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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

    Advancing Creative Research and Talent Development in Korea

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    Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) recently announced that Microsoft Research Asia will once again be a key partner in the Information Technology Software Creative Research Program, which provides support to world-class researchers in that country. MKE plans to provide matching funds in the amount of five times the expenditures of Microsoft Research Asia (in other words, the ministry provides $5 for every $1 spent by Microsoft Research Asia) on collaborative research projects that are conducted by Korean academia.

     “The collaboration with the Ministry of Knowledge Economy of Korea is a significant milestone in creating opportunities for universities to experience world-class research, discover potential talent, and accelerate innovation,” said Hsiao-Wuen Hon, Microsoft Research Asia managing director. “Microsoft Research Asia is committed to providing continuous support for Korean universities and government programs as a driving force in strengthening Korea’s IT competitiveness.”

    Sixty Korean academics attended Korean Day on July 3, 2012,
    Sixty Korean academics attended Korean Day on July 3, 2012,
    at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, China

    As part of the program, Microsoft Research Asia offers internships to graduate-level students at its state-of-the-art facilities in Beijing, China. By providing the opportunity to participate in practical research, the internships help participating students improve their professional skills and increase their knowledge. During the first program, which started in September 2010, a total of 10 graduate students were awarded six-month internships at Microsoft Research Asia. Of those 10 students, five went on to participate in a 12-week summer internship program at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington.

    “The internship program allowed me to experience and learn the research trends and techniques used at a global company,” said Hyunsun Seo, a 2011 Microsoft Research Asia fellowship winner and intern at Microsoft Research Asia and Redmond. “I used to presume research would be conducted in a manner similar to what I’ve done in school. Now, I have a clear picture about the similarities and differences. This insight will be hugely beneficial and will offer me a distinct edge as I plan my career path after graduation.”

    The program has already produced a number of success stories. In its second year, 24 projects were selected out of 54 proposals for research related to topics such as hardware computing, human computing interaction, Internet graphics, Internet media, information retrieval and mining, media computing, wireless and networking, web retrieval and mining, web intelligence, web data management, system, speech recognition, theory, machine learning, and innovative engineering.

    The students’ work was on display during the Korean Day event held on July 3 at the Microsoft Research Asia facilities in Beijing, China. Among those attending were 60 Korean academics, including faculty members and students.

    Miran Lee, Senior University Relations Manager, Microsoft Research Asia

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    David Breashears Brings the Himalayan Region to Life

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    The participants in the 2012 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit gained new appreciation for the changes facing the globe as David Breashears navigated the massive archive of photographic data that his team has gathered in many climbs through the Himalaya Mountains. We came away with a vivid understanding of how far glaciers have retreated in these mountains over the past 100 years.

    Who better than David Breashears to bring the story to life through the means of computing? Filmmaker, adventurer, and mountaineer David Breashears has brought nature to life on film for more than 30 years. He is also the founder and executive director of GlacierWorks.

    Archival photos and GlacierWorks imagery of the Himalaya Mountains demonstrate the impact that climate change is having on the glaciers and river systems of Asia.
    Archival photos and GlacierWorks imagery of the Himalaya Mountains demonstrate the impact that climate change is having on the glaciers and river systems of Asia.

    David lives a life of adventure most of us only dream about. He has led more than 40 expeditions to the Himalayan region and worked on dozens of documentary film projects since 1979. David has reached the summit of Mount Everest five times! He was also producer, director, and expedition leader for Everest, one of the most successful IMAX films ever made. He has led, and continues to lead, a fascinating life.

    David’s keynote focused on his work with GlacierWorks, a non-profit organization that uses art and science to vividly document how the Himalayan glaciers are changing before our very eyes. The Himalaya Mountains are home to some of the world’s most beautiful peaks and thousands of high-altitude glaciers. The glaciers provide seasonal water flows to rivers throughout Asia. These precious flows have been disappearing at an alarming rate, however.

    Since 2007, GlacierWorks teams have embarked on 10 expeditions, each carefully retracing the steps of early mountain photographers. Meticulously captured images match their predecessors’ work. Comparing the images, GlacierWorks identified an alarming loss of ice in the region.

