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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

    Exploring the frontiers of computing


    The sun shone brightly in Redmond yesterday, matching the intensity of 600 experts—each anticipating the sharing and acquisition of computing research knowledge—gathered in the Microsoft Conference Center for day one of the 2015 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit. These days, it is common for most audiences to half listen, heads down, focused on their tablets and smartphones—the very devices that have emanated from their collective labors. I was comforted to see that this was not the case during the keynotes, panel discussions, and topic breakout sessions that filled the day.

    P. Anandan, managing director of Microsoft Research, kicks off the 2015 Faculty Summit
    P. Anandan, managing director of Microsoft Research, kicked off the 2015 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit.

    Diversity is the word that comes to mind as I look back over the first day of the event. Diversity in that the participants represent the full breadth of computing disciplines, coming from more than 120 institutions and 20 countries, and that they discussed a wide range of topics: from Internet governance to application design, the past and future of AI and the role of open source in research.

    More importantly to me, diversity in the human sense received full attention in the session, "How to Attract More Diverse Researchers". The panel initiated a candid discussion on disabilities, ethnic and gender diversity in computer science and computer engineering departments. The panel presented some sobering numbers on how far we are from addressing this issue. The challenges are clear, as industry and academia have a distinct role in promoting greater diversity.

    Jeannette Wing, corporate VP of Microsoft Research, presented the opening keynote, "Microsoft’s Unique Role in the Computing Research Ecosystem"

    Diversity was complimented by breadth, as we reached out to the entire world of computer scientists and enthusiasts with live streaming of some of the day’s key events. The live webcast kicked off with the opening keynote, in which Jeanette Wing, corporate VP of Microsoft Research, echoed a theme that has been central to every Microsoft Research Faculty Summit (this is our sixteenth annual summit, by the way): the importance of research collaboration with academia to Microsoft.

    This was supported by new opportunities for academia, which Jeannette announced:

    • The Microsoft HoloLens Academic RFP will award five (5) awards consisting of US$100,000 and two HoloLens. All awards are in the form of unrestricted gifts. For full details, visit
    • Access this fall to Catapult equipped datacenters, made possible through our partnership with the Texas Advance Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas, Austin. Additionally, we are providing the academic community the ability to conduct hardware research on the field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) through our partnerships with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich).

    Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research, moderated the panel, Progress in AI: Myths, Realities, and Aspirations
    Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research, moderated the panel, "Progress in AI: Myths, Realities, and Aspirations." The panelists, from left to right, included Josh Tenenbaum, Michael Littman, Fei-Fei Li, Oren Etzioni, and Christopher Bishop.

    Following the opening keynote, we were treated to a series of presentations related to artificial intelligence (AI) research: past, present and future. This began with a plenary panel discussion, streamed live, on AI’s myths, realities and aspirations—a discussion that made it clear that while we have advanced a long way since our initial explorations into AI, we’ve also opened up new horizons that will provide rich challenges for many generations of researchers. I will let you decide for yourself, as the panel discussion and Jeanette Wing’s keynote are already available on demand.

    Today will be another full day of exploring the latest research trends in computing. We are again streaming important portions of the day’s events, starting with a keynote from Monica Lam, professor of computer science at Stanford University. Lam’s keynote, “A Revolution against Big-Brother Social Networks,” discusses her work with Omlet, an open messaging service and distributed computing platform that has been distributed to millions of phones.

    Later in the day, we will stream the Faculty Summit’s closing keynote from Peter Lee, corporate VP at Microsoft Research. His talk will explore the nature of research, with an emphasis on the importance of collaboration and the role of innovation.

    I hope you’ll join us online.

    Harold Javid, Director of Academic Outreach, Microsoft Research

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  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    The 2015 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit breaks records


    Walking into the Microsoft Conference Center this morning, I could feel the excitement in the air as 600 academics and researchers started meeting up for the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in Redmond, Washington. High on the agenda of this, our sixteenth annual Faculty Summit, are keynotes by top researchers and executives at Microsoft, and we are delighted to announce that these will be streamed live over the course of two days. Also to be streamed is “Progress in AI: Myths, Realities, and Aspirations,” a panel discussion on the past, present and future of artificial intelligence, led by Eric Horvitz, managing director and distinguished scientist at Microsoft Research Redmond.

