Microsoft Research Connections Blog

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.

Microsoft announces new research tools at the 2014 Faculty Summit

Microsoft announces new research tools at the 2014 Faculty Summit

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We’re here at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, Washington, where the first day of the 2014 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit is underway. The event kicked off with an opening keynote from Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Development and Research group, during which he highlighted major efforts at Microsoft Research. Two of significance are the integration of Microsoft Academic Search into Bing with Cortana (Microsoft’s new personal digital assistant), and major improvements in computer vision via deep-learning techniques.

Cortana is powered by Bing, and its tight integration of academic data into Bing search results means that Cortana will become a researcher’s dream assistant. Instead of treating information from the academic community in a separate search engine—as competitors do—Bing, and therefore Cortana, will treat scholarly information as a first-class citizen in search results.

We were especially delighted and entertained when the computer-vision announcement was accompanied by the appearance of three show dogs on stage—a visual link to one of the project’s more arresting achievements: the ability to distinguish between the breeds. The system, code-named “Project Adam,” not only can “see” that an image is a dog, but it can accurately determine which of two very similar dog breeds it’s looking at. Project Adam uses deep-learning techniques to deliver a highly efficient, highly scalable distributed system that can perform computer-vision recognition and categorization tasks at world-record levels of performance.

Harry Shum, Microsoft executive vice president of Technology and Research, greets a dog that took the stage as part of a demonstration of Project Adam, a world-record computer-vision effort to train a computer system that can, for example, identify dogs by breed. Harry Shum, Microsoft executive vice president of Technology and Research, greets a dog that took the stage as part of a demonstration of Project Adam, a world-record computer-vision effort to train a computer system that can, for example, identify dogs by breed.

Following the keynote, Peter Lee joined Harry on stage to recognize the 2014 Microsoft Research Faculty Fellows. These seven early-career academics are pursuing some of the most exciting, high-impact areas of computer science, and we’re pleased that their fellowships will free them to devote their energies to research. The crowd was enthusiastic, as most of them know all too well the burdens of grant writing that the Faculty Fellowship alleviates.

Perhaps most exciting to us, however, is knowing that this keynote was shared live with viewers around the world through our live stream of the Faculty Summit. Not only did our online audience get to watch the opening keynote and pose questions during the Q&A, they were also treated to an “online extra”: an extended, post-keynote interview with Harry.

Up next is the session with Jeannette Wing, where our online attendees will be able to learn firsthand what the scientific community deems as Hot Topics. And throughout the course of the day, our online audience will be treated to eight in-depth interviews that will cover cutting-edge developments in online education, wildlife conservation, and the Internet of Things—just to mention a few of the topics. So fire up your web browser and tune in to the Faculty Summit—there are still hours of great content awaiting you.

Judith Bishop, Director Computer Science, Microsoft Research

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