• Microsoft Research’s Indian Election Game

    Posted by David Rothschild

    David Rothschild

    The final voting for the India’s general election concludes at 6:30 PM local time on Monday, May 12 and, “as the voting closes in India, no one knows what the results will be.” There are total of 814 million eligible voters in this massive display of democracy, which is why voting is spread out over more than a month (not enough polling machine and election workers, so they need to move around the country). It will take an additional four days to count the final vote tallies, due to be released on Friday, May 16, although we expect exit polls to be released as the voting closes.

    While readers from the United States are accustomed to intense and accurate coverage of the election polls through Election Day (the US is already inundated with 2016 election polls), India bans polling from being released during the voting portion of the campaign. Microsoft Research saw this as an opportunity to test a new crowdsourcing prediction game to see how well we could do at predicting the unpredictable.

    The Indian Elections Game, joint work between Microsoft Research India, including Shipra Agrawal and Nikhil R. Devanur, and Microsoft Research New York City, including Miro Dudik and myself, was released just before voting began on April 7 and ran through today’s final voting day. Nearly 4,000 users created their predictions on the number of seats that any given party, or combination of parties, would get in any of the 35 voting states and union territories. For example, a user may look at Delhi’s seven seats and predict that BJP would get between 4 and 5 seats while Congress (INC) would get between 0 and 1 seats.

  • How Search Can Help in a Medical Crisis

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Nina Mishra

    One day, a woman named Lisa is walking her dog, Lucky, when she meets an elderly neighbor. Suddenly, the neighbor falls unconscious and stops breathing.

    What would you do in this scenario? These days, many people’s initial reaction would be to reach for their mobile phones and seek help. But today’s search engines don’t offer pertinent assistance for such a situation. You can go to Wikipedia or the Mayo Clinic site, but those resources are designed for relaxed information seeking, not for urgent settings such as the one above.

    How could search help? Working with a collection of collaborators, Nina Mishra of Microsoft Research aims to find out.

  • Making It Easy for Educators to Go Cutting-Edge

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Office Mix logo

    There has been lots of discussion over the past couple of years about the future of higher education. First, many universities embraced the idea of massive open online courses (MOOCs) to broaden their teaching to a global scale.

    Then, after observing that MOOCs haven’t fared all that well in real-world scenarios, others have parried with the concept of SPOCs—small private online classes—that offer video lectures as homework and classroom time as an opportunity to refine students’ comprehension of what they viewed online. This is being called “blended” learning.

    Interesting times, but there are commonalities among these approaches. Online lessons must be created, quizzes and interactive exercises must be inserted, and attention must be paid to analytics to achieve continual improvement. The problem is that there has been no easy tool to democratize the creation, publication, and sharing of online lessons—and augmenting them with built-in data analytics. 

    Enter Office Mix.

  • Two Years On, New York City Lab’s Roots Run Deep

    Posted by Rob Knies

    New York City

    It’s been two years since Microsoft Research New York City was founded—and nine months since the lab established a permanent, bespoke home in the Flatiron District, smack dab in the middle of Silicon Alley. So how have things gone so far?

    Pretty darn well, if you ask Jennifer Chayes, managing director of the New York City facility.

    “In many ways,” she says, “the lab has become the top research group in data science worldwide.”

    That’s one of the messages Chayes and colleagues will be delivering on May 5, when Microsoft Research New York City hosts an open house to show off its new space to an assemblage of select academics.

  • How Today’s Creativity Will Inform Our Entertainment of the Future

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Creativity Conference logo

    What does the “creative process” really mean? Where do creative ideas come from? What is the relationship between creativity and technology?

    Answering these questions, and a host of similar ones, will provide the focus for the second annual Creativity Conference, being held May 2 at The Newseum, in Washington, D.C. The event is designed to underscore the importance of innovation and creativity and will feature a collection of experts from the entertainment, technology, and political realms who will examine the themes of creativity, technology, and the economy.

    Among those experts are a couple of scientists from Microsoft Research: Mary Czerwinski and Kati London