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Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011






9:00–10:30 Opening Plenary Sessions Kodiak 


Welcome and Introduction—Tony Hey, corporate vice president, Microsoft Research | video | slides

Tony will welcome the attendees of Faculty Summit 2011 and provide a short overview of our collaboration with the research community. He will highlight some of our successful projects and programs and discuss some promising areas for collaboration that hold a high degree of potential value for both academia and Microsoft.


Opening Keynote: Beyond the Interface: Computing TransformedCraig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer, Microsoft | video | slides
Chair: Judith Bishop, Microsoft Research

The NUI revolution is well underway, and exciting new technologies are transforming how we interact with computers, what they can do for us, and who can use them. Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer of Microsoft, explores the technologies Microsoft is investing in and how they are changing the way we live.

10:30–11:00 Break  


Breakout Sessions  


Session: Mobile Computing | video

Challenges and Opportunities
Session Chair: Arjmand Samuel, Microsoft Research



  • Putting the Cloud in the Palm of your HandVictor Bahl, Microsoft Research | slides
  • Participatory mHealth—An Opportunity for Innovation in Healthcare, Wellness, and ResearchDeborah Estrin, University of California, Los Angeles | slides

Mobile computing is the fastest growing segment of computing today. It is envisioned that in the next 10 years there will be more mobile devices sold than fixed computers. For this explosive grown to happen, a number of technical challenges need to be addressed. In this session, researchers from Microsoft Research and the academic community will explore challenges faced in the mobile computing space and outline opportunities for innovation.


Panel: Federal Worlds Meet Future Worlds

Societal Opportunities and Challenges for Information Technology and the Role of the Federal Government

Session Chair: Elizabeth Grossman, Microsoft Research



  • Innovating for Society: Realizing the Promise and Potential of Computing—Keith Marzullo, National Science Foundation
  • Transforming ElectricityRajeev Ram, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy | slides
  • Building Secure and Resilient Systems for the FutureHoward Shrobe, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency | slides

Representatives from federal agencies will discuss how they see information technology enabling the future in various areas relevant to their agencies’ missions—for example, science, education, health, energy, national security—and the associated federal programs and policy issues.


Session: Open Data for Open Science | video

The Microsoft Environmental Informatics Framework (EIF)

Session Chair: Yan Xu, Microsoft Research



  • An Overview of Microsoft Environmental Informatics Framework (EIF)Yan Xu, Microsoft Research | slides
  • Data Sharing Made Easy using ODataAlex James, Microsoft  | slides
  • Data Challenges in Environmental ResearchJohn McGee, Renaissance Computing Institute | slides

Environmental Informatics aims to utilize computing technologies to help solving environmental problems. This emerging interdisciplinary paradigm accelerates the transformation from environmental data to information, to knowledge, and ultimately to social impact. The Environmental Informatics Framework (EIF) is the strategy and research solution we are developing to engage Microsoft technologies with Environmental Informatics. Focusing on data discoverability, accessibility, and consumablility, EIF enables environmental researchers to solve the interoperability problem among vast amount of heterogeneous data. EIF is built on the cutting-edge Microsoft products and innovations that support the Open Data Protocol (OData).

St. Helens 
12:00–15:00 Design Expo | video Kodiak  

Chair: Curtis Wong, Microsoft Research


Opening/Welcome Distinguished CriticsCurtis Wong and Mike Kasprow | slides

  Teams and Presentations

Origin—University of Washingon, Seattle, WA, United States | slides
Daniya Ulgen, Vu Chu, Jason Wong, Ben Mabry, and Nicholas Smith 

In recognition of the shortcomings of current file management systems, Origin seeks to improve the way in which data is tagged, making its operation far more organic (or brain-like) than any typical system. By tagging data with contextual markers, it delivers users what they want, when they want it without degrading opportunities to search for other data.


