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Posted by Rob Knies
Sumit Gulwani is a kind and accomplished person, the type who doesn’t simply display concern when he sees something amiss, but actually rolls up his sleeves and begins to fix it.While his day job is as a Microsoft researcher, he also serves on the adjunct faculty in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and on the University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering affiliate faculty. But even those contributions pale in significance to his passion for empowering computer users and identifying better educational techniques to inspire those who might follow in his footsteps.Given that, it’s hardly a surprise to read the glowing citation for his 2014 Robin Milner Young Researcher Award, recognizing outstanding contributions by young investigators in the area of programming languages. The recognition is presented annually by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Programming Languages (SIGPLAN) and was announced in Edinburgh, U.K., in mid-June during that group’s 35th annual conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation.
A couple of years ago, a few Microsoft researchers published a couple of interesting papers on storage efficiencies. Now, with breathtaking speed, the concepts in those papers have been embraced across the cloud-computing world.Technological change can occur at lightning speed. Parikshit Gopalan, Cheng Huang, and Sergey Yekhanin can testify to that.In November 2012, Gopalan, Huang, and Yekhanin, along with Huseyin Simitci of Windows Azure Storage (now Microsoft Azure Storage), had their paper On the Locality of Codeword Symbols, published in IEEE Transactions on Information Theory.During ISIT 2014, the IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory, being held June 29-July 4 in Honolulu, the authors of that paper received the IEEE Communications Society & Information Theory Society Joint Paper Award. The honor goes to outstanding papers published in a publication of the Communications Society or the Information Theory Society within the previous three calendar years.
It was almost a year ago, in this space, that you might have learned the astounding news that a team of two researchers from Yale University and one from Microsoft Research had announced a proof of a riddle that had eluded mathematicians for more than half a century.The Kadison-Singer conjecture, first proposed by Richard Kadison and Isadore Singer in 1959, pertains to the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics. At the time, experts suggested that the implications could be significant. That, says Nikhil Srivastava of Microsoft Research India, is starting to come true.Now, during the 2014 annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), being held in Chicago from July 7 to 11, the breakthrough is earning a more immediate reward. The 2014 George Pólya Prize will be presented to Srivastava and colleagues Adam W. Marcus and Daniel A. Spielman by Irene Fonseca, professor of mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University and current SIAM president.
With the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina set for July 13 at Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, the powerful appeal of sporting events to a global audience becomes apparent once again. What began with a 3-1 victory for host Brazil over Croatia nearly a month ago has reached the point of soccer-fueled hysteria.Simply stated, people love their sports.Give the people what they want—that’s the goal of the team of Microsoft researchers and developers that have put together the Leibniz contributions to the Bing Sports app, which debuted on the Windows 8.1 desktop on Feb. 23 with Associated Press feeds about the National Basketball Association. Article-reader impressions in the app spiked immediately.
Cortana, the personal assistant for Windows Phone 8.1, certainly has received plenty of attention since being announced in April. Her ability to make your day-to-day life easier by managing your information and keeping you up to date has made her one of the most discussed technological developments of the year.Now, Cortana is about to get smarter—way smarter.This fall, she will be able to point the way to a wealth of information from the academic community. Cortana is powered by Bing, and soon, that search engine will have academic data tightly integrated and prominently featured on its search pages.The new functionality, announced July 14 during the 15th annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, represents the latest step for Microsoft Academic Search, which has been a test bed for research ideas for fields such as data mining, named-entity disambiguation, and visualization. This research project has served as a means to explore the challenges in searching for scholarly works, such as achieving author disambiguation, determining publication influence, and constructing graphs of related authors.