• Microsoft Research New England: 2012 in Review

    Posted by Jennifer Chayes, managing director of Microsoft Research New England

    Microsoft Research New England 2012 in Review logo

    It’s been another year of great research, growth, and connection at Microsoft Research New England. We’ve had more than 350 academic visitors this year, many of whom have engaged deeply with other Microsoft Research researchers and with our product groups.

    The Social Media Collective (SMC) had an amazing year. We added three prominent researchers—Nancy Baym, Kate Crawford, and Mary Gray—to the SMC. Together with danah boyd, there is no doubt that we now have the leading social-media-research group worldwide. Our SMC researchers and visitors have done groundbreaking research on questions concerning youth and marginalized populations online, as well as in the study of social interactions around online music and games.

    We continued to have great results from our Empirical Economics program. Susan Athey and Markus Mobius, now joined by Justin Rao of Microsoft Research New York City, drive an ongoing engagement with more than a dozen external economists on empirical questions concerning online advertising, business models for our online properties and the cloud, and health-care economics.

  • Station Q: 2012 in Review

    Posted by Michael Freedman, managing director of Station Q

    Station Q 2012 in Review logo

    Station Q focuses on the physics of those condensed-matter quantum systems that offer the promise of intrinsic or “topological” protection from error and decoherence. Such systems are likely to play an important role in the architecture of quantum computers. We also enjoy trying to understand what quantum computers will be able to do once they are built.

    The answer is certainly not in asymptotic formulations; the constants matter. During a recent meeting on quantum chemistry, I learned that for problems that will be at the forefront in the next couple of decades, the limiting factor for quantum algorithms is not the number of qubits but the number of gate operations. One easily produces numbers like 10^20 if one does the “obvious”: imitate the unitary evolution you wish to study with fine “Trotter time steps” and build each step—which, because of the fineness, will agree with the identity matrix to a dozen decimal places—by a composition of millions of gates. Here is a hint that we might think of something cleverer.

  • Helping Pregnant Women Avoid Anemia

    Posted by Rob Knies

    mHealth Summit logo

    India has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. The nation also has a staggeringly high child mortality rate—about 46 of every thousand births result in death.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. Anemia during pregnancy plays a major contributory role in such cases—87 percent of pregnant Indians are anemic, and anemia is connected to 40 percent of the maternal deaths. The most common cause for anemia is a lack of healthy iron levels in the mother’s diet, but even though that shortcoming can be abated via iron supplements and many governmental hospitals freely distribute iron tablets, Indian women rarely complete the course of medication.

    Bill Thies and his collaborators at Microsoft Research India, the nonprofit Armman, and Sion Hospital are determined to change things, as he will make clear Dec. 4 during the fourth annual mHealth Summit, being held Dec. 3-5 in National Harbor, Md., just outside Washington, D.C.

  • Take Socl for a Spin

    Posted by Lili Cheng

    New Socl user interface

    As you may know, Socl began as an experiment in social search for students and learning. Over the past several months, we’ve watched Socl evolve into a place where people connect over shared interests expressed through beautiful post collages.

    We appreciate your continued feedback, which is helping us to gain more insight every day and improve how we can all communicate, learn, and share our everyday lives. We’ve been busy redesigning Socl to match how you’re using it, and starting today, we’d like you to give the new Socl a spin and let us know what you think.

  • Four from Microsoft Research Named IEEE Fellows

    Posted by Rob Knies

    IEEE logo

    In this, the 100th anniversary of what is now known as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)  Fellow program, four computer scientists from Microsoft Research have joined the annals of illustrious individuals who have attained the grade of IEEE Fellow.

    Peter Key, Yi Ma, Feng Wu, and Geoffrey Zweig of the Class of 2013 represent  Microsoft Research’s latest contributions for this prestigious honor, bestowed upon select IEEE members whose extraordinary accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest are deemed fitting.