Worldwide, computing power is dramatically transforming our experiences in many domains. In the sciences, huge data sets help us to understand global climate change and devise mitigating strategies. However, abundant data is virtually useless without sophisticated analysis. We must therefore develop advanced algorithms and program complex next-generation multiprocessors to run them.
The accumulation of vast amounts of knowledge is fundamentally transforming problem solving. Lack of documentation is no longer the obstacle—more is now published than can ever be catalogued—even data curation is now a computational science. As we become more connected to our computers, online services quickly evolve to serve our needs while search is transforming into a much more meaningful, contextually-based form of information retrieval.
The Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2010, through lively, creative, and open discourse, investigated these as well as a number of other compelling research topics, such as:
- Architectures of the Future. As computing takes place increasingly in the cloud, we connect via the Internet to vast online data centers. How should we design these? How do we keep them secure? How do we actually program in the cloud? Does this require a new type of software engineering?
- Natural User Interaction. Emerging technologies will help users manage complexity and interact with computers more intuitively. Advances in vision and perception, gesture and other interaction modalities, real-time natural language processing, and integrative intelligence are leading to systems that anticipate user intent rather than just react.
- Future Web / Web 4.0. The web has fundamentally transformed the infrastructure of information exchange by democratizing the semantics of information and social connections. How do we innovate to synthesize knowledge from information? Can interconnected scale and ubiquity, coupled with immense computing power, achieve this? Is it time to embrace intelligent and trusted agents at scale?
- The Challenge of Large Data. To embrace the sweeping changes affecting technical productivity, we will need innovative new platforms for Environmental Science, Astronomy, and nearly every other discipline. Advanced new platforms and visualization tools are now essential for effectively and intelligently processing and analyzing the enormous amounts of data available to the all the sciences.
Background on the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit
Each year, Microsoft Research hosts an annual faculty research summit. Leading academic researchers and educators join with Microsoft researchers to explore the latest research results, collectively discuss the challenges faced by the community, search for the best approaches to meeting those challenges, and identify new research opportunities. The participants’ range of interests and the breadth of the technical areas covered in the program ensure a unique experience and provide a venue for meeting with colleagues and friends across the full range of the computing disciplines.