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Microsoft Research’s Windows Azure for Research program, which features a continuing series of Windows Azure cloud training events and a program of Windows Azure research grants, has been going strong since its launch in September 2013. As the December 15, 2013, deadline for the second round of grant proposals approached, we braced ourselves for a barrage of creative ideas. We weren’t disappointed, receiving proposals from every continent (well, except Antarctica). The response was particularly strong from such countries as Brazil and China, where our recent training events gave researchers an excellent, hands-on view of the capabilities of Windows Azure.
Several strong research themes that had emerged in the first round of proposals continued in the second round. Specifically, the life sciences and the emerging field of urban science were abundantly represented. Both themes can be thought of as big data topics, but they are really part of what we call the fourth paradigm of science, which is about discovering new scientific principles through deep analysis of massive amounts of data.Urban science, which can be described as an interdisciplinary mash-up of computer science and social science, is becoming an important tool for city planners. By using the real-time data that a typical modern city generates, they can gain a better understanding how to improve life for the city’s inhabitants. The cloud is ideally suited to collecting, filtering, analyzing, and sharing these data. A set of related topics that came on strong in the second-round proposals involved environmental science, ecology, and geosciences. Again, the common theme is using Windows Azure on the Microsoft cloud for data collection, analysis, and dissemination. In addition to such fourth-paradigm ideas, we received a large number of excellent computer science proposals that rely on the scale of the cloud to experiment with new algorithms and database topics. Selecting the winning proposals was extremely difficult, as we can fund only a fraction of the submissions. Nonetheless, we persevered and winnowed the proposals down to the grant recipients listed, by lead author and project title, at the bottom of this blog. The order might appear random, but trust me, there’s a logic to it (hint: take a look at the alphabetical order of the country names). You can review abstracts for these proposals at Windows Azure for Research. As a reminder, the next deadline for proposals is February 15, 2014. We encourage potential applicants to attend one of our training events or, if that’s not possible, to study the training material we’ve posted online. You can find a schedule of upcoming training events and the aforementioned training materials at Cloud Research Projects. —Dennis Gannon, Director of Cloud Research Strategy, Microsoft Research Connections
Second-round Windows Azure for Research Award recipients:
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