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On Monday, March 18, 2013, Microsoft rolled out the latest release of the Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK). This represents the largest update to the technology since the SDK was first commercially released in February last year, and it includes the Kinect Fusion technology that originated in Microsoft Research.
Kinect Fusion, an implementation of Microsoft Research’s 3-D surface reconstruction technology, can create highly accurate 3-D renderings of people and objects in real time.
The new release has a number of features that will benefit the academic and research community:
Another helpful development: earlier this month, Kinect for Windows announced broader availability of academic pricing through Microsoft Authorized Educational Resellers (AERs). Most of these resellers can now offer academic pricing directly to educational institutions; academic researchers; and students, faculty, and staff of public or private K-12 schools, vocational schools, junior colleges, colleges, universities, and scientific or technical institutions. Academic pricing on the Kinect for Windows sensor is currently available through AERs in the United States, Taiwan, and Hong Kong SAR. We eagerly look forward to a seeing what the academic community does with the new features!
—Stewart Tansley, Director, Microsoft Research Connections—Kenji Takeda, Solutions Architect and Technical Manager, Microsoft Research Connections EMEA
Each year, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) presents the A.M. Turing Award, widely considered the “Nobel Prize of computer science.” As ACM’s European chairman, I had the privilege of signing an agreement that will extend the influence of Turing Award recipients in the years ahead. The agreement established the Heidelberg Laureate Forum, which will bring together Turing Award recipients and winners of the Abel Prize and Fields Medal, regarded as the most prestigious honors in mathematics, for an annual meeting with a select group of highly talented young researchers.
The agreement about the establishment of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum was signed by the parties involved at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on May 22, 2012. Pictured left to right, seated: Dr. Fabrizio Gagliardi, Professor Ingrid Daubechies, and Professor Øivind Andersen. Standing: Professor Nils Chr. Stenseth, Dr. Klaus Tschira, and H.E. Germany Ambassador Detlev Rünger. (Photo: Eirik Furu Baardsen)
The first meeting of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum will take place in September 2013, and it promises to be a stimulating venue for new ideas. As Klaus Tschira, the head of the eponymous Klaus Tschira Foundation (one of the organizations behind the forum) has observed, “Meeting with the scientific leaders of mathematics and computer science will be extremely inspiring and encouraging for the young scientists.”
I’m very enthusiastic about this new forum because the relationships and interactions that can develop among the participants will benefit both the new generation of researchers and ACM Turing recipients. They will have the ability to share ideas, insights, and experiences through formal sessions and informal discussions, which are essential elements in the collaboration process that sustains research in computing science.
Microsoft Research is proud of our long-time links with ACM and of the many Microsoft researchers who are ACM fellows and award recipients. We are excited about the new forum and look forward to working with ACM and other organizations to promote the next generation of computer scientists.
—Fabrizio Gagliardi, Director, Microsoft Research Connections EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa)
Performance, architecture, execution, bugs, and programs: these words are heard time and again in the context of a major computer science conference. So it was in Beijing this month at PLDI 2012, the conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation. Terminology and accompanying innovative ideas flew fast and furious as 600 academics, researchers from industry, and students gathered to discuss the latest advances in this fundamental field. PLDI is organized by ACM SIGPLAN (the Association of Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Programming Languages).
Pictured from left to right: Lolan Song, Feng Zhao, Jan Vitek, Haibo Lin, and Judith Bishop
Although this was the thirty-third PLDI conference, it was the first to be held in Asia. Microsoft Research was proud to be the Gold Sponsor of the conference, and to celebrate the occasion, we organized a special open house to introduce participants to the work that goes on in our labs. Dr. Feng Zhao welcomed visitors to the beautiful Microsoft Research Asia lab with an overview of the work of the Beijing-based facility. The participants were then invited to a “DemoFest,” where 14 projects were on display: 13 from Microsoft Research labs around the world, and one from Tsinghua University. Many of these demos showcased the latest ideas about concurrency and the cloud, as well as the benefits of program analysis. There were also several projects illustrating end-user programming, such as TouchDevelop from Redmond and ClippyScript from Asia. See the full list of demos.
With hundreds of computer science academics and students gathered together, PLDI presented a great opportunity to engage in discussion of the hands-on work of writing the compilers and creating the tools that make today’s glitzy devices and snazzy apps possible. Modern platforms and applications demand highly sophisticated optimizing compilers and analysis tools, and the advent of new processor technologies, such as multiple cores, GPUs, and mobile platforms, along with the increasing sophistication of development tools, all require mastery of cutting-edge compiler and code generation technologies. PLDI was the ideal place to connect with students who are drawn to such computer science specialties as hardware specific optimizations, whole program analysis, profile framework and profile driven optimization, working set optimization, static alias analysis, optimized code debugging, incremental re-compilation, register allocation, code security, or SIMD and GPU code generation, vectorization, and parallelization.
Sriram Rajamani explains his poster.
Aside from presenting demos and connecting with friends old and new, Microsoft Research personnel also presented six papers and a tutorial that exemplify the high quality of our research. In addition, Microsoft researcher Rustan Leino and his colleagues were honored for having presented the most influential paper 10 years ago at PLDI 2002. That paper marked a turning point in the field of static checking, describing pragmatic design decisions that promote practicality over completeness. The techniques are now also widely used in various forms in Microsoft’s development tools—notably as part of Code Contracts, which ships with Microsoft Visual Studio.
I greatly appreciated the assistance of our colleagues at Microsoft Research Asia in handling all of the local logistics, especially Lolan Song's team, as well as Stewart Tansley from my team.
With so much science in my head, a quiet walk out to the Beijing’s Olympic Park was a great way to unwind. Beijing and PLDI certainly have a lot to offer!
—Judith Bishop, Director of Computer Science, Microsoft Research Connections