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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

    Tune in to the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2012

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     Join us online for the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit

    What are the big challenges and hot trends in computer science research? How are the academic community and Microsoft Research working collaboratively to use computing to solve some of the world’s most intractable problems? On July 16 and 17, 400 elite academic investigators will explore these questions with Microsoft researchers during the annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in Redmond, Washington.

    But you don’t have to be in Redmond to benefit from this outstanding event. Selected keynotes and panel discussions will be streamed live from the Microsoft Conference Center, and engaging, informative live interviews with top researchers will be broadcast from Microsoft Studios. You can tune in to the live, streaming broadcasts from 9:00 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. Pacific Time (12:00 P.M. to 4:30 P.M. Eastern Time) on the Virtual Event page. And don’t miss the special closing keynote from David Breashears, “Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya,” on July 17 at 4:30 P.M. Pacific Time (7:30 P.M. Eastern Time).  

    Please join us as we explore trends in data-intensive, data-driven research—what we like to call “big data, big insights”—and as we probe the growing movement toward blending virtual and physical reality through advances in natural user interface. Learn about developments in social media, Internet governance, and the use of technology to combat criminal activity. And see how technology is impacting teaching and the creation of rich interactive narratives. What’s more, you can participate by tweeting your questions and comments during the live broadcasts by using the Twitter hashtag #FacSumm.

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    The Microsoft Research Faculty Summit is dedicated to expanding the boundaries of using technological development to solve real-world problems, whether social or scientific. From harnessing the power of data for analysis and insights, to algorithms for managing election data and detecting malware, to future digital homes and natural user interfaces, software is experiencing rapid change. The 2012 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit unites academic researchers, educators, and Microsoft researchers, product group engineers, and software architects to explore these and other new opportunities and challenges in computer science research—and you can be part of this exciting event via the live, streaming broadcasts.

    So mark your calendar and clean your display screen: the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2012 is headed to a device near you.

    Harold Javid, Director, The Americas, Microsoft Research Connections

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    Seventh Cambridge PhD Summer School: the Biggest and Busiest Yet

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    Participants from the seventh PhD Summer School in CambridgeAlmost 90 PhD students convened for the seventh PhD Summer School

    The first week of July was an exciting one for us here at Microsoft Research Cambridge, as we hosted the seventh PhD Summer School. Each year, we invite scholars in the Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Programme, as well as students from partnering universities and institutions, to join us in Cambridge, England, for a week of immersive research, technical talks, transferrable skills talks, poster sessions, and socializing.

    This year’s event was attended by almost 90 students from across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Attendees came from as far afield as Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, and from 14 European countries. Our Russian guests included the five winners of the Microsoft Research Computer Vision Contest. We also welcomed nine students from the EU-funded Marie Curie Initial Training Network TransForm, which partners with our Cambridge Systems and Networking group.

    Our school “curriculum” featured research talks covering the spectrum of work being done across our lab research groups. Topics included computational methods for planetary prediction, software verification, functional programming, datacenter performance, medical imaging, and crowdsourcing. Our technical talks covered Microsoft and Microsoft Research technologies including Kinect for Windows, .NET Gadgeteer, Microsoft Academic Search, F#, and cloud technologies.

    In addition to the technical discussions, we also spent some time focusing on personal development. This year’s talks included several Summer School classics such as “How to Write a Great Research Paper and Give a Great Talk” by Simon Peyton-Jones and “A Rough Guide to Being an Entrepreneur” by Jack Lang from the Judge Business School at Cambridge University. We also included some new talks in the mix, including discussions on “Strategic Thinking for Researchers” and “Intellectual Property at Microsoft.”

    PhD scholar Olle Fredriksson, from the University of Birmingham, explains his research to PhD student Janina Voigt, from the Cambridge Computer Lab. We weren’t the only presenters at this year’s Summer School. Our students displayed their research to dozens of Microsoft researchers during our three lunchtime poster sessions. 32 of our Microsoft PhD scholars, whose PhD studies are funded through Microsoft Research Connections, had the opportunity to meet with their Microsoft co-supervisors during this period as well.

    “[The students] really liked the poster session, especially the opportunity to get direct, one-to-one relevant feedback from Microsoft senior researchers,” said Jon Crowcroft, professor of Communications Systems in the Cambridge Computer Lab and PhD supervisor/advisor to some of the attending students.

    Summer intern Soorat Bhat presents his demo to PhD student Tatiana Novikova, from Moscow State University, during the DemoFest. Senior scientist Drew Purves presents in the background.Incentivized by the Alan Turing Centenary, we wanted to do something special this year, so we organized a networking event one afternoon. The afternoon began with a pair of keynote talks: “Can Computers Understand Their Own Programs?” by principal researcher and ACM Turing Award winner Sir Tony Hoare, and “The EDSAC Replica Project” by former Lab Director Andrew Herbert. The afternoon continued with a DemoFest, featuring Microsoft Research technologies and five winning projects from the Computer Vision Contest.

    We all enjoyed the week tremendously and wish the “class” of 2012 all the best. We already look forward to next year’s Summer School!

    Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections EMEA

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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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