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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

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

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    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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    How to Say “Fourth Paradigm” in Portuguese

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    Through my work with academics in Brazil, I have witnessed an increasing awareness of the importance of computing in advancing scientific research in such areas as bioenergy, biodiversity, climate change, and plant physiology. In order to advance these fields, scientists need to deal with increasingly complex projects that require the expertise of a multidisciplinary team, and computing is a key element in this effort.

    From data acquisition to data management, visualization, and modeling, researchers confront the need for new tools to enable innovative investigations. At the Microsoft Research-FAPESP Institute, I’ve seen programs such as BIOEN (a bioenergy research program), BIOTA (a biodiversity project), and the Research Program on Global Climate Change, and they all share the need to access and manage massive amounts of data.

    An electronic version of The Fourth Paradigm was released in Portuguese on August, 15, 2011.In light of this need, the Microsoft Research-FAPESP Institute launched the Portuguese translation of The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery, a wide-ranging collection of essays on the process and promise of data-intensive science. An outgrowth of the thinking of late Microsoft researcher Jim Gray, The Fourth Paradigm sets out the parameters of twenty-first-century eScience.

    The launch of the Portuguese edition took place on November 3, 2011, at FAPESP in São Paulo. Professor Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, FAPESP’s scientific director, opened the launch event, observing that “Science advances mostly through the development and application of new instruments. Computing power, the cloud, and other facilities constitute a big new instrument that allows researchers to obtain and analyze gigantic data sets in a way which was not possible a few years ago. The Fourth Paradigm deals with this fascinating window of opportunity for science and a Portuguese translation will contribute to the visibility of the authors’ ideas in Brazil.”

    Professor Roberto Marcondes Cesar, Jr., who supervised the translation into Portuguese, then spoke about eScience in Brazil. “The Brazilian computer science community has been working together with domain scientists for decades in fields such as astronomy, geoscience, bioenergy, and medicine—to name but a few. Different expressive results addressing relevant problems for the country have been achieved and the Brazilian CS [computer science] researchers proceed to increase the collaboration results both in volume and quality. In this sense, the Portuguese translation of The Fourth Paradigm represents an important step in disseminating eScience methods and opportunities, both to attract CS researchers and students to the field and to draw the attention of domain scientists who may benefit from interdisciplinary research.”

    These comments set the stage for a talk by Dan Fay, the director of Microsoft Research Connection’s Earth, Energy, and Environment activities, who said, in part: “For scientists, access to massive amounts of data can be a blessing and a curse—finding the significant nuggets of information that will lead to insights in the huge volumes of data is the problem. Big data is as much challenge as opportunity. When you have data sets as a large as a petabyte, that’s always going to be difficult to move around and analyze… The science of big data is as much about asking the right questions, so that scientists collect the right data, as it is trying to sift through data after the fact.”

    Microsoft Research Connections is proud to partner with FAPESP in the pursuit of data-intensive research, as together we explore the use of computing technology to meet the social and economic needs in the Brazilian state of São Paulo. Oh, and this is how you say “fourth paradigm” in Portuguese: o quarto paradigma.

    Juliana Salles, Senior Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections

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