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Windows on Theory
Posted by Rob Knies
A few months ago, I got a chance to talk with Thore Graepel of Microsoft Research Cambridge about Project Waterloo, a Facebook game that is part of the Research Games project exploring behavioral game theory at a global scale.Now, Graepel and his teammates are at it again, this time with Doubloon Dash, another game available on Facebook. While Project Waterloo enables players to allocate troops efficiently over a collection of battlefields, Doubloon Dash—a nautical scramble for a pirate’s buried treasure —offers a competition in which a pair of players have to invest, but only one can win.
One of the singular advantages of working for Microsoft—and for Microsoft Research, in particular—is the opportunity to work on products and technologies that have a positive influence on multitudes worldwide.Henrique Malvar, Microsoft distinguished engineer and chief scientist at Microsoft Research, knows that all too well—as do his peers. On Feb. 9, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced that Malvar had been elected as a member of that prestigious group.“Being a member of the National Academy of Engineering is the pinnacle of awards for an engineer,” said Malvar, 54, a native of Rio de Janeiro. “It’s the strongest recognition a person in any area of engineering can receive for a career of contributions. I’m very much honored by this.”
Computing in the 21st century increasingly is embracing touch interaction. Whether it be on mobile handhelds, large electronic displays, or something in between, such user interfaces are becoming commonplace.Interestingly, researchers from Microsoft Research Redmond are expanding that modern-day model of interaction using research breakthroughs from the 1990s combined with the latest in touch functionality.In-Place, a project by Michel Pahud, Ken Hinckley, and Bill Buxton, is the result. The work uses “bi-manual commands,” which means two hands working seamlessly together, such as touch with an index finger to move a menu toward the dominant hand so it can select a tool.
Saikat Guha is nothing if not passionate about his research, and the goal of his current work can be stated in two words: better ads.“I am building experimental systems,” states Guha, a researcher in the Mobility, Networks, and Systems group at Microsoft Research India, “that preserve user privacy, show highly relevant ads, and give advertisers a clear idea about their return on investment.”That dedication and focus is part of the reason why Technology Review has named Guha to its annual TR35 list of the world’s top innovators under the age of 35.
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.