• N.Y. Workshop Caters to Emerging Field

    Posted by Rob Knies

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    How can influential people be identified on social networks? Can Twitter data identify the political ideology of legislators? What, exactly, does it mean that something on the web has “gone viral”?

    Mushrooming interest in social networking raises many intriguing questions, and in an age of big data, the explosion of content in those networks offers a new means of exploring the answers to those questions. Such opportunities provided the basis for CAOSS 2012, the Workshop on Computational and Online Social Science, held Oct. 12 in the Altschul Auditorium at New York’s Columbia University.

    The event was organized by Sharad Goel and Jake Hofman of Microsoft Research New York City, researchers who are shaping a new field at the intersection of computer science and social science just as it begins to coalesce.

  • 14 Years of Inspiring Asia Pacific Ph.D. Candidates

    Posted by Rob Knies

    2012 Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship Recipients

    For the past 13 years, the Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship Program has offered the most prestigious computer-science Ph.D. scholarships in the Asia Pacific region. Hundreds of students have been inspired to excel in the interim, and that reputation was underscored yet again in Tianjin, China, on Oct. 25.

    As part of the 14th Computing in the 21st Century Conference, co-hosted by Microsoft Research Asia, Nankai University, and Tianjin University, the program recognizes the most outstanding first- or second-year Ph.D. students in the region who are majoring in computer science, electrical engineering, information science, or applied mathematics.

    “The fellowship program has helped hundreds of outstanding young researchers launch their professional careers,” says Lolan Song, Microsoft Research Asia senior director responsible for academic collaboration in the Asia Pacific region. “I hope the program will be recognized as Asia’s ‘Junior Turing Award’ someday.”

  • Zeta: Scheduling Interactive Services with Partial Execution

    Posted by Yuxiong He, Sameh Elnikety, and James Larus, Microsoft Research; and Chenyu Yan, Microsoft

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    Sharing a resource, such as a computer processor or disk drive, requires the system to make decisions about which user’s task gets to use the resource and for how long. When my task is running, yours may be idling in a queue, awaiting its turn on a processor. The process of making these resource-allocation decisions is known as scheduling, and it has long been one of the most important aspects of system design, as a poor scheduler not only wastes resources but also can ruin a user’s experience.

    Scheduling is a well-studied area, but cloud computing raises new challenges. The focus of our paper Zeta: Scheduling Interactive Services with Partial Execution, being presented this week in San Jose, Calif., during the Association for Computing Machinery’s Symposium on Cloud Computing, is an important type of cloud service: time-bounded interactive services. These are websites—such as Microsoft’s Bing and Office 365 or Facebook—in which a user interacts directly with a service running in the cloud, as opposed to an application running on a local machine. To provide a pleasing user experience, the service’s response to a user’s click must occur near instantaneously, typically within a couple of hundred milliseconds, around the limits of human perception.

  • Rashid to Talk Technology at Computer History Museum

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Computer History Museum logo

    On Oct. 16 in Mountain View, Calif., the Computer History Museum will host a conversation between Rick Rashid, Microsoft chief research officer and worldwide head of Microsoft Research, and John Markoff of The New York Times. For 90 minutes, beginning at 7 p.m., the audience will get insights into the process of innovation, the risks it engenders, and the rewards it offers.

    The event is the latest in the Computer History Museum Revolutionaries Series, an acclaimed, recurring event featuring renowned innovators, business leaders, technological leaders, and authors. Registration is free.

    It figures to be a fascinating discussion. Rashid is expected to share more on his background, his role models, and his influences, particularly over the more than 21 years that he has led Microsoft Research.

  • In-Place: Interacting with Large Displays

    Posted by Rob Knies

    In-Place menus

    Computing in the 21st century increasingly is embracing touch interaction. Whether it be on mobile handhelds, large electronic displays, or something in between, such user interfaces are becoming commonplace.

    Interestingly, researchers from Microsoft Research Redmond are expanding that modern-day model of interaction using research breakthroughs from the 1990s combined with the latest in touch functionality.

    In-Place, a project by Michel Pahud, Ken Hinckley, and Bill Buxton, is the result. The work uses “bi-manual commands,” which means two hands working seamlessly together, such as touch with an index finger to move a menu toward the dominant hand so it can select a tool.