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Have you heard of Colonel Blotto? Me, neither—at least not until a few days ago, when I ran into my friend and colleague Thore Graepel in the atrium of Building 99 on Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus, worldwide headquarters of Microsoft Research.
Graepel was telling me about Project Waterloo, the initial effort from the nascent Research Games project at Microsoft Research Cambridge. Project Waterloo is a Facebook game designed in the Colonel Blotto style, which means that two players are asked to distribute a finite set of resources over a collection of geographies. The player who has distributed the most resources over each geography is the winner of that one, and the player who wins the most geographies wins the game.
In the case of Project Waterloo, each player is allocated 100 “troops,” to be distributed over five “battlefields.” The player who wins the most battlefields wins the game.
Given the great strides taken in e-commerce over the past decade, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that such transactions are still in their infancy.
Hence the need for the Academic Research Center for E-Commerce Technologies, announced Oct. 9 by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Microsoft Research. Those entities signaled their intention of co-establishing a facility that will promote and fund basic research in computer science, artificial intelligence, game theory, economics, and psychology, with a focus on the connections between these subjects when considered from an e-commerce perspective.
The center, a five-year joint research and education partnership, is the first academic research program involving Microsoft Research in Israel. The effort is designed to explore scientific and technological insights in e-commerce, such as online advertising and the use of social networks for commerce. Over the next five years, Microsoft will invest $1.5 million in the center, which will be located at The Technion campus in Haifa, Israel.