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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

    Information at Your Programming Fingertips


    Information at Your Programming FingertipsA growing trend in both the theory and practice of programming is the interaction with rich information spaces. This trend derives from the ever-increasing need to integrate programming with large, heterogeneous, connected, richly structured, streaming, evolving, or probabilistic information sources—be they databases, web services, or large‐scale, cloud‐based data analyses. However, as the complexity of programs and information structures increases, the coupling between the two is far from seamless, requiring many manual programming and modeling efforts. These manual processes often lead to brittle programs and thwart the easy application of novel compiler technologies and novel information mastering methods.

    Fortunately, the Semantic Web provides rich means for ad‐hoc information structuring with querying and type-inference possibilities, while novel programming languages, like LINQ and F#, lower the entry bar to the information-rich world for the developer. In addition, innovative information mastering methods, such as Hadoop and Dryad, are frequently positioned as functional paradigms, and huge potential exists to combine information‐rich sources with both scalable and traditional programming models.

    These approaches were on display this May at the Spring Mindswap in St. Goar, Germany, where researchers from around the world examined information spaces from the perspective of programming, looking for fresh insights into the promise and challenges of the design and applicability of the Semantic Web and new data-representation techniques. This workshop described the state of the art, elucidated the challenges that are required to bridge the gap between current information management and current programming language technology, and delineated concrete ways by which providers of information spaces can better serve the needs of programming languages, and vice‐versa. Of particular interest were the breakout sessions on three critical issues: (1) the handling of data versus schema, (2) the effect of information-rich programming on types in programming languages, and (3) the need to consider data quality. We would like to extend our thanks to Professor Steffen Staab of the University of Koblenz-Landau, who was the primary organizer of the Spring Mindswap.

    Now, we want to invite the community to extend these discussions at the First Workshop on Programming the Semantic Web, which will be offered as part of the International Semantic Web Conference in Boston this November. In particular, we invite the submission of papers that discuss and promote the programming facet of the Semantic Web. Abstracts should be submitted by July 24, with papers due by July 31; further submission information can be found on the workshop website.

    Evelyne Viegas, Director of Semantic Computing, Microsoft Research, and Don Syme, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research Cambridge

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  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Tune in to the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2012


     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.

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    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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  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Seventh Cambridge PhD Summer School: the Biggest and Busiest Yet


    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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