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Posted by Rob Knies
More than a century ago, 641 Sixth Ave., a Beaux-Arts high-rise in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, housed Simpson, Crawford & Simpson, known for a while as the most elegant department store in New York City.On Aug. 19, this historic 1902 landmark, part of the Ladies’ Mile Historic District, begins the latest chapter in its storied existence by becoming the home for Microsoft Research New York City.For the past 15 months, the New York City lab, founded in May 2012, has occupied temporary space controlled by Microsoft while lab leadership endeavored to locate a welcoming space up to the standards of the world-class research it needed to host. Now, at 20th Street and Sixth Avenue—also known as Avenue of the Americas—the search is complete.
So, if you’re writing a book called On the Efficient Determination of Most Near Neighbors: Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, Web Search and Other Situations When Close is Close Enough, how exactly do you start?You could start by providing an overview of the matter at hand. Or you could start with your own rich research history in the domain being discussed. Or you could just dive right into the discussion with a passage called Cumulative Distribution and Probability Density Functions.But if you’re Mark Manasse, principal researcher at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, and you’re writing a book on the concept of most near neighbors, a book that combines mathematical and engineering principles in an effort to gather together the various research directions in his chosen field, you do all that—but first you lead with a joke.
To hear George Varghese tell it, his research career got off to a rather inauspicious debut.“I wasn’t exactly a shining star when I graduated from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay,” he says. “I was hardly the one who would have been selected the most likely to succeed!”Over the intervening years, though, Varghese’s prospects took a turn for the better. He now is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research Redmond, and he recently was named the 2014 winner of the IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award, one of the IEEE’s Technical Field Awards.
Had your hair cut lately? Most of us probably can answer that one affirmatively. Use a brush or comb? Well, yeah, of course. Does your hair blow in the wind? Only when it’s windy.Such simplistic questions might have you scratching your head. In real life, the appearance of human hair is edited regularly, either by the elements or by ourselves. It’s something so natural, so normal, that we don’t even think about it.Lvdi Wang does, though. That’s because Wang, an associate researcher in the Internet Graphics Group at Microsoft Research Asia, has been working for the past year and a half on improving the appearance of hair in digital images, an enormously challenging task in technical terms.
With today’s mobile devices, users can find shooting high-definition video as easy as snapping a photograph. That should mean, before long, that preserving and sharing bursts of video might become as commonplace as the current practice of exchanging still images.That’s the backdrop for a research project from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Microsoft Research Redmond that captures a spectrum of looping videos with varying levels of dynamism, ranging from a static image to a highly animated loop.The research is detailed in a technical paper, written by Zicheng Liao of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Neel Joshi and Hugues Hoppe of Microsoft Research Redmond, titled Automated Video Looping with Progressive Dynamism. The paper is among the 19 authored all or in part by Microsoft Research that have been accepted for presentation during the 40th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH 2013), being held July 21 to 25 in Anaheim, Calif.