• Conjecture Proof Leads to Pólya Prize

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Nikhil Srivastava, Adam W. Marcus, and Daniel A. Spielman

    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.

  • The Code That No One in the Cloud Can Live Without

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Parikshit Gopalan, Jin Li, Sergey Yekhanin, and Cheng Huang

    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 GopalanCheng 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.

  • Gulwani Wins 2014 Robin Milner Young Researcher Award

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Sumit Gulwani

    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.

  • Shotton Receives Young Researcher Accolade

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Jamie Shotton

    In early June, Jamie Shotton received a most welcome email from Ramin Zabih, professor of computer science at Cornell Tech and chair of the IEEE Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (PAMI) Technical Committee.

    Zabih had the responsibility to let a gifted young individual know that he was the 2014 recipient of the PAMI Young Researcher Award. That was the message Shotton received.

    “I knew I’d been nominated,” he says, “but actually hearing I’d won was rather exciting! I was beaming ear-to-ear for the rest of the day.”

  • Chasing the Impossible Dream: GPS-Based Locations Indoors

    GPS antenna beam

    Conventional wisdom holds that the use of GPS satellites to enable indoor mapping is a non-starter. GPS receivers, it is said, simply don’t work indoors, for a variety of reasons. While Earth’s outdoors environment has been mapped extensively, indoor localization of places such as shopping malls or department stores remains an elusive dream.

    Conventional wisdom, says Jie Liu, is wrong.

    COIN-GPS: Indoor Localization from Direct GPS Receiving—a paper from Liu and his fellow Microsoft researchers Gerald DeJean, Bodhi Priyantha, Yuzhe Jin, and Ted Hart, along with Shahriar Nirjon of the University of Virginia—challenges current assumptions about the viability of GPS for indoor localization. That paper just won a best-paper award during MobiSys 2014, the 12th International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services, held June 16-19 in Bretton Woods, N.H.