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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

    Microsoft open sources WorldWide Telescope


    We are incredibly pleased to announce that the WorldWide Telescope is now open source under the MIT license and has become an independent project as part of the .NET Foundation.

    WorldWide Telescope began in 2007 as a Microsoft Research project, with early partners including astronomers and educators from Caltech, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, the University of Chicago and several NASA facilities. Over the past eight years, millions of people have downloaded and used WorldWide Telescope, coming to rely on its unified astronomical image and data environment for exploratory research, teaching and public outreach.

    WorldWide Telescope was designed with rich interactivity in mind. Guided Tours, which are especially popular among educators and astronomy enthusiasts, offer scripted paths through the 3D environment, enabling users to view and create media-rich interactive stories about anything from star formation to the discovery of the large-scale structure of the universe.

    Microsoft open sources WorldWide Telescope

    This year, we decided to make the WorldWide Telescope available under an open source license to allow any individual or organization to adapt and extend the functionality to meet any research or educational need.

    We believe that extensions and improvements to the software will continuously enhance formal and informal learning and astronomical research. Making the code available will also help ensure that the data, protocols and techniques used are also available for others to inspect, use, adapt and improve upon in their own applications. Ultimately, open sourcing WorldWide Telescope will also allow the wider community to guide and participate future in future development efforts such that it evolves to meet the needs of future users.

    “As a long-term collaborator, user and proponent of WorldWide Telescope, releasing it as open source is a natural and significant next step for the project. Educators, students and researchers now have the ability to directly influence and contribute to the future development and potential of this unique tool.”

    Alyssa Goodman, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    WorldWide Telescope is written in .NET and the code is available now at This release brings a deep and complex open source .NET project to the astronomical community, while representing a substantial extension of the projects within the .NET Foundation.

    Many, many people dedicated themselves to making this release happen—too many to list here, but to all those who helped, we thank you!

    We encourage you to follow future conversations and developments regarding WorldWide Telescope on Twitter and Facebook.

    Jonathan Fay, Principal Software Development Engineer, Microsoft Research
    Michael Zyskowski, Engineer Manager, Microsoft Research
    Jim Pinkelman, Senior Director, Microsoft Research

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  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Explore advances in artificial intelligence—and much more


    Tune in to the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit

    On July 8–9, more than 350 academic researchers and educators will join Microsoft researchers and engineers for the sixteenth annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in Redmond, Washington. The annual Faculty Summit is one of those rare events that brings together a cross-disciplinary collection of academic and industry talent, focused on both advancing the state of the art in computer science and using computing to solve real-world problems. And while attendance at the in-person event is by invitation only, anyone with an Internet connection can catch key portions of the summit at the online event page.   

    Our live coverage will include the opening day keynote address by Jeannette Wing, corporate VP at Microsoft Research, who was recently honored by the Association for Computing Machinery for transforming the way the world views computing with her seminal views on computational thinking. She will focus on future trends in computing and give us a keen understanding of the innovation that starts with basic scientific research.

    High on this year’s list of topics is artificial intelligence. Not too long ago, AI was the stuff of science fiction. Today, it’s moving from the research lab to everyday reality. Also on day one of the summit, online viewers will be treated to a panel discussion on “Progress in AI: Myths, Realities, and Aspirations,” moderated by Eric Horvitz of Microsoft Research and featuring panelists Chris Bishop of Microsoft Research, Oren Etzioni of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Fei-Fei Li of Stanford University, Michael Littman of Brown University and Josh Tenenbaum of MIT.

    On day two, our webcast will feature Monica Lam, professor of Computer Science at Stanford University on A Revolution Against Big-Brother Social Networks,” which focuses on an open social movement led by Omlet, an open messaging service and distributed computing platform that spun out of four years of research at Stanford. We will also bring you the event’s closing keynote from Peter Lee, corporate VP at Microsoft Research.

    We hope as you watch these online webcasts that you will not only gain insights into the technological impact, but the scientific and societal implications of all these trends in computing.

    So fire up your web browser and tune in to the 2015 Faculty Summit.

    —Harold Javid, Director and General Chair of Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2015

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  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Top student research recognized at ACM banquet


    Students dream of attending major conferences, where they can present their work and interact with top researchers. For many, however, this dream remains just that, as funds for student attendance are in short supply. Microsoft Research receives many requests to fund conferences each year, and organizers continually tell us that their most pressing need is funding for student travel. We recognize that students are the next generation, ensuring the ongoing vitality of computer science and providing energy and new ideas.

    Students present their poster to experts at the SC14 conference.
    Students present their poster to experts at the SC14 conference.

    Recognizing the value of student participation, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) started a program in 2003 for student travel. The ACM Student Research Competition (SRC), sponsored by Microsoft Research, offers a unique forum for undergraduate and graduate students to present their original research before a panel of judges and attendees at well-known ACM-sponsored and co-sponsored conferences. The competition takes place at 26 participating conferences, including SuperComputing, CHI, SIGGRAPH, ICSE and the Grace Hopper Celebration, and it sponsors more than 200 students.

    Much more than just a travel funding program, the ACM SRC provides participants a chance to meet other students and to get direct feedback on their work from experts. Let’s hear it from the students themselves:

    Tharindu Rusira“ACM SRC was a premier opportunity to showcase our research to an audience of expert researchers. It is not only about science and research but about communication and presentation skills. It is an all-round experience that a student researcher should not miss.”

    —Tharindu Rusira, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka (CGO 2015)

    Snigdha Chaturvedi“Participating in SRC was a wonderful experience. It gave me an opportunity to interact and present my work to a broad and diverse audience not limited to my research field. It was fun!”

    —Snigdha Chaturvedi, University of Maryland (Grace Hopper Celebration 2014)

    Matthew Loring“The SRC was a very valuable and enjoyable experience. The insights I gained from judges and other attendees broadened my understanding of how the problems I worked on fit into the broader picture of the programming languages community. ”

    —Matthew Loring, Cornell University (PLDI 2014)

    Kyoungwon Seo“Presenting my research in the presence of other students and leading researchers was extraordinary. It gave me a perfect opportunity to practice pitching and defending my own research outcomes. Most of all, time with other students was really amazing!”

    —Kyoungwon Seo, Hanyang University, Korea (CHI 2014)

    2015 ACM Student Research Competition finalists with ACM President Alex Wolf, Director of Microsoft Research Outreach P. Anandan and ACM CEO John White
    2015 ACM Student Research Competition finalists with ACM President Alex Wolf, Director of Microsoft Research Outreach P. Anandan and ACM CEO John White

    This year’s banquet took place on Saturday June 20 in San Francisco. The six finalists are listed below, with links to their winning papers:

    Graduate category

    Undergraduate category

    The judges had a hard time ranking these papers, as all were of excellent quality. Moreover, many of them had special significance to us. For example, Lu Xiao’s paper, "Detecting and Preventing the Architectural Roots of Bugs," treats a topic much on the minds of people at a company like Microsoft. Likewise, Shannon Lubetich’s paper, "Eve Eat Dust Mop: Measuring Syntactic Development in Child Language with Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning," centered on machine—and childhood—learning, areas of intense interest to researchers both in academia and industry.

    We congratulate the winning students who have achieved much in getting to the top of the competition. We also thank the organizers and judges, who make the experience so worthwhile each year. We are proud to be associated with this program, which changes the lives of so many.

    Judith Bishop, Director of Computer Science, Microsoft Research; Laurie Williams, Professor and Acting Department Head, North Carolina State University Department of Computer Science

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