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Big data took center stage at the fifth Microsoft Research Asia Joint Labs Symposium, held on November 2, 2013, in Hefei, China. Gathering under the theme of “Research Collaborations in the Big Data Era,” more than 50 faculty and graduate students, representing 10 labs, joined more than 20 Microsoft researchers to discuss the future of data-intensive science.
The fifth Joint Labs Symposium featured a lively panel discussion about collaborations in the era of big data.
The symposium is just one of many activities of the Microsoft Research Asia Joint Lab Program (JLP). Since its founding in 1999, the JLP has facilitated comprehensive cooperation between Microsoft Research and faculty and students at leading Chinese research universities. The program promotes joint research, advances academic exchange, and fosters talent development. Microsoft Research Asia has established 10 joint labs, eight of which have been named “Key Laboratories” by the Chinese Ministry of Education, a designation that allows them to compete for government funds. To date, the JLP has completed more than 200 joint projects and given rise to over 1,000 academic papers. Equally important, more than 1,000 students have participated in JLP, fueling a robust talent pipeline.
The fifth Joint Labs Symposium brought together key faculty and students from all 10 joint labs and provided a forum to showcase achievements, enhance scientific research, and cultivate high-caliber talent. The day’s events were broken into three segments. The first focused on urban informatics empowered by big data. The second centered on the role of cloud computing in the analysis of big data. The third featured a lively panel discussion about collaborations in the era of big data—a spirited dialogue that delved into a host of issues, including the potential of cloud services for research; the sharing of data, algorithms, tools, and even research stacks via virtual machines; and issues of data privacy.
The symposium highlighted the importance that Microsoft Research places on collaboration with major academic institutions. We look forward to another year of fruitful cooperation, as we advance together into the realm of data-intensive research.
—Kangping Liu, Senior University Relations Manager, Microsoft Research Connections Asia
I would like to invite you to participate in the new Windows Azure for Research social media sites on LinkedIn and Twitter. These are where you’ll find information on Microsoft Research Connections’ initiative for helping the worldwide research community take advantage of cloud computing’s computational power, scalability, and cost-savings.
At the Windows Azure for Research LinkedIn group page, you can connect with researchers and domain experts who are exploring the myriad possibilities for using Windows Azure for data-intensive research. This group intends to foster conversations on getting started in the cloud and to provide a venue for discussing potential uses, for networking with other researchers, and for staying informed on the Windows Azure resources—such as training, technical curriculum, research grants, and community engagement—that Microsoft Research offers. It’s an excellent forum to connect with researchers and cloud-computing industry leaders to help build awareness of the benefits of using Windows Azure in scientific investigations. In addition, you can easily share the LinkedIn page with your peers by copying the group page URL and pasting it into your status update box on LinkedIn or Facebook.
You can also to follow us on Twitter at @Azure4Research, using the hashtag #azureresearch. Here you’ll find useful information about upcoming training events and webinars, as well as links to Windows Azure tips and tricks for researchers.
—Dan Fay, Director for Earth, Energy, and Environment, Microsoft Research Connections
These have been impressive days for European research, highlighted by last year’s discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN and this year’s publication of the fifth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Both are stunning examples of thousands of researchers collaborating to push the boundaries of data-intensive science. But whether you’re part of a team in one of the world’s biggest research facilities or an individual working alone in a university lab, today’s research challenge remains largely the same: more data, more analysis, less time.
Cloud computing can really help researchers resolve the issue of big data and focus on accelerating research breakthroughs and insights. That’s why we’re excited to announce the free, three-part Windows Azure for Research webinar series we are offering starting 20 November. These one-hour, interactive online sessions will bring cloud computing to life, explaining what it is, why it is so useful, and how to use it for your research in practical ways. We’re looking forward to answering your questions live during the sessions, so please join me online to explore:
Also, we’re bringing our Windows Azure for Research program to Europe and Africa. This week (11–15 November), around 100 researchers will converge on ETH Zurich and the Microsoft Research-INRIA Joint Research Centre near Paris for hands-on training on how to use Windows Azure—Microsoft’s cloud-computing platform—to simplify their data-intensive work. These two-day courses (11–12 November at ETH Zurich; 14–15 November at the Joint Centre) cover everything from Linux virtual machines, IPython, scaling out R and MATLAB calculations, cloud storage, sensor data processing, and, of course, big data processing. We’re delighted to offer several more courses across Europe and Africa over the next few weeks. Sign up now to secure your place and get hands-on experience developing and deploying your research applications in the cloud:
In addition to the trainings, we’re offering substantial allocations of Windows Azure storage and compute resources for selected proposals through the Windows Azure Research Awards Program. (Learn more about the awards.) We’re currently working with dozens of research teams across the world who responded to the first RFP, including European researchers from the British Library, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Pantheon-Sorbonne University, Politecnico di Milano, Freiburg University, University College London, Newcastle University, INRIA, Vavilov Institute of General Genetics Russian Academy of Science, and the University of St Andrews. We’re excited to have a range of projects, from bioinformatics and environmental science to image processing and Science 2.0.
We can’t wait to meet you, in person or online, so we can work together to help you take advantage of the cloud to make your research easier, faster, and more scalable. Please join the discussion on our Windows Azure for Research LinkedIn Group and on Twitter via @azure4research and we encourage you to use #azureresearch for all postings.
—Kenji Takeda, Solutions Architect and Technical Manager, Microsoft Research Connections EMEA