Voglia—Iuav University of Venice, Venice, Italy
Alice Mortaro, Valeria Refratti, and Amanda Rezza 

The Venice brief, "Thicker than Water," asked students to invent, design, and prototype a system that allows real-time, interactive, but non-verbal communication between dispersed family members. The focus was on sharing emotions, intimacy, and background sensation. Voglia is a connected device, designed as a jewelry pendant, allowing close bodily communication between a couple who are physically apart.


In-NEED—The Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto, Canada
Nermin Moufti and Fareena Chanda 

In-NEED is a system for managing the community’s response to natural disasters through the use of mobile technologies. In-NEED addresses the humanitarian need of pre-emptive “survivor” systems/networks that engage and mobilize people within the community to act and share existing resources to mitigate the impact of natural disasters in the all-important hours directly preceding the event. By using existing technologies, localized platforms, and developing low-cost community nodes, In-NEED serves as a virtual survival kit.


Walk.It—New York University | Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York City, NY , United States | slides
Jennifer Ho, Doug Thistlewaite, Jihyun Moon, and Miguel Bermudez 

Walk.It is an online platform that allows anyone to create and share neighborhood maps that mimic the same personality and charm of a hand-drawn map from a friend. Believing that the form of the map breeds comfort and familiarity, along with the connected power of community and curation, Walk.It is designed to foster exploration and investigation.


Porta Vox—Ibero Universidad de México, Mexico City, Mexico 
Fernanda Diez, Mariana Pintado, Julio Palomino, and Ricardo Gómez  

It is well known that in many urban centers crime of any kind—but particularly those of a violent nature—are seldom reported. Porta Vox is a system that creates a community-reporting tool that helps track and reduce incidents of crime in urban areas. The belief is that by making the means of reporting present, simple, and connected, it can reduce the stigma and fear that is associated with reporting. The intended outcome is to reduce crime and the fear of crime, thus making cities eminently more livable.


Apart – Together—Tongji University, Shanghai, China  

Wei Wang, Hong Chen, Choi Yuna, and Ismo Sutela 

The Tongji University project team of interdisciplinary students has focused on the growing trend of parents leaving behind their children in second and third tier cities for the large first-tier cities in hopes of finding better economic opportunities. This trend is growing quickly, currently effecting more than 130 million parents and more than 50 million children who are now being raised by their grandparents. This separation between parent and children has a huge emotional impact and introduces some unique challenges of Chinese society today. The Apart – Together team has focused on a solution to improve the emotional bond between children and parents that are currently living in this situation.


ClosingCurtis Wong and Mike Kasprow  


Lunchtime Session

St. Helens 

Session: Games for Learning in the 21st Century | video

Session Chair: Donald Brinkman, Microsoft Research

Speaker: Ken Perlin, New York University | slides

With their vast popularity and singular ability to engage young people, digital games have been hailed as a new paradigm for education in the 21st century. But researchers know surprisingly little about how successful games work. What are the key design elements that make certain games compelling, playable, and fun? How do game genres differ in their educational effectiveness for specific topics and for specific learners? How do kids learn when they play games? Does the setting (classroom versus casual) matter? How can games be used to prepare future learning, introduce new material, or strengthen and expand existing knowledge? How are games designed to best facilitate the transfer of learning to everyday lives? And how can we use all of this knowledge to guide future game design?


The Games for Learning Institute (G4LI) seeks to answer these questions, pointing the way to a new era of game use in education, by applying a scientifically rigorous approach. Researchers study existing games, identify key design elements and learning patterns, develop prototype mini-games based on these elements and patterns, and evaluate them in classroom and informal learning settings.


This talk will provide a peek inside how the G4LI does all this.

