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April, 2010

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.

April, 2010

  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Microsoft Web N-gram Services Now in Public Beta Worldwide

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    Late last year, Microsoft Research, in partnership with Bing, Microsoft's decision engine, introduced a private beta testing of Microsoft Web N-gram Services. The goal of Microsoft Web N-gram Services is to support research conducted using large data sets, particularly to engage the academic community in the area of data-driven research. This week, during the World Wide Web Conference (WWW2010), Microsoft Research and Bing will announce expanded access of the Microsoft Web N-gram Services beta to include professors and students at accredited colleges and universities worldwide.

    The technologies included in Microsoft Web N-gram Services have been noted for their ability to assist in writing applications specific to search, translation, and speech processing. One of the immediate scenarios made possible by the technology is the ability to understand misspelled words and ungrammatical sentences by using the power of the sheer volume of language data, for any natural language that has lots of data published on the web. From a development perspective, this reduces the need for experts to develop grammars for all languages; users who conduct searches or network on the Internet will be enabled to share information in free form with stronger understanding and clarity. This is made possible by using predictions to contextualize the initial words in the query.

    As the technology and corresponding development efforts advance, Microsoft Web N-gram Services are expected to provide an accurate, consistent user experience, such as helping people learn another language or search for information with queries that are spoken rather than typed.

    Microsoft Web N-gram Services will be demonstrated in the Microsoft booth during WWW2010.

    Call for Papers and Proposals

    The evolution of Microsoft Web N-gram Services is the result of ongoing collaboration. If you're passionate about advancing data-driven research, here are two upcoming opportunities to get involved:

    • The National Science Foundation has issued a call for proposals regarding Computing in the Cloud. Microsoft Web N-gram Services is part of theoffering made available.
    • Paper submissions have been requested by the Programme Committee of the Microsoft Web N-gram Workshop, to be held during the 33rd annual ACM SIGIR conference. The workshop, set for July 23, 2010, in Geneva, Switzerland, will bring together a group of leaders in information retrieval and language modeling to discuss and debate the challenges in their fields and the ways in which language-modeling approaches might help address them. Submissions are due June 11, and authors will be notified June 28.

    For those of you attending WWW2010, I look forward to meeting you. And for those of you planning to participate in the upcoming calls for papers and proposals, I'm eager to work with you.

    Evelyne Viegas, senior research program manager, Microsoft Research

  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Celebrating Earth Day 2010

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    This week marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which began as a way to not only honor the planet but to remind us to treat the Earth respectfully. Four decades later, thanks to the vision and dedication of those who established the very first Earth Day, it is now common to consider and question the impact we make on the Earth’s environment in our daily lives.

     

    At Microsoft Research, we strive to honor the principles of Earth Day every day. We are guided by our mission to collaborate with the global research community through research, education and innovation with the ultimate goal of improving lives for all of us on Earth. As scientists, having a deep understanding of the planet and its intricacies is critical to our life’s work. But as citizens, pursuing innovative ways to harness the power of technology and science in support of a healthy, thriving environment is beyond critical: it is essential.

     

    One way in which we appreciate the planet is to capture its essence in digital imagery for the purposes of both pleasure and research. Microsoft Research has enhanced the ability to easily display extremely large images using HD View. Developed by the Interactive Visual Media Group at Microsoft Research, HD View draws on technological advances to enable in-full, 360-degree fields of view. It also harnesses the power of current graphics hardware for smooth panning and zooming of images. Available as an Active X Web browser component, users of Microsoft Windows can use HD View to create content that can be easily shared and distributed via the Internet.

     

    In that spirit, in addition to providing tools that enhance our appreciation for the environment, in honor of Earth Day Microsoft is introducing a new online destination where people can learn how each and every one of us can be more mindful of sustainability throughout each and every day.

     

    To provide year-round inspiration and information on the collaborative discovery and scientific research underway, Microsoft Research invites you to visit two earth-friendly sites, Earth, Energy, and Environment and Microsoft Research and the Environment. Both sites offer easy and convenient access to news, feature stories and in-depth information about projects being undertaken throughout the global research community.

     

    Also drawing on the power of the Internet to facilitate change, Microsoft’s environmental site helps make every day an earth day.  In addition to a number of topical feature stories being published this week, the site also includes:

     

    · A series of video vignettes featuring discussions with  Microsoft executives about how their daily roles contribute to the company’s overall sustainability mission

    · Videos on Green IT at Microsoft

    · Daily tips on green topics

    · Personalized recommendations via Microsoft Hohm, a free, Web-based beta application designed to help people identify ways they can save energy and money

    · Other timely news and feature stories

     

    Finally, today is a perfect day to celebrate the advances we’ve made in treating the environment respectfully. Today is also the perfect day to revisit and renew our vow to make meaningful contributions to a sustainable future. In honor of the time-tested wisdom that you get out of it only what you put into it, on behalf of all of us at Microsoft Research and members of the Earth, Energy, and Environment team, happy Earth Day 2010, and many, many more.

     

    Dan Fay, director, Earth, Energy, and Environment, Microsoft Research

  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    The First U.S. National Robotics Week

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    This week sees the celebration of the first National Robotics Week in the US.

     

    Being one of the early advocates for Microsoft’s activities in robotics since late 2003, and as Microsoft Research’s representative (with Tandy Trower for Microsoft Robotics) in the Computing Community Consortium’s (CCC) efforts to create a “national road-map” for robotics technology, I’m thrilled to see the great momentum in both research and commercial robotics in the US and beyond. All of us at Microsoft Research wish great success to the participants and partners involved in the multitude of events across the country.

     

    From the National Robotics Week “About” page:

    National Robotics Week recognizes robotics technology as a pillar of 21st century American innovation, highlights its growing importance in a wide variety of application areas, and emphasizes its ability to inspire technology education. Robotics is positioned to fuel a broad array of next-generation products and applications in fields as diverse as manufacturing, health-care, national defense and security, agriculture and transportation. At the same time, robotics is proving to be uniquely adept at enabling students of all ages to learn important science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts and at inspiring them to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. During National Robotics Week, a week-long series of events and activities is aimed at increasing public awareness of the growing importance of “robo-technology” and the tremendous social and cultural impact that it will have on the future of the United States.

    National Robotics Week is a product of a 2009 effort by leading universities and companies to create a “national road-map” for robotics technology, which was initially unveiled at a May 2009 briefing by academic and industry leaders to the Congressional Caucus on Robotics. U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (PA-14), co-chair of the Caucus, and other members have submitted a formal resolution asking Congress to support the designation of the second full week in April as National Robotics Week.

     

     

    An IPRE personal robot used to help learn computer science 

     

    Some resources for those looking at Microsoft’s robotics and related activities:

     

    - Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio – a Windows-based environment for academic, hobbyist, and commercial developers to easily create robotics applications across a wide variety of hardware.

    - Human Robot Interaction Project Awards – a program of recent Microsoft Research academic collaborations to focus attention on the paradigm shift from "robots as tools" to "social robots”.

    - Situated Interaction – some of our ongoing in-house research related to social robotics and advanced “natural” human-computer interaction.

    - Institute For Personal Robots in Education (IPRE) – co-founded between Georgia Tech, Bryn Mawr College and Microsoft Research in 2006, IPRE applies and evaluates personal robots as a compelling context for computer science education and is now supported by NSF (National Science Foundation).

    - Computer Science Education Week (December 6-12, 2009) – an analogous and technically-related week of celebration and activities for aspiring computer scientists.

     

    Stewart Tansley, senior research program manager, Computer Science, Microsoft External Research 

     

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