Der deutsche Education Blog

March, 2011

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.

March, 2011

  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Building a Collaborative Research Relationship with the Chinese Academy of Sciences

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    I recently had the great pleasure of visiting with staff at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Beijing, China. CAS is China's leading academic institution and comprehensive research and development center in natural science, technological science, and high-tech innovation. The Asia-Pacific Microsoft Research Connections team has done a terrific job of establishing a relationship with CAS in recent years. That early groundwork paid off in many ways during my visit to the CAS in February.

    Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research Connections presents The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery.

    Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research Connections presents
    The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery.

    There are more than 100 institutes under CAS to focus on specific research areas. I visited the Computer Network Information Center (CNIC), which is a public institution that supports networks and information infrastructure for CAS. Professor Tieniu Tan, deputy secretary of CAS, and some researchers from different research institutes that are involved in the eScience program came to CNIC to host my visit. Among the topics we discussed were eScience-related projects and the Academic Cloud Program at Microsoft Research. I found the CAS team very welcoming and ready to share ideas. We will be building on that enthusiasm: as of February, CAS is a key Microsoft Research Connections partner for eScience in China.

    In addition to meeting one-on-one with CAS high-level staff, leading researchers, and executives, I had the pleasure of delivering my presentation, The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery. The audience included a diverse student body as well as faculty representing various research fields, such as chemistry, high-energy physics, biotechnology, geography, environment, database, computing, engineering, and automation.

    Although I was there to speak, I was also there to listen. One of my hosts, Professor Mingqi Chen, director of the Information Department of the CAS General Office, presented on cyber-infrastructure and eScience applications in CAS in three categories:

    The goal of the eScience program in CAS is to build an Open Science Cloud that serves CAS researchers and the broader scientific community. Professor Chen presented some typical eScience applications in CAS, including Galactic Wind Simulation, a real-time prediction of sandstorms system, and ChinaFLUX, which includes a large scientific facility, a field sensor-network real-time data-collection system, and an astronomical virtual laboratory.

    My visit ended on a positive note when another of my hosts, Professor Tieniu Tan, approached me to propose that we further our collaboration through a joint eScience workshop. This workshop will take advantage of the eScience experience and resources that both CAS and Microsoft Research have acquired through our past research work. We will meet again soon to work out the details of this next collaborative venture.

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    Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research Connections

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    Universities Partner with Scholarships for Aspirations Award Winners

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    There is a significant dearth of women working in—or even entering—the computer science field. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), only 18 percent of computer science degrees in 2008 were awarded to women. That was a dramatic drop from 37 percent in 1985. With those totals, it's not surprising that only 16 percent of Fortune 500 technology companies have female executives. Of greater concern is the small number of women who are applying for technology jobs, even during the economic downturn when jobs are scarce. NCWIT is working to reverse that trend.

    Winners at the event held at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center in Cambridge, MA

    Winners at the event held at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center in Cambridge, MA

    We are proud to be the primary financial supporter of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing, which honors young women at the high-school level for their computer-related achievements and interests. NCWIT offers both national and local "affiliate" competitions to generate support and visibility for women's participation in communities nationwide.

    National Award winners receive a US$500 cash prize; a laptop computer provided by Bank of America; a trip to attend the Bank of America Technology Showcase and Awards Ceremony in Charlotte, North Carolina; and an engraved award for both the student and the student's school. Affiliate Award winners receive an engraved award for their home and school, plus additional prizes from local sponsors.

    I'm pleased to announce that the academic community stepped up this year to offer scholarships to this year's NCWIT winners as well. There will be 19 Affiliate Award programs serving 20 states and U.S. territories in the 2010/2011 round. Schools expected to connect with our winners include:

    The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing is a promising avenue for reaching out to and encouraging young women with a budding interest in computer science. By nurturing this interest early, we are increasing the likelihood that these young women will pursue computer science degrees and one day join us as the next generation of world-class computer scientists.

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    —Jane Prey, Senior Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections division of Microsoft Research

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    Project Hawaii Students Get More Done in the Cloud: Announcing Speech to Text Service

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    Project HawaiiBack in January, I blogged about Project Hawaii, a research and academic outreach program sponsored by Microsoft Research in cooperation with 20 universities worldwide. Approximately 300 students at those universities are developing applications for Windows Phone 7 this semester as part of the program. These students have already come up with new and innovative scenarios by using our previously released Relay and Rendezvous services. Beginning today, they will have another cloud service in their development arsenal: a Speech to Text Service.

    This new cloud service will enable Project Hawaii participants to expand their applications with options such as diction, transcription, and voice commands. Students will also be able to use the new service to integrate other complex applications, such as Microsoft Translator, into their development projects. There is one limitation: Speech to Text currently supports English only. There are no plans to expand into other languages at this time.

    In addition to making this service available to our Project Hawaii students, we are also releasing sample code from an application for Windows Phone 7 as part of the software development kit (SDK). This sample will allow users to speak into a phone and get transcribed text of their words in return. Plus, we'll be releasing an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) service for our Hawaii participants to use in the near future.

    —Arjmand Samuel, Research Project Manager with the Microsoft Research Connections division of Microsoft Research

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