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Posted by Rob Knies
Distributed computing is critical for most modern, Internet-scale services, enabling high availability and the ability to scale to massive, worldwide audiences. The web as we now know it is unimaginable without advances achieved in distributed computing.It is challenging, though, to attain these capabilities while ensuring the correctness and the consistency of the shared and replicated mutable state offered by such services, because of the potential for failures of various kinds, such as server and network failures.Introducing students and researchers to such challenges is the goal of Microsoft Research India’s 2012 Summer School on Distributed Algorithms, Systems, and Programming, to be held from May 28 to June 8 in the Supercomputer Education and Research Center (SERC) Auditorium of the Indian Institute of Science, located in Bangalore.
You might have noticed in your most recent Bing search that, these days, you often can get an answer to your query without having to click through to one of the search results.For example, I recently wondered about this year’s date for Mother’s Day in the United States. I typed “mother’s day” into Bing and was greeted with a bold line of text in the middle of the screen that read “Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 13, 2012.” Great—just what I needed.Such assistance, though, requires manual intervention. People research and write the direct answers for such requests, and, given that the list of potential web queries is endless, there aren’t enough people to go around. Expensive human help is available for only the most popular queries. That’s what Direct Answers for Search Queries in the Long Tail aims to fix.
Posted by Surajit Chaudhuri, managing director of the eXtreme Computing Group
The latest in a series of posts from the directors of Microsoft Research’s labs worldwide, this one from Surajit Chaudhuri of the eXtreme Computing Group (XCG).
It has been just more than six months since I joined XCG as its lab director. XCG is a unique Microsoft Research lab that consists of not only great researchers and program managers, as in other Microsoft Research labs, but also a relatively large and experienced engineering team. This combination of talent has created a culture in XCG to focus on big bets, as we also have the ability to make significant engineering investments
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.
Have you heard of Colonel Blotto? Me, neither—at least not until a few days ago, when I ran into my friend and colleague Thore Graepel in the atrium of Building 99 on Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus, worldwide headquarters of Microsoft Research.
Graepel was telling me about Project Waterloo, the initial effort from the nascent Research Games project at Microsoft Research Cambridge. Project Waterloo is a Facebook game designed in the Colonel Blotto style, which means that two players are asked to distribute a finite set of resources over a collection of geographies. The player who has distributed the most resources over each geography is the winner of that one, and the player who wins the most geographies wins the game.
In the case of Project Waterloo, each player is allocated 100 “troops,” to be distributed over five “battlefields.” The player who wins the most battlefields wins the game.