should be prepared and submitted according to the current guidelines and instructions (forms 50.05en and 54.01en, respectively). All proposals must be written in English according to the DFG Proposal Preparation Instructions.

If you are using the DFG’s elan system for the first time, please note that you will need to register before you can use the system. Registration must be completed by 10 October 2016 in order to submit a proposal. Allow up to one business day to process your registration.

Further Information

The DFG’s electronic portal “elan” can be found at:

Proposal guidelines and preparation instructions are outlined in DFG forms 50.05en and 54.01en, which can be found on the DFG website at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the coordinator of the Priority Programme:

For questions regarding scientific aspects please contact:

For general questions please contact: