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SEIF Proposal Submissions

Microsoft Research Awards

Request for Proposals

Software Engineering Innovation Foundation (SEIF) RFP 2014Microsoft Research Connections Computer Science—in conjunction with the Research in Software Engineering Group, the Sensing and Energy Research Group, and Global Foundation Services—is pleased to invite applications for the 2014 Microsoft Research Award for the Software Engineering Innovation Foundation (SEIF). The Microsoft Research Award for SEIF 2014 follow four years of awards involving 48 successful principal investigators.


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If you have questions related to this RFP, please send an email message to

Schedule and deadlines

  • Application deadline: January 31, 2014 (11.30 P.M. Pacific Time)  
  • Notification of results: March 24, 2014


Today, research in software engineering encompasses foundational software engineering research, as well as research in the application of software engineering to a wide range of computer science and engineering disciplines. These disciplines include systems and networking technologies, hardware design, programming languages, security, and privacy, to name a few. Microsoft Research actively engages with researchers across these disciplines to advance the state of the art in software engineering applications and tools.

Software engineering applications and tools for the “Internet of Things” are of recent interest—and are areas in which some of the most exciting and innovative work is being done. With the advent of low cost sensors and smart devices, coupled with software based interconnectivity and control of such devices, the possibilities of application of software engineering have increased considerably. Taking advantage of software engineering methods and tools in this new world of Internet of Things, and developing new ideas, paradigms, and tools raises interesting challenges.

The cloud is becoming an intrinsic part of future software. At the same time, modern software engineering is challenging how cloud infrastructures are designed and operated. We seek advances at the intersection of data center infrastructure, networking, distributed computing, and software engineering to deliver cloud-scale services at low cost, high availability, and high efficiency.

Invitation to submit

We are therefore pleased to invite researchers from software engineering and relevant disciplines to apply for Microsoft Research Awards in software engineering—especially where it is applicable to the Internet of Things. We encourage proposals that utilize Microsoft mobile (Windows Phone) and cloud (Microsoft Azure) platforms, as well as other Microsoft technologies and Microsoft Research’s free tools and technologies. Some relevant and newly released technologies and tools are listed below. A practical application or evaluation component is strongly encouraged.

Microsoft Research Awards for SEIF 2014 will support projects for one year. On completion of the projects, the principal investigator (PI) for each project will be invited to an optional event to present his or her work.


The goals of the 2014 round of Microsoft Research Awards for SEIF are:

  • To continue to support academic research in software engineering technologies, tools, practices, and teaching methods.
  • To stimulate and advance software engineering practices, development of tools, and programming paradigms for the Internet of Things
  • To encourage application of software engineering methodologies to data center infrastructure design and management, enabling delivery of cloud-scale services

Proposals are invited from, but not limited to, the following areas of interest:

  • Software engineering in and for the cloud
  • Data analytics for software development and engineering
  • Programming paradigms and software engineering tools for the Internet of Things
  • Tools for testing and verification
  • Tools and technologies challenging computer science education in general, and teaching of programming in particular
  • Empowering end users with program synthesis
  • Programming in the presence of uncertainty and approximation
  • Infrastructure for cloud-scale software
    • Server, storage, interconnect, and data center architecture and design
    • Intra- and inter-data center networking
    • Resource models and resource-aware programming models
    • Resource provisioning, monitoring, and control for cloud computing

SEIF encourages the winners of the awards to place the results of the research funded by the award in the public domain.


Microsoft offers a wide range of platforms and services of direct relevance to the call. PIs are encouraged to use these, as well as Microsoft Research’s free tools and frameworks. A selection of these follows.

Devices and “Internet of Things”

Software engineering in the cloud

Sharing of tools and teaching

  • Rise4Fun allows visitors to interact directly with new tools and languages, developed by Microsoft and others—including IDEs, compilers, and analysis—in the cloud
  • TouchDevelop: programming on touch devices, including tablets and phones 

Design, programming, and services

  • Microsoft Visual Studio Ultimate: for lifecycle management of project development
  • Debugger Canvas: a new user experience for the debugger in Microsoft Visual Studio Ultimate
  • DKAL: a distributed authorization policy language
  • FORMULA: a modern formal specification language targeting model-based development
  • F*: dependently typed language for secure distributed programming
  • P: a language for asynchronous event-driven programming
  • Visual Studio F# 3.0: functional programming with information-rich programming and Try F#
  • Koka: a function-oriented language with effect inference

Dynamic analysis tools

  • Code Contracts: language-agnostic contracts for Microsoft .NET
  • CHESS: concurrency testing tools
  • Detours: for detouring Win32 and application APIs
  • Pex: automatic unit testing tool for Microsoft .NET
  • Stubs: lightweight test stubs and detouring for Microsoft .NET

Static analysis and program verification

  • Bek: fast and precise sanitizer analysis using regular transducers
  • Boogie: intermediate language for targeting program verifiers
  • VCC: program verifier for C with contract language
  • Z3: automated theorem prover
  • Common Compiler Infrastructure: CIL-metadata reader/writer, compiler/decompiler framework

Infrastructure for cloud-scale software

Additional resources

All of this software is free for download to by everyone, except for Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Visual Studio, which are free to universities that are enrolled in DreamSpark. You can check if your institution is registered and who the person to contact to obtain this and other software on the DreamSpark website. The Microsoft Azure Research Award program offers opportunity to propose and, if accepted, get access to an allocation of Microsoft Azure storage and compute resources.

Monetary awards

Microsoft Research anticipates making approximately 10 awards of US$40,000 each. All awards are in the form of unrestricted gifts, which are delivered directly to the universities for the purpose of funding the winning proposals.

The awards are intended to be used for seed-funding larger initiatives, proofs of concept, or demonstrations of feasibility. It is important to understand that funding is not expected to continue after the first year and that PIs who are granted the Microsoft Research Award for SEIF should therefore make every effort to use the award as one component of a diverse funding base in a larger or longer-running project. Proposals with a clear plan to secure co-funding are encouraged.


Proposals will be accepted only from: (i) accredited universities awarding degrees at the baccalaureate level or above or (ii) research institutions with non-profit status. The competition is open to all eligible universities and institutions worldwide.

Proposals that are incomplete, inaccurate, or are otherwise not responsive to the stated aims, terms, and conditions of this request for proposals (RFP) may, at the sole discretion of Microsoft Research, be excluded from consideration.

Submission process

Proposals must be written in English and submitted through the online application tool.

Microsoft shall have no obligation to maintain the confidentiality of any submitted proposals. Therefore, proposals should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive. Microsoft Research and the Technology Policy Group reserve the right to make the winning proposals publicly available, except those portions containing budgetary or personally identifiable information.

The submission process includes two parts.

  1. Brief summary and contact information: Applicants provide full contact information for principal investigators, amount requested, and a brief abstract. This information should be entered into the web form during the online proposal submission process.
  2. Complete project proposal: The proposal contains full details of the proposed project in a maximum of five letter-sized (8.5-inch × 11-inch) pages, 10-point font, in either Microsoft Word or PDF format. The project proposal will be made available for peer review by Microsoft researchers.

The research project proposal should address the following points:

  1. Problem statement: What is the problem addressed by the proposal, and why is it important? What is the potential contribution to the field of the project if successful? Cite relevant work in the field as appropriate.
  2. Expected outcomes: What tangible assets will be created or produced as a result of the proposed project? How will the results of this project be disseminated to others?
  3. Related research: Briefly summarize the current state of the art in this field, including references where appropriate.
  4. Benefits to the community: Include a statement of the profile of the community served by the proposal and how the project addresses issues and challenges in that community.
  5. Schedule: What milestones will be used to measure progress of the project during the year and when will they be completed? If the project described is part of a larger ongoing research program, estimate the time for completion of this project only.
  6. Qualifications of principal investigator: For the PI, include a brief description of any relevant prior research, publications, or other professional experience. A detailed CV or list of publications is not required; you may include a personal webpage address instead.
  7. Evaluation: How will the results of this project be evaluated?
  8. Use of Microsoft technologies: Describe the Microsoft tools and technologies to be used in this project. If software is to be developed, give details of the tools to be used, the number of software developers, and the proposed timescale. Does the software to be developed require the incorporation of code from commercial or public-domain libraries? If so, please provide details. (Note that successful proposals are not required to use Microsoft tools or technologies.)
  9. Use of funds: Provide a budget (in U.S. dollars) describing how the award will be used. The budget does not have to be detailed, and should be presented as a table with the total budget request clearly indicated.
  10. Other support: Include other contributions to this project (cash, goods, and services), if any, but do not include the use of university facilities that are otherwise provided on an ongoing basis. Note: Authors of winning proposals will be required to submit an original letter on department letterhead certifying the commitment of any additional or matching support described in the proposal.

Selection process and criteria

Proposals will be peer-reviewed by a panel of experts chosen by Microsoft Research. Based on evaluations by the review panel, Microsoft Research will select the most worthy proposals for funding.

All proposals will be evaluated based upon the following criteria:

  • Well-defined goals and objectives that, if achieved, have the potential to have a significant impact on the software engineering community. These goals must be achievable within the timescale of the funded project, and, where appropriate, placed into the context of milestones in a larger or longer-running project.
  • Potential for wide dissemination and use of intellectual property created, including specific plans for publications, conference presentations, distance learning, and so on, as well as plans to distribute content in multiple formats or languages. Microsoft encourages proposals to openly disseminate tools, technologies, processes, and educational materials.
  • Ability to complete the project, including the adequacy of resources available, reasonableness of timelines, and number and qualifications of identified contributors.
  • Qualifications of the principal investigator, including previous history of work in the area, successful completion of previous funded projects, teaching awards, books published, and so on.


  • As a condition of accepting an award, PIs agree that Microsoft may use their name and likeness to publicize their proposals (including all proposal content) in connections with the promotion of the research awards in all media now known or later developed.
  • The review process is an internal one and no feedback on the reviews will be given to submitters.
  • At the end of the proposed project, PIs are encouraged (but not required) to publicize their work in academic conferences and/or journals.