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Posted by Rob Knies
What if they held a programming competition involving hundreds of teams—and everybody won?That might seem improbable, but when viewed through the prism of the contest’s value to its participants, that was precisely what happened during the ICFP Programming Contest 2013.Four Japanese teams and a Russian team claimed top honors during the contest, held over a 72-hour period from Aug. 8 to 11. The event, held in conjunction with the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Conference on Functional Programming, being held in Boston from Sept. 25 to 27, was organized by two members of the Research in Software Engineering (RiSE) team at Microsoft Research Redmond.
Posted by Curtis Wong, principal researcher
It’s been an amazing journey for the past 30 months, developing the ideas and prototypes that made the case to start up Project “GeoFlow,” now called Power Map, with the help of the Startup Business Group (SBG) within Microsoft. SBG helped to provide some of the resources for hiring the development, design, and test teams, and Office provided program-management resources to ensure that what we developed would integrate well with Excel. The 3-D visualization technology has become a key piece, along with Power View, of the business-intelligence capabilities of Power BI in Excel.The team was small, but each member was excited about what we were building. I had spent a lot of time exploring the different kinds of functionality for what the product should do by using the visual-experience engine that powered the WorldWide Telescope. It was extremely useful for me to be able to show specifically how a feature could work with different representations and data types, which made it easier for everyone to have a shared understanding of a feature. That enabled the program managers to gain a deep understanding of the features when writing a spec and helped the development team understand the best way to build it.
For years now, Jennifer Chayes, a Microsoft distinguished scientist and managing director of Microsoft Research New England and Microsoft Research New York City, has been a passionate advocate for the study of computer science by girls.That advocacy has attracted notice, witness the Women to Watch Award from the Boston Business Journal and the Women of Leadership Vision Award from the Anita Borg Institute, both presented last year.Today, Chayes’ efforts are receiving official commendation yet again. She has been named a winner of a 2013 Catalyst Award from the Science Club for Girls.
Efficiency is one of the hallmarks of successful science, and for proof, you need look no further than the Sept. 5 issue of the journal Science, which features a study by a team of scientists from Microsoft Research Cambridge, Duke University, and North Carolina State University that culminates in an astounding conclusion:Protecting 17 percent of the land on Earth, the authors state, could result in the preservation of 67 percent of endemic plant species.That’s certainly efficient—and the result of a new, collaborative plant-conservation study—Achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Goals for Plant Conservation—led by Lucas Joppa and Piero Visconti of Microsoft Research Cambridge, Clinton N. Jenkins of North Carolina State, and Stuart L. Pimm of Duke.