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Posted by Rob Knies
India has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. The nation also has a staggeringly high child mortality rate—about 46 of every thousand births result in death.It doesn’t have to be that way. Anemia during pregnancy plays a major contributory role in such cases—87 percent of pregnant Indians are anemic, and anemia is connected to 40 percent of the maternal deaths. The most common cause for anemia is a lack of healthy iron levels in the mother’s diet, but even though that shortcoming can be abated via iron supplements and many governmental hospitals freely distribute iron tablets, Indian women rarely complete the course of medication.Bill Thies and his collaborators at Microsoft Research India, the nonprofit Armman, and Sion Hospital are determined to change things, as he will make clear Dec. 4 during the fourth annual mHealth Summit, being held Dec. 3-5 in National Harbor, Md., just outside Washington, D.C.
Eight sentences. That’s all it took for Rick Rashid, worldwide head of Microsoft Research, to electrify a crowd of 2,000 students and faculty members in Tianjin, China, on Oct. 25 during the 14th annual Computing in the 21st Century Conference.Why did those in attendance respond so rapturously for the conclusion of Rashid’s keynote? The answer was simple: He was speaking in English, but the largely Chinese audience was hearing his voice in Chinese.Behind the scenes, a combination of powerful technologies was at work to bring the moment to life. One, by researchers at Microsoft Research and the University of Toronto, uses a technique patterned after the way people’s brains work, called Deep Neural Networks, which allows for speech recognition significantly more accurate than previous techniques. Another, by Microsoft Research, efficiently maps a person’s voice to another language. When these were combined with the engine behind Bing translator, the conference audience witnessed a dramatic new breakthrough.
If you’re a software developer—or if you follow the work of software developers—you’ve probably heard of TouchDevelop, a Microsoft Research app that enables you to write code for your phone using scripts on your phone. Its ability to bring the excitement of programming to Windows Phone 7 has reaped lots of enthusiasm from the development community over the past year or so.Now, the team behind TouchDevelop has taken things a step further, with a web app that can work on any Windows 8 device with a touchscreen. You can write Windows Store apps simply by tapping on the screen of your device. The web app also works with a keyboard and mouse, but the touchscreen capability means that the keyboard is not required.This reimplementation of TouchDevelop went live just in time for Build, Microsoft’s annual conference that helps developers learn how to take advantage of Windows 8. The conference is being held Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in Redmond, Wash.
How can influential people be identified on social networks? Can Twitter data identify the political ideology of legislators? What, exactly, does it mean that something on the web has “gone viral”?Mushrooming interest in social networking raises many intriguing questions, and in an age of big data, the explosion of content in those networks offers a new means of exploring the answers to those questions. Such opportunities provided the basis for CAOSS 2012, the Workshop on Computational and Online Social Science, held Oct. 12 in the Altschul Auditorium at New York’s Columbia University.The event was organized by Sharad Goel and Jake Hofman of Microsoft Research New York City, researchers who are shaping a new field at the intersection of computer science and social science just as it begins to coalesce.
For the past 13 years, the Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship Program has offered the most prestigious computer-science Ph.D. scholarships in the Asia Pacific region. Hundreds of students have been inspired to excel in the interim, and that reputation was underscored yet again in Tianjin, China, on Oct. 25.As part of the 14th Computing in the 21st Century Conference, co-hosted by Microsoft Research Asia, Nankai University, and Tianjin University, the program recognizes the most outstanding first- or second-year Ph.D. students in the region who are majoring in computer science, electrical engineering, information science, or applied mathematics.“The fellowship program has helped hundreds of outstanding young researchers launch their professional careers,” says Lolan Song, Microsoft Research Asia senior director responsible for academic collaboration in the Asia Pacific region. “I hope the program will be recognized as Asia’s ‘Junior Turing Award’ someday.”