12:30–13:30  Lunch   


Breakout Sessions  

Session: Cloud Security and Privacy

Session Chair: Kristin Lauter, Microsoft Research



  • Cryptographic Cloud Storage and ServicesKristin Lauter, Microsoft Research | slides
  • Encryption as Access Control for Cloud SecurityCarl Gunter, University of Illinois | slides
  • The Economics of Cloud Computing: Why a Brooklyn Latte Buys a Million Unforgeable SignaturesRadu Sion, Stony Brook University | slides

New and emerging cryptographic techniques allow outsourcing of private and sensitive data to cloud operators running in big data centers. Medical data is particularly sensitive and privacy can have tremendous value in this space. Some recent projects and solutions focus on protecting patients’ privacy in several different ways, while maintaining the ability to use data flexibly for medical research and regional cost-saving efforts. Examples include protecting patients’ records through encryption and anonymizing interactions with insurance companies. Many of these same techniques are more broadly applicable to Cloud Security and Privacy issues.


Session: Kinect for Windows SDK | video

Community Update and Next Steps

Session Chair & Speaker: Stewart Tansley, Microsoft Research

Special Guest: Anoop Gupta, Microsoft Research | slides

This session introduces the Kinect for Windows SDK, launched just a month ago. We describe its backstory and an overview of its contents. We provide a summary on its first month’s availability and where we are headed together with you - including a key opportunity for feedback from the research community with us today. Later today at DemoFest, we provide a hands-on (hands-free!) opportunity to discuss the SDK and its use in your research and teaching. Tomorrow, we offer the rare opportunity of a full two-session tutorial hosted by some of the key developers of the SDK.


Session: Reinventing Education

Session Chair: Donald Brinkman, Microsoft Research



  • Making Discovery Visible: A Participatory Approach to Developing Games for Broadening Participation In ScienceKurt Squire, University of Wisconsin at Madison | slides
  • Unlike Broccoli For Chocolate: Foldit, Refraction, and How Embedded Assessment is Changing the Game of EducationSeth Cooper, University of Washington | slides
  • Assessment? #%&! Why Traditional Assessment Takes the Fun out of Game DesignTracy Fullerton, University of Southern California | slides

We stand at the threshold of a new kind of education, one that leverages technology and the increasing interconnectedness of society to teach 21st-century skills; changes the way that traditional subjects are taught; provides ubiquitous platforms for assessment, content, and identity; and ultimately realizes the long-standing vision of adaptive education, games for learning, and longitudinal educational research. There is a new awareness of this potential in government, private institutions, and academia. Learn more about the various ways that we can reinvent education and how you can help.

St. Helens 
15:00–15:30 Break  


Plenary Session Kodiak 


Neither Basic Nor Applied: Lessons from Computing Research in Academia, Government, and Now Industry—Peter Lee, distinguished scientist and managing director, Microsoft Research | video | slides 

I've been on a bit of a journey, going from academic, to government, and now to industrial research organizations. What I've learned along the way is that computing research is different. Unlike most sciences, distinctions such as "basic" versus "applied" don't really apply to computing research. Furthermore, recently popularized concepts such as "Pasteur's Quadrant" are far too limited to be useful.


In this talk, I'll describe my journey and how this has shaped my view of computing research. I'll explain how this has affected my plans for Microsoft Research Redmond and in the process introduce the DemoFest, which features examples that illustrate the uniqueness of computing's intoxicating blend of invention, discovery, and engineering. I'll conclude with some comments on why this is so important to the success of both Microsoft and, more broadly, the computing field.


DemoFest and Appetizers  
  Chairs: Dean Guo, Microsoft Research; Michael Zyskowski, Microsoft Research   


Tuesday, July 19, 2011







Breakout Sessions  


Session: Refactoring with Roslyn Circus Comes to Town | video

Session Chair: Mike Barnett, Microsoft Research



  • Project Roslyn: Exposing the VB and C# Compiler’s Code AnalysisKaren Ng, Microsoft | slides
  • Beyond Behavior PreservationRalph Johnson, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign | slides
  • How Are Developers Using Refactoring Tools?Emerson Murphy-Hill, North Carolina State University | slides

The moment we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived! The Microsoft .NET compilers are going to give access to the internals of the compilation pipeline, with handy IDE integration too! Language research on .NET will become easier than ever, permitting new kinds of refactoring and compiler/runtime research. In this talk, you’ll see how to use the new APIs to do all sorts of fancy tricks. See automatic parallelization! Thrill to cross-language cut-and-paste! Be amazed at deep semantic analyses!

