• 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Four from Microsoft Research Named Inaugural AMS Fellows

    Posted by Rob Knies

    American Mathematical Society logo

    Four members of Microsoft Research have been named to the inaugural list of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society (AMS), announced in November.