• Microsoft Research at SIGGRAPH 2014

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Photographic analysis of agricultural field

    Microsoft researchers will present a broad spectrum of new research at SIGGRAPH 2014, the 41st International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, which starts today in Vancouver, British Columbia. Sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery, SIGGRAPH is at the cutting edge of research in computer graphics and related areas, such as computer vision and interactive systems. SIGGRAPH has evolved to become an international community of respected technical and creative individuals, attracting researchers, artists, developers, filmmakers, scientists, and business professionals from all over the world. The research presented from Microsoft was developed across our global labs – from converting any camera into a depth-camera, to optimizing a scheme for clothing animation, and pushing the boundaries on new animated high-fidelity facial expression and performance capture techniques.

  • Platt Plenty Excited About AI

    Posted by Rob Knies

    John Platt

    Now, here’s an interesting one: The latest video in Channel 9’s Microsoft Research Luminaries series features John Platt (@johnplattml) and explores his work in the resurgent research area of artificial intelligence (AI), its close cousin, machine learning, and the impact of deep learning on those fields.

    Platt, a Microsoft distinguished scientist and deputy managing director of Microsoft Research Redmond, tells interviewer Larry Larsen that he has been with Microsoft for 17 years, but that he has spent no fewer than 32 years in the AI domain. At Larsen’s prompting, Platt then attempts to define and differentiate what is meant by the terms “AI” and “machine learning.”

  • Moving Food-Resilience Data to the Cloud

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Photographic analysis of agricultural field

    People need food, regularly and often. That’s such an obvious truth that’s it’s easy to lose sight of it—easy, that is, until calamity strikes and the food supply is endangered, as it could be in the wake of ongoing changes to Earth’s climate. That prospect is far from inviting.

    This is why Microsoft supports the White House’s inclusion of Food Resilience as one of the themes of its Climate Data Initiative (CDI), an effort to open, organize, and centralize climate-relevant data on Data.gov’s Climate website. And that’s why teams from across Microsoft—including the company’s research unit—are playing an intrinsic role in supporting the initiative.

    The CDI was announced on June 25, 2013, by U.S. President Barack Obama. Little more than a year later, progress is under way. Work on the Coastal Flooding Risks to Communities theme began in March, and in Washington, D.C., on July 29, the White House announced public and private partnerships and commitments in further support of CDI.

  • Station Q: the Quest for a Quantum Future

    Posted by Jennifer Warnick

    Station Q Michael Freedman at blackboard

    Station Q, headquarters of potentially world-changing quantum-computing research, is located just past where the Pacific Ocean meets the sand, up through a grove of palm trees and across a bike path. (Do mind the shirtless college student zipping past on a skateboard wearing only a backpack and swim trunks.)

    In some ways, Station Q is not at all what you’d expect from a hub for next-level computing research—there’s a strong Southern California vibe, with world-renowned experts turning up for work in Hawaiian shirts and shorts, and even a nearby room with a shower, a clothes rack full of faded wetsuits and battered, loaner surfboards leaning in the corner for those who do their best thinking while hanging ten.

    In other ways, Station Q’s surroundings are exactly what you’d think—equation-packed chalkboards hang in every office, meeting room and hallway; math and science comics taped outside office doors; and an academic air of silence (though there’s an underlying buzz to the place—a feeling of restlessness).

  • Project Adam and the Future of Programming

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Trishul Chilimbi

    Perhaps you’ve heard about Project Adam over the last few days. That work, which shows that large-scale, commodity distributed systems are able to train extra-large deep neural networks efficiently, has received its share of attention in the tech media this week after being featured during the 2014 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in the event-opening keynote address by Microsoft executive Harry Shum.

    Or maybe you saw the story On Welsh Corgis, Computer Vision, and the Power of Deep Learning, which appeared on the Microsoft Research website. That one was based on a fascinating interview with project colleagues Trishul Chilimbi and Johnson Apacible—one not dissimilar to Channel 9’s engaging video discussion with Chilimbi as part of the Microsoft Research Luminaries series.