Grand Challenges are lists of difficult but important problems which are laid out by various organizations to encourage technological innovation that would solve them. In some cases these lists are used to direct government or philanthropic research funds.
The presidential Office of Science and Technology Policy in the United States set out the first list of grand challenges in the late 1980s, to direct research funding for high-performance computing. This was partially in response to the Japanese 5th Generation (or Next Generation) 10-year project.
The list envisioned using high-performance computing to improve understanding and solve problems in:
The National Science Foundation has updated its list of grand challenges, removing largely completed challenges such as the Human Genome Project, and adding new challenges such as better prediction of climate change, carbon dioxide sequestration, tree of life genetics, understanding biological systems, virtual product design, cancer detection and therapy, and modeling of hazards (such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, and chemical accidents), and gamma ray bursts. In addition to funding high-performance computing hardware, the NSF proposed to fund research on computational algorithms and methods, software development methods, data visualization, education, and workforce development.