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The Microsoft Research Connections blog shares stories of collaborations with computer scientists at academic and scientific institutions to advance technical innovations in computing, as well as related events, scholarships, and fellowships.

2013 SEIF Awards Support Researchers in Software Engineering

2013 SEIF Awards Support Researchers in Software Engineering

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Each year, the Software Engineering Innovation Foundation (SEIF) awards US$25,000 grants to support academic research in software engineering technologies, tools, practices, and teaching methods. SEIF is supported by Microsoft Research Connections Computer Science in conjunction with the Research in Software Engineering Group (RiSE). This year, we were joined by the Microsoft Technology Policy Group.

SEIF supports fundamental and applied research. As Tom Ball, research manager in the RiSE Group at Microsoft Research Redmond says: “SEIF is based on the premise that solid software engineering foundations are fundamental to every kind of system Microsoft builds, so software engineering makes a good base from which attract a wide variety of research in hot topic areas and to partner with academics and groups inside Microsoft Research.” Accordingly, the SEIF 2013 Request for Proposals added device and cloud computing and natural user interface (NUI) based applications to ensure a more comprehensive representation of digital technologies.

The 2013 SEIF Awards included some fascinating projects, such as:

  • CheckCell: Data Debugging for Spreadsheets
    Emery Berger, University of Massachusetts Amherst, United States 
  • Understanding Parallelism and Automating Refactoring for Readability and Performance
    Danny Dig, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States 
  • Mobile/Social Debugging Games for Computing Education
    Andrew J. Ko, University of Washington, United States
  • Engineering Integrity and Confidentiality for the STAR-Vote Electronic Voting System
    Dan S. Wallach, Rice University, United States

NUI applications facilitate human-computer interaction (HCI) by providing more natural forms of input such as gesture, voice, context, anticipatory processing based on a user’s past actions, and environmental awareness. The goal of NUI applications is to provide more intuitive and sophisticated forms of input that are adaptive to the user and require minimal user training—in particular, for the aging population, people with disabilities, socially or geographically isolated individuals, and underserved populations—to promote digital inclusion where other interfaces, such as keyboard and mouse, are impractical.

Additionally, with the advent of new tablet devices and ever more powerful phones, applications that use software services and cloud computing become both challenging and rewarding areas for researchers to explore.

Four of this year’s SEIF awards support this area of scientific exploration:

  • Nilanjan Banerjee at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is constructing a wearable assistive device that recognizes gestures for paralysis patients.
  • Eelke Folmer at University of Nevada, Reno, is creating a spatial navigator for people who are blind.
  • Gillian R. Hayes at University of California, Irvine, is building interactive surfaces with body-based interactions to provide guidance to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  • Shaun K. Kane and Amy Hurst at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, will work on Wheeltop Interaction: Full-Body Gesture Control for Power Wheelchair Users

These are just some highlights from the 16 innovative software engineering projects recognized by this year’s awards, now in their fourth year. You can read more about them and the rest of the SEIF winners on the SEIF website.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 SEIF awards!

Judith Bishop, Director of Computer Science, Microsoft Research Connections

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