NSF awards $2.6 million grant to UAB computer science expert for furthering research on scalable declarative AI languages

The project will empower a wide range of users to implement the next generation of genomic analysis, smart querying of medical literature, neuro-symbolic AI with stochastic reasoning, graph analytics, software verification tasks and security auditing.

Environmental shot of Dr. Thomas Gilray, PhD (Assistant Professor, Computer Science), 2018.Thomas Gilray, Ph.D. With increasing complexity and diversity in the hardware configuration of upcoming high-performance computing systems, it is difficult to write maintainable and scalable applications by hand. The National Science Foundation has awarded $2.6 million to Thomas Gilray, assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Computer Science, to mitigate this issue and develop a unified, full-stack foundation for highly expressive rules-based programming to be used across various disciplines.

“We’re very excited to receive this award,” Gilray said. “It has required a lot of progress to get us to this point, and the award will enable us to develop open-source tools, programming languages and frameworks capable of enabling truly scalable reasoning for users across disciplines and to explore our framework’s full potential.”

The grant will help build full-stack implementation approaches for next-generation AI-based programming languages that perform chain-forward reasoning at a massive scale on GPUs, supercomputers and cloud-based clusters. This high-level programming will enable users to simply specify a problem and receive an optimized, materialized solution automatically.

 “The goal of this project is to enable someone with domain-specific medical knowledge, for example, to write sophisticated queries for, and analyses of, medical databases and get back efficient responses without needing to be a computing expert, or even a programmer,” Gilray said. “We are excited to be collaborating with PMI on applications to precision medicine.”

 Matthew Might, Ph.D., professor of computer science and director of the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute, will serve as co-principal investigator on the grant. Other collaborators include researchers at Ohio State UniversityWashington State Universitythe University of TexasSyracuse University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

 The grant follows a previous planning grant awarded to Gilray in 2022 under NSF’s Principles and Practice of Scalable Systems program. 

“The grant will support roughly 12 doctoral students and seven principal investigators for its duration and will help us to foster a closer collaborative relationship with our partners at other universities,” Gilray said.