• eXtreme Computing Group: 2012 in Review

    Posted by Surajit Chaudhuri, managing director of the eXtreme Computing Group

    eXtreme Computing Group 2012 in Review logo

    2012 has been a year of significant developments for the eXtreme Computing Group (XCG), from changes in its organizational structure to project milestones we reached.

    One year ago, XCG had several teams with specific technical focus and expertise, in addition to a large but separate engineering group. The intent of such an organizational structure was to have the engineering team not only incubate some of its own project ideas but also to step in and contribute to projects in other parts of XCG. Despite good intentions, such an organizational structure did not serve XCG well. I discovered that it encouraged fragmentation and conflict of interest instead of promoting collaboration. Therefore, we made a few organizational changes. Today, our engineering resources—researchers, developers, program managers—are organized exclusively by their technical expertise, and we no longer have a separate engineering team. XCG has responded well to this change, accomplished early in the year, and we are a more cohesive team than ever before.

  • 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.

  • .NET Gadgeteer Gets Youths Excited About Computer Science

    Posted by Rob Knies

    WiPSCE 2012 Best Paper Award

    Over the past year, the use of .NET Gadgeteer in education steadily has gained momentum, and that surge in interest received significant validation a few weeks ago in Hamburg, Germany.

    That city was the site of the seventh Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education, held Nov. 8-9. During the proceedings, it was announced that Challenge and Creativity: Using .NET Gadgeteer in Schools, a paper co-written by Sue Sentance of the United Kingdom’s Anglia Ruskin University and Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche of Microsoft Research Connections’ Europe and Russia region, had won the event’s Best Paper Award.

  • 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.

  • Microsoft Research Silicon Valley: 2012 in Review

    Posted by Roy Levin, managing director of Microsoft Research Silicon Valley

    Microsoft Research Silicon Valley 2012 in Review logo

    Transferring research results into products and services is always a challenging part of Microsoft Research’s job. No two transfers ever happen quite the same way. This year, Microsoft Research Silicon Valley had a tech-transfer experience that is, I believe, unique in the history of Microsoft Research—at least, I can’t remember one of a similar sort in the 11 years I’ve been here.

    The technology in this case is a novel form of erasure codes, called “locally reconstructable codes,” that can make a dramatic improvement in the resources required to provide necessary redundancy in a storage-based service. These codes have substantially better space efficiency than classic Reed-Solomon codes, as well as better performance both in normal operation and during error recovery. It is surprising and gratifying that even in a field that has been explored so extensively, it is still possible to make important discoveries.