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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 Research Connections Blog

    SEIF issues 2014 awards RFP


    Software Engineering Innovation Foundation 2014Today, October 29, 2013, the Microsoft Research Connections Computer Science Group—in conjunction with the Research in Software Engineering Group (RiSE), the Sensing and Energy Research Group, and Global Foundation Services—is officially issuing the request for proposals for the Software Engineering Innovation Foundation (SEIF) 2014 awards. You’ll find more information below on the 2014 RFP.

    This marks the fifth RFP since SEIF’s founding. A lot has happened since its formation in 2010, but the goals of the foundation and its annual SEIF Awards have remained constant. As Judith Bishop, director of computer science at Microsoft Research Connections, so ably stated then, “It is these three aspects—education, life, and industry—that the Software Engineering Innovation Foundation Awards were set up to address.”

    Today, we can point to amazing SEIF research projects in all three of these areas. For example, Professor Pankaj Jalote of IIIT Delhi, in India, developed a hands-on software engineering curriculum while working on his SEIF 2010 project, “An Integrated Approach for Software Engineering Projects using Visual Studio Platform.” Professor Nilanjan Banerjee of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, United States, is working to help people with disabilities live fuller lives through his SEIF 2013 project, “Wearable Multi-Sensor Gesture Recognition in Assistive Devices for Paralysis.” And a number of SEIF research projects are addressing the challenges of software development at industrial scale—for instance, the SEIF 2011 project “Augmenting Social Awareness in a Collaborative Development Environment” of Professor of Filippo Lanubile of the University of Bari, Italy. For more information on past winners, visit the SEIF website.

    As we gear up SEIF’s fifth RFP, we will be holding a SEIF workshop in Rio de Janeiro on November 25–26, 2013. This workshop—which will bring together Brazilian scientists, Microsoft researchers, and past SEIF awardees—is intended to advance the state of software engineering in Brazil. It will also provide an opportunity to discuss the proposal guidelines for the SEIF 2014 RFP. Our focus areas this year are:

    • Software engineering in and for the cloud
    • Data analytics for software development and engineering
    • Programming paradigms and software engineering tools for the Internet of Things
    • Tools for testing and verification
    • Tools and technologies challenging computer science education in general, and teaching of programming in particular
    • Empowering end users with program synthesis
    • Programming in the presence of uncertainty and approximation
    • Infrastructure for cloud-scale software
      • Server, storage, interconnect, and data center architecture and design
      • Intra- and inter-data center networking
      • Resource models and resource-aware programming models
      • Resource provisioning, monitoring, and control for cloud computing

    We are pleased this year to welcome the involvement of Sensing and Energy Research Group in the RFP, as well as Global Foundation Services, which is encouraging submissions for research in software engineering for Internet-scale cloud services.

    The deadline for this year’s proposals is January 31, 2014. We will announce winners by March 24, 2014. We are looking forward to another year of SEIF, and another exciting set of research projects.

    Arjmand Samuel, Senior Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections

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  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Learn to tell stories with data at the Excel for Research webinar


    We hear a lot these days about “data science,” but what is it, exactly? Data collection, data management, data wrangling, big data, broad data—these are all pieces of the data-science puzzle.

    One view is that data science is all about telling stories—with data. However, the stories are definably non-fiction: it’s about separating fact from fiction, gut instinct from incontrovertible evidence.

    Free Excel for Research webinar

    Finding compelling storytellers is not easy. That’s why pinning down what a data scientist does is so difficult; it includes such a wide variety of tasks and required skills. It’s an interesting mix of finding the right question, then putting together the answer and presenting a narrative with numbers, analysis, charts, and animated visualizations to make the point. While Microsoft Word and PowerPoint are seen as the tools of choice for more traditional storytellers, in the new era of data-intensive research, Microsoft Excel is becoming the new star. And now it has a few nice surprises, such as Power BI for Office 365, the new multipurpose-tool for the data scientist—allowing you to clean, slice, dice, plot, map, and animate your data easily.

    If you’re one of the many researchers who already use Excel extensively, these new features mean you can continue to use a familiar tool but with much wider and deeper capabilities. It’s a convenient entry point for data on the web and in the cloud, allowing you to make use of data in Windows Azure from computations, experiments, and field studies.

    To find out more about how Excel and Power BI can help your research, tune into our webinar on February 26, 2014, at 16:00 UTC/GMT (08:00 PST), and we’ll walk you through how to find, query, analyze, and visualize your data in new ways. Register to join us for this free, interactive webinar.

    We’d also like to hear your Windows Azure project stories. Tell us how you’re using Windows Azure in your research—what problems you’re trying to solve and how using the cloud is working out for you. Just post your story on the Windows Azure for Research LinkedIn Group and you could be chosen to tell your story at one of our worldwide events, inspiring other researchers to follow your example.

    Kenji Takeda, Solutions Architect and Technical Manager, Microsoft Research Connections

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  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Literome: extracting knowledge from biomedical publications


    As any researcher knows, keeping up with scientific knowledge isn’t easy. This is especially true in the field of medical genetics, where advances in DNA sequencing technology have led to an exponential growth of genomics data. Such data hold the key to identifying disease genes and drug targets, because complex diseases inevitably stem from synergistic perturbations of pathways and other gene networks. Many of these interactions are known, but most of this knowledge resides in academic journals, the number of which has undergone its own exponential growth. It thus has become increasingly difficult for researchers to find relevant knowledge for genomic interpretation and to keep up with new genomics findings. Fortunately, help has arrived with the Literome Project.*

    Literome is an automatic curation system that both extracts genomic knowledge from PubMed (one of the world’s largest repositories of medical and life science journal articles) and makes this knowledge available in the cloud, with a website to facilitate browsing, searching, and reasoning. Currently, Literome focuses on the two types of knowledge most pertinent to genomic medicine: directed genic interactions, such as pathways, and genotype-phenotype associations. Users can search for interacting genes and the nature of the interactions, as well as for diseases and drugs associated with a given gene or single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). Users can also search for indirect connections between two entities; for example, they can look to see if a gene and a disease might be linked by searching for known associations between an interacting gene and a related disease.

    Literome builds on Microsoft Research natural language processing (NLP) technology, extracting information from PubMed abstracts via our Statistical Parsing and Linguistics Analysis Toolkit (SPLAT), and uses the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to store, analyze, and disseminate the information.

    Scientists can use Literome in a number of ways, from exploratory browsing, to corroborating or refuting new discoveries, to programmatically integrating pathways and genotype-phenotype associations for making discoveries from genomics data. Literome is freely available for noncommercial use through an online service, or downloadable web services. It is our hope that Literome will help researchers search genomic medical findings that can lead to new understanding and treatment of genetically mediated diseases.

    Hoifung Poon, Researcher, Microsoft Research

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    *The Literome Project is a joint project from Hoifung Poon, Chris Quirk, Charlie DeZiel, and David Heckerman of Microsoft Research.

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