    Keynotes by top researchers and executives at Microsoft will be streamed live over the course of two days.
    Keynotes by top researchers and executives at Microsoft will be streamed live over the course of two days.

    Then it is into the summit’s four topic tracks, with 70 top speakers from around the world, a record for this event. Broadly speaking, the tracks cover artificial intelligence, devices, society and software, offering something for everyone throughout the day. As one of the program chairs, I am always heartened at the enthusiasm and expertise brought to the summit by Microsoft researchers and the academics, who make up half the speakers. We know we are going to be transported into the future when Session Chair Krysta Svore and speakers from MIT, ETHZ and Microsoft explore “What Can We Solve with a Quantum Computer?” or when Jaron Lanier's panel session examines the potential of Microsoft HoloLens in “The Holoscene: Virtual and Mixed Reality.” Then we will be back squarely in the present, when Bill Buxton and Jeff Han lead a group exploring “Digital Ink and Touch on NextGen Devices,” no doubt with special reference to Microsoft’s new large touch device, the Surface Hub. A session I won’t want to miss is “Design Verification: Treating Networks Like Programs or Chips,” which deftly pairs up software engineering and networking experts from Cornell, Princeton, the Naval Postgraduate School and Microsoft.

    There are many other interesting sessions, and of course one cannot attend them all, so I am glad that all sessions will be available to view online after the event.

    This year's Research Showcase will feature a record-breaking 47 demos and information booths.
    This year's Research Showcase will feature a record-breaking 47 demos
    and information booths.

    Meanwhile, as at any large event, people are mingling and networking and sounding out potential collaborations. Academics are always keen to know how to best collaborate with us and take advantage of every opportunity; to that end, the Research Showcase on day two of the summit will include booths devoted to our latest announcements and our flagship programs, such as internships and scholarships. And speaking of this year’s showcase, it’s another summit record—we have 47 demos and information booths—and they are all linked online, so you can find out about them, even if you cannot attend.

    And whether you’re at the event or not, be sure to check out Microsoft’s open source projects for academics and free data science datasets for use in your research.

    For now, it is into the fray, and over to the live streaming!

    Judith Bishop, Director of Computing at Microsoft Research and Co-chair of the 2015 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit

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  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Academics invited to create new Microsoft HoloLens experiences


    We are pleased to announce the Microsoft HoloLens Academic Research request for proposals (RFP), which will enable the academic community to join us in advancing the creation of new holographic computing experiences. The Microsoft HoloLens Academic RFP will award US$100,000 and two HoloLens development kits to academic institutions. Learn more about the RFP.

    How would you use Microsoft HoloLens?

    It has been exciting to see the public response to HoloLens—the world’s first fully untethered holographic computer, powered by Windows 10. There’s been palpable excitement at the prospect of mixing holograms with the real world to unlock all-new ways to create, communicate, work and play.

    Case Western Reserve University is exploring how HoloLens can transform learning across countless subjects, including those as complex as the human body.

    This emerging technology teems with opportunity, so we’ve issued this RFP to inspire the academic community to investigate the potential roles and applications for holographic computing in society. Additionally, we want to stimulate and advance academic research in mixed reality and encourage exploration of new possibilities in holographic computing. We expect that researchers will envision novel ways of using HoloLens—from interactively teaching students, to creating mixed-realty art installations, to manipulating holographic data to reveal new relationships…to who knows what.

    HoloLens is already making an impact across a variety of industries—from academia to architecture and construction. As a result, we invite proposals from any field. We welcome research that uses HoloLens to help solve difficult problems and contribute new insights in any domain—data visualization; pedagogy in STEM, medical and design education; communication and distributed collaboration; interactive art and experimental media; and psychology-related applications, including human-computer interactions.

    Join us on July 8 at 8:30 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time for our Faculty Summit keynote live webcast, when we will demonstrate more ways that HoloLens is helping people create, learn, communicate, collaborate, work and play. Request for proposal details are available at Please note that the application deadline is September 5, 2015.

    Jeannette Wing, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research

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