• Bringing Big-Data Dreams Down to Earth

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Holograph visualization

    You’ve probably heard a bit about big data in recent months. Chatter abounds about the enticing possibilities such prodigious data collections offer. But what, really, is in store for owners and users of big data sets?

    Curtis Wong knows.

    He should. Wong was the Microsoft Research scientist who gave the world the WorldWide Telescope, used by legions of astronomy fans fascinated by the informative, fun experience offered by a virtual telescope that delivers seamless, guided explorations of the universe.

    On April 17, during Microsoft Research’s Silicon Valley TechFair, he is demonstrating a project called Holograph, an interactive, 3-D data-visualization research platform that can render static and dynamic data above or below the plane of a display, using a variety of 3-D stereographic techniques.

  • Next for Rothschild: Bringing Rationality to March Madness

    Posted by Rob Knies

    David Rothschild

    March Madness, they call it, but David Rothschild is taking things to new extremes.

    Rothschild, an economist from Microsoft Research New York City, has been making a name for himself in the past few years. In 2012, he correctly predicted 50 of 51 Electoral College outcomes in the U.S. presidential race. Last month, his models accurately forecasted the winners in 21 of the 24 categories in the 86th annual Academy Awards.

    Now, for the first time, he is applying his prognosticative powers to the Big Dance, the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. With Selection Sunday complete and with bracket in hand, Rothschild will be following every step of the spectacle, beginning March 18 and continuing all the way through to the April 7 championship game.

  • An Early Peek into the Oscars’ Envelopes

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Film reels

    It’s mid-February, and the nominations for the 86th Academy Awards have been public for a month. Fans are scrambling to watch all the nominated films they can find. Film buffs debate the talents of Blanchett and Bullock until closing time. Excited partygoers and party throwers are planning feverishly.
    David Rothschild, too, has his own Oscars preparations in the works. He’s not watching the movies, though. Instead, he’s focusing on the data associated with them.
    You might recall that Rothschild, an economist from Microsoft Research New York City, made his initial foray into predicting the winners of the Oscars in 2013—and that his forecasts proved accurate in 19 of the 24 Academy Awards categories.
    Now, he is attempting to improve upon that already gaudy record in the days leading to March 2, when members of the film community gather at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre for the opening of the envelopes from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

  • Jaron Lanier Wins German Book Trade’s Peace Prize

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Jaron Lanier

    Jaron Lanier is a man of many talents: computer scientist, composer, visual artist, author. He has been called the “father of virtual reality” for his groundbreaking efforts in the 1980s. In recent years, he has lent a strong, unique voice to the worldwide conversation about the merits and limitations of the digital age.

    It’s quite a résumé. Now, though, he can add a new entry to the list. On June 5, Lanier, an interdisciplinary scientist with Microsoft Research, was named the 2014 recipient of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

    The award, bestowed by the German publishers and booksellers association, is an international prize awarded annually and considered one of Europe’s most prestigious honors. It will be presented on Oct. 12 during the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest trade fair for books, held in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

  • Seeking Answers amid World Cup Excitement

    Posted by Rob Knies

    David Rothschild

    When the world starts watching, it’s time for David Rothschild to shift into overdrive.

    Readers of this blog need little introduction to the work on prediction models from Rothschild, a Microsoft researcher and economist. Past posts have examined his efforts to produce accurate forecasts for events such as the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the 2013 and 2014 Academy Awards, the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and, recently, India’s general election.

    So, what’s the next big thing to which he can apply his prognosticative powers?

    The World Cup, of course.