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Windows on Theory
Posted by Rob Knies
Recently, I wrote about Microsoft Research contributions to the new Translator App for Windows Phone, available for free download on Windows Phone Marketplace.Some of them, anyway.As it turns out, the story goes a bit deeper than the earlier post was able to convey. Since its publication, I have connected with a couple of researchers from Microsoft Research Asia who told me of other ways—some of long standing, some new— that research has enabled and extended the Translator App.
Life consists, in large part, of seeking answers to the questions that perplex us, and Neeraj Kayal is no exception. But for Kayal, a researcher at Microsoft Research India, those questions can take a distinctly singular direction.Such as: What is the fastest way to solve a system of linear equations? A system of polynomial equations?Or: Can we factor integers efficiently?Or: How can we tackle rounding errors in numerical computation? For an algorithm whose final answer is either yes or no, can we rewrite it in such a way that rounding the results of intermediate computations to a reasonable amount of precision does not affect the final answer?Kayal’s research is in theoretical computer science with a focus on arithmetic complexity, and his pursuit of answers to such questions has led the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) to include him in its list of recipients of the 2012 INSA Medal for Young Scientists, presented to young scientists of extraordinary promise and creativity who have made notable research contributions in science and technology.
Aleksander Madry and David Steurer are both postdoctoral researchers at Microsoft Research New England focused on theoretical computer science. Each of them is intrigued by the challenges posed by graphs, and each has devised new algorithms to address those challenges.And, as of May 2, both are recipients of Honorable Mention from the Association for Computing Machinery for its 2011 Doctoral Dissertation Award, presented annually to the author or authors of the best doctoral dissertations in computer science and engineering.
Making efficient use of resources and tools is a hallmark of many computer-research projects, and that target is exemplified in a pair of videos that illuminate work coming from Microsoft Research India.The videos, recently made publicly accessible, represent two distinct research projects, one from the Mobility, Networks, and Systems team at the India lab, the other from the Technology for Emerging Markets group. The former examines a method to make devices more energy-efficient by using cloud resources, while the latter offers a novel way to educate students in poor communities.
This spring, London’s Royal Court Theatre issued a most peculiar press release, announcing the forthcoming production of Ten Billion: An Exploration of the Future of Life on Earth, to debut July 12.“Scientist Stephen Emmott and director Katie Mitchell deliver a new kind of scientific lecture,” the release read, “highlighting key issues being lost in translation in our discussion of the environment.”The first name caught my eye immediately. Emmott is the head of Computational Science at Microsoft Research Cambridge—in addition to being a professor of Computational Science at the University of Oxford. His work takes a pioneering approach to tackling fundamental problems in science, particularly those in predicting the future of the climate and the future of life on Earth.