    David and his team are building a resource to share their information with students. They have been collaborating with Microsoft Research to create an immersive Internet experience that enables a richer interaction with GlacierWorks’ massive photographic database. At the heart of this collaboration is Rich Interactive Narratives (RIN). RIN combines traditional forms of storytelling with new visualization technologies to create compelling interactive digital narratives.

    For the Himalayas project, the team is combining archival media and GlacierWorks imagery to demonstrate the impact that climate change is having on the glaciers and river systems of Asia. The team is hopeful that an engaging and educational interactive experience will appeal to today’s students, and inspire them to investigate climate change further.

    We have made David Breashears' keynote available online. I encourage you to view this incredible presentation for yourself. You can also find more information about Breashears and his work through these resources:

    Harold Javid, Director, The Americas, Microsoft Research Connections

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    A Time(line) for Reflection

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    AIDS. Like many people, I was aware of the disease but had only a basic understanding of the history and impact of the AIDS pandemic. That all changed for me, thanks to my involvement in the AIDS Quilt Project. My name is Madison Allen, and I’m a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. I got involved with the AIDS Quilt through my work on ChronoZoom, an ambitious tool that strives to tell the history of everything—from the moment of the Big Bang until now—on a zoomable timeline.

    ChronoZoom - A 30 Year History of AIDS

    When Roland Saekow, one of the original developers of ChronoZoom, first sent out a proposal for a history of AIDS timeline (as suggested to him by Donald Brinkman and Rane Johnson at Microsoft Research), I was immediately intrigued. I contacted Roland and, after some initial background research, I quickly realized the importance of this project. Though I originally knew very little about the subject, I was eager to expand my knowledge and become part of such a worthy undertaking.

    Soon I was receiving data from Professor Anne Balsamo and graduate students Lauren Fenton and Rosemary Comella of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. As I began to input the data into the ChronoZoom AIDS timeline, I started to understand the far-reaching potential of this project.

    The greatest challenge was deciding what to include in the timeline—there is such a wealth of information on the history of both AIDS and the quilt itself. We wanted to include much more, but given the project’s time restrictions, we were forced to make difficult decisions. It was also a challenge to represent the historical facts while simultaneously stressing the tragic personal effect that AIDS has had on millions of people. Striking a balance among the personal, medical, historical, and political aspects of AIDS was extremely challenging, as each aspect adds its own unique part to the incredibly complex history of AIDS. Working with such a heart-wrenching topic was also sobering for me.

    I hope this timeline will convey the sweeping impact of AIDS. No part of the world, no gender, no community has gone untouched. Countless lives have been devastated by both the disease and the stigma that has long been associated with it. I was shocked to discover that nearly as many lives have been destroyed by discrimination as by the actual illness. I hope that people will take the information in the timeline and use it to work actively in promoting a more accepting environment for those afflicted with AIDS. I also hope that there will be renewed and reinvigorated efforts to find a cure and to distribute medicine to those who desperately need it but cannot afford it. Around the world, so many people suffer from lack of medicine and care. This week’s display of the AIDS Quilt in its entirety in Washington, D.C., will, I hope, send a message that is heard around the world—a clarion call to remedy the current situation.

    The ChronoZoom technology brings the timeline to life, allowing people to see the interwoven histories of AIDS and the AIDS Quilt side by side, while also placing the disease in the greater context of human history. It gives people the unique opportunity to learn about AIDS through different media and from different viewpoints. The incredible deep zoom function even allows people to view the quilt in its entirety at specific moments in history, illustrating the growth of the quilt and the continuing onslaught of AIDS. In the future, we hope to include additional unique interviews and stories to further demonstrate the impact of AIDS on a more personal level.

    This project has been an incredible learning experience for me. Prior to working on the timeline, my understanding of AIDS and its worldwide impact was incomplete, to say the least. Though my knowledge is far from complete now, I have begun to grasp the complex and tragic effect that AIDS has had on millions. More than just a disease, AIDS is a lifelong battle for both health and acceptance. I feel so honored to have participated in this project and hope it will increase awareness about AIDS and, by so doing, foster greater acceptance and promote efforts toward finding a cure. The timeline, like the quilt, will serve as a reminder of and tribute to all those who have fallen victim to the devastation of AIDS and will provide hope for an AIDS-free future.
     
    Madison Allen, guest blogger

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