• The Bright Future of Machine Learning

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Machine Learning Summit logo

    Unlocking the future—that was the theme Rick Rashid, Microsoft chief research officer, used to close his opening remarks April 23 during the first day of the Microsoft Research Machine Learning Summit 2013.

    The event, held at Microsoft’s Le Campus site in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, just outside of Paris, gathered thought leaders and researchers from a broad range of computing-related disciplines to focus on key challenges in a new era of machine learning and to identify what will be necessary to take advantage of the information resources of today and tomorrow to enhance society at large.

    Co-chair Evelyne Viegas of Microsoft Research Connections opened the summit with a few introductory remarks before introducing Alain Crozier, president of Microsoft France, who welcomed the approximately 250 attendees to the event. Viegas then took the opportunity to bring Rashid to the stage for his introductory remarks.

  • MACE: Taking Control of Network Access

    Posted by Rob Knies

    MACE logo

    Any businessperson in a large organization can testify about the challenges growth can bring. As a business gets larger, for example, the number of employees increases. Further growth might mean multiple offices—some, perhaps, located in distant lands.

    Ideally, you want your employees all tied into the same network, accessing the appropriate resources and communicating effectively. That can grow difficult, though, once the employee count begins to rise and spills into multiple locations. Managing access to network resources is important—and it isn’t easy.

    That’s where Management of Access Control in the Enterprise (MACE) comes in. This tool, available for download, enables administrators to collect data from one or more servers and visualize that information to understand who has access to what—which user or security group has read/write access to which resources, be it folders, shares, or File Classification Infrastructure (FCI) files.

  • Machine Learning Achieves Humanitarian Ends

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Infer.NET logo

    In February 2012, in response to an initiative from the administration of U.S. President Obama to harness technology and innovation to encourage development for longtime scientific challenges such as health, food security, and climate change, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office launched Patents for Humanity, a program to recognize those who use patented technology to aid the less fortunate.

    The inaugural winners are in, and prominent among them is Infer.NET, a Microsoft Research Cambridge library for machine learning, which won one of the contest’s four categories, information technology.

    The awards were presented April 11 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Teresa Stanek Rea, acting undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and acting director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, made the presentations, and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who introduced last year’s Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act, spoke during the event. Fred Humphries, Microsoft vice president for U.S. Government Affairs, accepted the award.

    John Winn, along with Tom Minka one of the inventors of Infer.NET, didn’t exactly see such an honor coming.

  • Microsoft Research: on the CUSP of Urban Livability

    Posted by Rob Knies

    CUSP logo

    Over the past year, the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), a New York City-based public-private research center created by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in conjunction with New York University, has advanced from creation to gaining traction in its mission of using the city as a living laboratory and classroom to help cities around the world become more productive, livable, equitable, and resilient.

    CUSP relies on urban informatics—the acquisition, integration, and analysis of data to understand and improve urban systems and the quality of city life.

    Over the past year, Microsoft Research New York City has advanced from creation to gaining traction in its mission to advance the state of the art in computational and behavioral social sciences, computational economics and prediction markets, machine learning, and informational retrieval.

    See any parallels there? You’re not the only one.

  • 5 Things You Can Learn About Search

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Things We've Learnt About ... issue 3

    Over at the Next at Microsoft blog, Steve Clayton has just published a post about the latest issue of the Things We’ve Learnt About … series from the Socio-Digital Systems (SDS) group at Microsoft Research Cambridge.

    This issue, the third in this compelling, visually stunning series of magazine-type treatments, focuses on search and web use—or, more specifically, what it means to move beyond search.

    The latest copy is available for download, as are its predecessors, which addressed the areas of communication and memory, respectively. What you’ll find is a few dozen pages of incisive text blocks, liberally seasoned with eye-popping graphics, that look beyond the search engines and mechanisms currently in vogue to what the future could hold.