Request for Proposals
Microsoft Research Connections Computer Science, in conjunction with the Research in Software Engineering Group and the Technology Policy Group, is pleased to invite applications for research awards from the Software Engineering Innovation Foundation for 2013 (SEIF 2013). SEIF 2013 follows three successful years of SEIF Awards involving 32 successful principal investigators (PIs).
If you have questions related to this RFP, please send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schedule and Deadlines
- Application deadline: February 1, 2013 (11.30 P.M. Pacific Time)
- Notification of results: April 4, 2013
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.
The areas of devices and services, as well as applications based on natural user interface (NUI), are of particular recent interest—and are areas in which some of the most exciting and innovative work is being done. With the advent of new tablet devices and ever more powerful phones, the possibilities for applications of software engineering have increased considerably. Now that storage and computation in the cloud has become a reality, taking advantage of this resource in new software raises interesting challenges.
NUI-based applications facilitate human-computer interaction (HCI). By integrating seven “NUI interaction paradigms” (see text box), NUI-based applications can promote digital inclusion of the aging population, persons with disabilities, socially or geographically isolated individuals, and underserved populations.
We are therefore pleased to invite researchers from software engineering and relevant disciplines to apply for research awards in software engineering—especially where it is applicable to device and cloud computing and NUI-based applications enabling better digital inclusion. We encourage (but do not require) proposals that utilize Microsoft mobile (Windows Phone) and cloud (Windows 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.
SEIF 2013 awards 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 2013 round of SEIF awards are:
- To stimulate and advance software engineering practices in the development and application of devices and services.
- To continue to support academic research in software engineering technologies, tools, practices, and teaching methods.
Proposals are invited from but not limited to the following areas of interest:
- Programming for devices and services
- Software engineering for gaming
- NUI-based applications for digital inclusion
- Tools for testing and verification
- Software engineering in the cloud
- Data analytics for software development
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.
Mobile and Cloud Computing
- Windows Azure: Microsoft's cloud platform
- Windows Azure Academic Pilot
- Rise4Fun has a large language ecosystem—including IDEs, compilers, and analysis—in the cloud
- Windows Phone Dev Center: development tools for Windows Phone
- Hawaii Services for Windows Phone
- .NET Gadgeteer: rapid prototyping platform for small electronic gadgets and embedded hardware devices
- 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
- Visual Studio F# 3.0: functional programming with information-rich programming
- F*: dependently typed language for secure distributed programming
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
- Common Compiler Intrastructure: CIL-metadata reader/writer, compiler/decompiler framework
- VCC: program verifier for C with contract language
- Z3: automated theorem prover
All of this software is free for download to everyone, except for Windows 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.
We are delighted to announce a new award of US$25,000, which is specifically intended to help fund a project from Brazil. (Brazilian projects may still compete for the other awards as well.)
Microsoft Research anticipates making approximately 15 awards of US$25,000 each. This includes a new award of $25,000, which is specifically intended to help fund a project from Brazil. (Brazilian projects may still compete for the other awards as well.) 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 SEIF awards 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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?
- Related Research: Briefly summarize the current state of the art in this field, including references where appropriate.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Evaluation: How will the results of this project be evaluated?
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
NUI Interaction Paradigms
Peter Haynes, senior director of Advanced Strategies and Research at Microsoft, says NUI-based applications encompass seven integrated “interaction paradigms”:
- Contextual Awareness utilizes key aspects of the context of the user’s situation that a human observer could be expected to notice—including environment, workflow, role, intent, and emotions—to assist with, automate, or complete specific tasks.
- Sensory Input processes natural inputs including vision, voice, multi-touch, and gestures, and communicates back to the user in the most natural and context-appropriate way.
- Language and Intelligence understands key aspects of natural language, infers users’ intentions and goals, generates plans, and engages in dialog to resolve ambiguity and facilitate collaboration.
- Anticipatory Processing uses a user’s past and concurrent actions and workflow to augment task assistance (in other words, task completion and/or automation).
- Environmental Awareness monitors data about a device’s current and past environments—such as proximity (to other devices and resources), geolocation, and movement—to aid task assistance.
- Augmented Interaction uses 3-D, immersive, and telepresence technologies to create the most natural environment in which to interact with the computer, based on a user’s task, attentional focus, and overall situation.
- Adaptive Behavior transitions seamlessly across devices and contexts, so that the user doesn’t have to switch modes; instead, the system adapts.