At a recent event at Microsoft Research Cambridge, a number of demos stood out. They address big problems and use new technology to solve them. Their relevance to public sector and business IT problems is obvious but they also have the potential to help change the world.

  • Big data to big decisions. This unnamed prototype lets non-experts visualise complex models backed by big data. For example, it can model the impact of climate change on global wheat yields in three minutes. When data, models and visualisation are joined up, users find it easier to turn information into understanding. This is obviously useful in a range of business applications.
     
  • Crowd IQ. Human computation and crowdsourcing are new paradigms for leveraging the intelligence of groups of people to solve problems. Techniques based on these paradigms are used by Microsoft in services including Bing search, advertising, and Xbox Live Marketplace recommendations. This demo shows a new approach for measuring crowd intelligence and aggregating responses.
  • The Madingly Model. This project encodes biological processes into mathematical models to simulate different alternative futures and help governments, companies and individuals manage the environment better. Operating on a global scale and simulating every single living (multi-cellular) organism on Earth. It’s an astonishingly ambitious simulation project.
     
  • Rhea. This Azure service accelerates Hadoop jobs by reducing the amount of data that is transferred from storage to compute clusters, cutting network overheads by a factor of five and speeding up processing up time. While this looks like a bit of ‘back-room’ technology, anything that improves performance in large data centres has the ability to cut costs for users and, more importantly, reduce their demands for electricity and their CO2 output. 

To find out more about how Microsoft Research Cambridge is supporting innovation visit http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx

By Tim Cozze-Young
Microsoft UK Enterprise Team