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Posted by Hussein Salama, director of Advanced Technology Labs Cairo
In 2012, we reaped the fruits of our long-term investments and bets that we made close to four years ago. In the midst of the Egyptian-revolution aftershocks, our lab managed to keep its focus and to end the year with many wonderful achievements.Our information-retrieval team continued its multiyear effort to drive up the relevance of Bing search for the Arab countries. In recognition of that team’s accomplishments and the skills the team members demonstrated, the Bing product group decided in March to start a Bing team in Cairo. The Bing Cairo team is collocated with Advanced Technology Labs Cairo and focuses on Bing search for the Arab countries and Turkey. I am delighted to have a research team and a development team at the same location, as this simplifies the collaboration and speeds the transfer of technologies from research to product.
Posted by Jennifer Chayes, managing director of Microsoft Research New York City
The inaugural year of Microsoft Research New York City has been stupendous. All of us at Microsoft are thrilled with our newest lab.The lab officially opened on May 3, 2012, with the announcement of a group of 15 founding researchers: David Pennock, Sébastien Lahaie, Justin Rao, David Rothschild, and Giro Cavallo in algorithmic, computational, and empirical economics; Duncan Watts, Dan Goldstein, Sharad Goel, Sid Suri, and Jake Hofman in computational and behavioral social science; John Langford, Miro Dudik, and Alekh Agarwal in machine learning; and Fernando Diaz and Elad Yom-Tov in information retrieval. Together, these researchers bring a deeply original and phenomenally productive approach to data science, particularly in the domains of economics and the social sciences.In the fall, the group was joined by one more member, Jenn Wortman Vaughan, who has done research in machine learning, algorithmic economics, and social science, and who, therefore, was a great match for the lab.
Posted by Rob Knies
For a man of 29, Vipul Goyal, a researcher at Microsoft Research India, already possesses a gaudy list of academic and professional achievements. He has a Ph.D. from UCLA. As a student there, he won a Microsoft Research graduate fellowship. His cryptographic research has been widely published at top conferences, and his work has attracted the attention of popular science publications.And, on Dec. 17, Goyal was named to the Science and Healthcare section of Forbes magazine’s annual 30 Under 30 list, which features exceptional young people who are reinventing the world.The inclusion represents even more validation of Goyal’s current success and tremendous potential—and this one he found particularly thrilling.
Posted by Eric Horvitz and Yi-Min Wang, managing co-directors of Microsoft Research Redmond
As we look back on the year at Microsoft Research Redmond, a flood of creative efforts and achievements come to mind. These include mission-focused pursuits aimed at solving urgent challenges, the pursuit of new understandings at the foundations of computer science, and blue-sky initiatives exploring new possibilities. Notable developments, honors, and influences are far too numerous to include in a short blog post, so we can touch on only a small subset of representative milestones.On the foundations front, a stunning set of experiments provided evidence for an elusive particle named the Majorana fermion. A team at the Delft University of Technology, led by Leo Kouwenhoven, used an experimental setup proposed and funded by our Station Q. Majoranas have been proposed as central in enabling an approach to quantum computing being pursued at Station Q.
Posted by Michael Freedman, managing director of Station Q
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.