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A University institute has received a $5.4 million grant that will make it a "national center" in cognitive science research and education. Officials at the University's Institute for Research in Cognitive Science said yesterday that the institute had received the grant, the only one ever awarded, from the National Science Foundation. The five-year award will be spread through the IRCS across several departments, including Computer and Information Science, Linguistics, Mathematics, Philosophy and Psychology. The IRCS is one of only a handful of programs completely dedicated to cognitive science. This branch of science "investigates the capacity of humans and other animals to construct, manipulate and communicate mental representations of the external world," according to a statement from the IRCS. Cognitive science research is especially important to artificial intelligence, machine translation, software development, robotics and graphics and animation. IRCS Co-director Aravind Joshi said yesterday that the grant will increase the Institute's already prominent reputation in the academic community. Engineering Dean Gregory Farrington said he felt the grant was a fitting award to scientists at the University. "I think it is very exciting," Farrington said. "It is the culmination of many years of the research of this group of people . . . it focuses attention on a core area of excellence at Penn." The grant will be doled out over five years and may be increased, according to Joshi. A subprogram of the National Science Foundation awarded the grant with an option to renew it for another six years. It is one of only 14 proposals approved out of 146 applications made to the NSF. The interdisciplinary nature of the IRCS allows the money to be distributed to many departments in both the Engineering School and the School of Arts and Sciences. The IRCS was formed in January 1990 as a restructuring of a Cognitive Science program that was formally established in 1978 and based on research from the early 1960s. The grant will be directly applied in a variety of ways, including support to visiting faculty and post-doctoral fellows, development of new undergraduate and graduate educational programs, funding of workshops, and promoting interaction with public institutions and academic centers.

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