Posted by Andrew Blake, managing director of Microsoft Research Cambridge

 Year in Review

The latest in a series of posts from the directors of Microsoft Research’s labs worldwide, this one from Andrew Blake from Microsoft Research Cambridge.

It’s been quite a year, not least because it was my first full year as managing director of Microsoft Research Cambridge. I have to say that it’s been great fun so far, getting to know the lab and the people here a lot better. Until this year, my understanding has been rather skewed toward certain quarters of the lab’s work, and it has been very interesting, not to say challenging, to try to get to know other areas a bit more closely.

When it comes to awards, this has been a great year. Let’s see: Tony Hoare won the prestigious IEEE John von Neumann Medal; Simon Peyton-Jones and Simon Marlow won the ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Software Award; Abi Sellen was elected to the ACM SIGCHI Academy and as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering; the Rooke Medal went to Chris Bishop; the computer-vision team that invented the machine learning for Kinect human-motion capture—Andrew Fitzgibbon, Jamie Shotton, Toby Sharp, Mat Cook, and me—won the MacRobert Award, the premier annual award of the Royal Academy of Engineering; Georges Gonthier won the EADS Foundation Prize; and Andrew Phillips was named to the TR35, the annual list of MIT Technology Review’s 35 innovators under 35.

I can’t help but be impressed by the extensive network of relationships our researchers and engineers have forged within the company. And with that comes a rich transfer of knowledge and technology, including, during the year: .NET Gadgeteer, the modular rapid prototyping system for hardware; F# 3.0 for information-rich programming; components for the Kinect for Windows SDK; the Gesture Recognition Tool Kit, so far shipped with Kinect Sports: Season Two; the Microsoft Touch Mouse, invented and engineered in collaboration with Microsoft Research Cambridge staff; Project Emporia on Windows Phone 7; organ recognition in medical imaging for Microsoft Amalga; Safer C++ (/guard option in Visual C++), which improves the security and reliability of C/C++ programs; and asynchronous programming in C# 5.0, Visual Basic 11, and .NET Framework 4.5.

Finally, we welcomed many new faces to Cambridge, including about 100 interns, post-docs, visiting researchers, and full time researchers. It was also a year in which we bid retirement best wishes to a visionary leader, my predecessor, Andrew Herbert.

Already, there is so much to look forward to next year and many interesting challenges that lie ahead, including our move to a new lab building, by the railway station in central Cambridge. Here’s to an even more spectacular 2012!