Skip to main content
Email Print Share

Communications and Information Foundations  (CIF)


See program guidelines for contact information.


The Communications and Information Foundations (CIF) program supports potentially transformative research that addresses the theoretical underpinnings and current and future enabling technologies for information acquisition, transmission, and processing in communications and information processing systems. As a result, CIF research and education projects strengthen the intellectual foundations of communications and information theory and signal processing in a variety of types of networks such as sensor networks, wireless and multimedia networks, biological networks, and networks of quantum devices. Research outcomes are expected to lead to more secure and reliable communications and advanced mathematical capabilities that are applicable throughout science and engineering.

The program supports basic research in wireless communications, information theory and coding. Included in the CIF program is the reliable transmission of information, in both analog and digital form, in the presence of a variety of channel impairments (noise, multipath, eavesdroppers, interference, etc.). A number of channel architectures are of interest, including multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) channels, feedback channels, optical channels, quantum channels, and biological channels. CIF has a strong interest in the theoretical performance limits for various communication systems architectures and in the presence of various channel impairments. Also of interest are performance metrics and tradeoffs. An important example is the tradeoff between error probability and latency resulting from coding/decoding algorithms, diversity techniques, interference management, and other types of signal processing.

The CIF program also supports fundamental research in networking including network information theory, network coding, and cross-layer research at the lower layers. The CIF research program in networking focuses on the MAC layer and below and emphasizes research in which the physical-layer attributes play an important role in overall network design and performance such as the impact of physical-layer characteristics on higher network layers. CIF supports research at the intersection of communications and information theory, signal processing, and networking. Examples include sensor networks with applications to environmental monitoring, civil infrastructure monitoring, data communications system monitoring, and power grid monitoring. A further example is network tomography, which involves detecting and classifying spatially distributed anomalies within complex large-scale systems from multiple monitoring (sensor) sites.

In addition to the contemporary signal processing topics that have enabled the IT revolution, there is growing interest within the CIF program in new paradigms that enlarge the scope of signal and information processing from the domain of the linear to the realm of the nonlinear - from linear algebra to algebra, from Euclidean to curved spaces, from uniform to highly non-uniform time and space sampling, to signal processing on graphs. Research that will develop efficient power aware and hardware-friendly algorithms and research on signal/information processing algorithms for the new network science of distributed, decentralized, and cooperative algorithms that avoid global communications is encouraged. The exploration of new approaches to manage massive datasets, such as compressive sampling/sensing, also promises advances in the field.

The CIF program is particularly interested in the application of signal/information processing in complex systems. Some examples of exciting applications are monitoring the Nation's critical infrastructures, signal processing in biological systems, and biomedical signal and image processing. These and other emerging application domains pose new constraints and challenges, leading to the reexamination of old questions and assumptions.

More information on topics of interest within this program is available at:

Communications and Information Foundations (CIF) Staff

Funding Opportunities for the Communications and Information Foundations Program:

Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF): Core Programs.  NSF 16-578