The Opening of Microsoft Research New England

Last week, Microsoft Research celebrated the opening of it’s newest lab – Microsoft Research New England with a day-long symposium at MIT on the intersection of computer science and the social sciences. You can now review the symposium individual sessions online.

There were some excellent content presented at the event including:

  • Computer Science Is Everywhere
    – Erik Demaine, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
  • Understanding Socio-Technical Phenomena in a Web 2.0 Era
    – Danah Boyd, Fellow, Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  • Designing Experience/The Experience of Design
    – Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research
  • The Changing Role of Research Universities and Industrial and National Laboratories in the 21st Century
    – Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University

Related links:

A week in the life of a Microsoft Research Asia University Relations Manager

John Warren (my manager) wrote an article about the life as a University Relations (UR) manager on Microsoft Research Asia web site. In the article, he describes about various UR programs, the multi-facets engagements and the challenges this role entails.

Inside the article he discussed about:

  • MSRA “theme projects”
  • Internal (Public Sector, Legal and Corporate Affairs) and external customers (from research institutions and sometimes government agencies)
  • The amount of legal agreement negotiation and review we undertake for each joint research projects (it’s not funny, trust me)
  • The reasons why he enjoys his role as a UR manager

If you are interested to get a snap shot of what I do, check out John’s article “A week in the life of a University Relations Manager

Microsoft Research Asia’s Role in China’s High Tech Human Capital Development

Last week, Zhou Minliang, a Research Fellow from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences wrote an complimentary article about Microsoft Research Asia’s role in the development of China’s R&D capabilities. The article (微软亚洲研究院带给我们什么 – literally What has Microsoft Research Asia brought us) appeared in China’s Scientific Times (科学时报).

In the article, Mingliang applauded lab’s advancement computing and Bill Gate’s decision to open the lab in China. The lab’s creation has developed deep inroads to the Chinese’s psyche and brought upon great sense of pride and self-belief. He also described the lab’s dynamic and open environment as the key that foster creativity among its researchers in the midst of China’s transformation to a knowledge based economy.

周民良:微软亚洲研究院带给我们什么

在观看奥运会的人群中,有比尔•盖茨的身影。作为开启新办公时代的领航者,盖茨对全球的贡献非常大。作为一名成功商人,盖茨多次来过北京。不知是否有人想过这个问题:盖茨带给我们什么?
 
在笔者看来,作为微软前总裁,盖茨以往到北京的最大成就,就是创立了微软亚洲研究院,这是一个类似于“鸟巢”和“水立方”、具有地标意义的外资研发机构,但也由此可见盖茨的远见卓识。微软亚洲研究院成立以来,诞生了大量研究成果,尤其是近两年来,微软亚洲研究院的成果更加丰富。据介绍,微软亚洲研究院的最新技术,在微软全球五大研究院中占据近1/3。在多媒体检索计算机系统和存储、数字娱乐及计算机图形、分布式系统研发、大规模数据分析等领域,微软亚洲研究院都有创造性的贡献,有多项技术成功转移到微软公司的核心产品中。不仅如此,微软亚洲研究院在各类国际一流刊物和会议上发表论文超过1500篇。微软亚洲研究院是盖茨成功的一部分,就如同他创立微软一样。
 
但是,微软亚洲研究院带给我们的意义应该是不一样的。首先,微软亚洲研究院告诉我们,高科技企业的成长十分依赖技术创新,要做世界顶端的企业,就要依赖世界顶端的技术。技术创新,是企业生存与发展的核心价值所在,也为企业的进一步发展提供了独特的竞争力。对我国企业来说,在一段时期引进技术和模仿技术是必要的,但从长期来看,企业要在市场上生存和发展下去,必须建立自己的技术创新体系,开发出具有自主知识产权的技术产品,在这方面,微软亚洲研究院为我们提供了很好的镜鉴。
 
其次,微软亚洲研究院告诉我们,中国人在技术创新方面的才智并不弱于欧美国家。妄自菲薄、认为中国是发展中国家,其技术水平就只能都停留在发展中国家的思维是不合乎发展实际的。中国的经济发展水平尽管不算发达,但在技术人才的培育上具有规模优势,如果能合理组织,实现技术与资本的良好结合,中国人完全可以在技术密集型产业领域取得成功。
 
再次,微软亚洲研究院告诉我们,技术创新除了与人才供应有关外,还与人才的激励与约束机制、人才的合作机制与团队精神、研究项目的设置等因素有关。在科研机构内部设置许多不正当竞争手段、任人唯亲地进行反向激励约束、黑箱操作地进行不公正的绩效评价,都无助于人才的脱颖而出和技术创新成果的不断涌现。在技术创新方面,微软亚洲研究院给我们提出一个颇具现实意义的问题:如何建立创新型的现代科研院所?

PhotoSynth 1.0 Avaliable for Download

Remembered the dazzling PhotoSynth 3D-demo of St Mark’s Basilica and the NASA?  Imagine all the photos of your favourite holiday pictures all joined together to form your own 3-D panoramic vistas.

You can now download the officially released Photosynth version 1.0.

PhotoSynth was based on Photo Tourism, a joint research project between University of Washington (UW) and Microsoft Research. You can read more about it’s history from here or watch an early version of this technology presented during the 2006 SIGGRAPH.

Email Prioritizer – An Outlook plug-in developed by Office Labs and Microsoft Research


Download Email Prioritizer prototype.

Email Prioritizer is an free add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 that helps you manage email overload.  and it prioritizes email to help you focus on the email messages that are most important to you with a 0-3 star rating system. It also provides a “do not disturb” button that temporarily pauses new email arrival.

It does this by using various algorithms to automatically identify the importance or urgency of e-mail messages delivered into an Outlook 2007 in-box. This idea was developed from a research project by Eric Horvitz and Mary Czerwinski.

Click here for a video demo of Email Prioritizer (Soapbox).

Source link: Microsoft Targets E-Mail Overload With Outlook Plug-In (Networking Computing India)

Microsoft Research Asia Researcher Awarded the 2008 MIT TR35 Young Innovator Prize


Dr HUA Xian-Sheng, a lead reseacher from the Internet Media Group (Microsoft Research Asia) was awarded the 2008 MIT Technology Review Young Innovator prize. This award is given in recognition of Hua’s work in the content-based video analysis.

The amount of video on the Web is growing at an ­incredible rate. Effectively searching online video, however, remains difficult.

Hua hopes to crack the problem by teaching computers to recognize objects, scenes, events, and other elements of digital images. He uses machine-learning techniques and annotated videos to train computers to automatically categorize new videos. Click here to view a flowchart explaining Hua’s video search system.

Congrats Xian-Sheng!

Related links:

Bill Gates marks anniversary of Microsoft research arm

On Tuesday (12 Aug 2008), Bill Gates said that the dramatic growth of the Internet would eventually help eliminate “the last constraints we have” and spark a software-writing revolution.

Bill was at a forum in Hong Kong to mark the 10th anniversary of the software giant’s Asian research arm (Microsoft Research Asia). He added that technology currently being developed would transform the way people use computers, expanding their ability to interact with the machines.

Gates also praised the work of his company’s Asian research division and voiced confidence in the power of science and technology as a force for positive change. “Whether it’s software or energy or agriculture, the promise of science is … much greater than ever before and that’s why I’m so optimistic,” he said.”

Read the full article “Gates marks anniversary of Microsoft research arm” (IHT)

Related link: Gates: Privacy an ‘interesting challenge’ (ZDNet Asia)