St. Helens 

Tutorial: Kinect for Windows SDK – Introduction and Overview | video

Session Chair: Stewart Tansley, Microsoft Research

Speaker: Gavin Jancke, Microsoft Research | slides

This is the first of two tutorial sessions about the Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit (SDK). We will introduce the SDK and provide an overview of its contents and how developers can use them to create rich natural user interfaces.


Session: The Many Facets of Big Data | video

Session Chair: Roger Barga, Microsoft Research



  • Cosmos: a Petabyte-Scale Store and Computation Platform—Pat Helland, Microsoft | slides
  • Scientific Data Analysis Today: From Terabytes to PetabytesAlex Szalay, Johns Hopkins University | slides

Today there are at least three distinct lines of research and development that have blossomed in Big Data, each with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities: (1) Big-data storage: systems that store really big (as in hundreds of Petabytes) amounts of data; (2) Big-data analytics: systems that use new information models and analytics processes to crunch really big amounts of data from multiple sources and deliver information in real or near real time; (3) Big-data hardware architectures, the networking, storage subsystems and compute runtimes that support both data storage and big-data analytics. This session starts off with talks from three leaders in the area of Big Data, specifically a talk from OSD on how BING processes petabytes of data nightly, the failure rates and issues they encounter, followed by a talk from SQL Server outlining new information processing patterns emerging in how we extract insight from data closer to the actual source, and we close with a talk from an external researcher detailing efforts to build a data analytics appliance to support data intensive research. As host I will have prepared questions to ensure the final 30 minutes of discussion is lively/productive.






Breakout Sessions  


Session: Semantic Knowledge for Commodity Computing | video

Myth or Reality? Information and Knowledge Acquisition: Has the Problem Been Solved?

Session Chair: Evelyne Viegas, Microsoft Research



Semantic knowledge constitutes one of the building blocks to human understanding. For computers to become more intelligent, we need to find ways to first produce knowledge in reliable and scalable manner, and then, to use that information to derive new knowledge. This comes with several challenges, acquisition bottleneck, and inference complexity. This Faculty Summit session will discuss these challenges and investigates answers via affinity groups created over the two sessions to get semantic knowledge close to a commodity computing resource. Session 1 explores steps to acquiring semantic knowledge at scale from terabytes of data, following approaches where training data have been successfully applied to several applications such as machine translation information extraction and question answering. These resources are contrasted with richer hand crafted knowledge sources. The discussion will explore the need for a hybrid approach making usage of automation and collective intelligence to bypass the acquisition bottleneck.


Tutorial: Kinect for Windows SDK – Deep Dive | video

Session Chair: Stewart Tansley, Microsoft Research 



This is the second of two tutorial sessions about the Kinect for Windows SDK. In this tutorial, we will look more closely at how developers can use the APIs, sample code, and drivers that are included in the SDK to build Kinect capabilities into their applications.


Session: The Rise of Dynamic Languages for Scientific Computing | video | slides

Session Chair: Sumit Basu, Microsoft Research



  • Part I: An Overview of Dynamic Languages: How They’re Different, Why They’re Popular, and Where They’re Being UsedJan Vitek, Purdue University
  • Part II: Recent Advances in Dynamic LanguagesJan Vitek, Purdue University

Dynamic programming environments—like Python, R, and Matlab—are the new paradigm of scientific computing, particularly for data-intensive work, due to their ease of use, instant feedback, flexible visualization capabilities, and large set of available libraries. In this session, we will describe the what, where, why, and how of this trend: what dynamic languages are and how they are different, where they are being used, why the shift is happening, how it improves productivity, the perceived versus real differences in performance, and much more.

St. Helens 


Lunchtime Session St. Helens 


Session: Diversity in Undergrad Programs | video

What YOU can Do to Recruit and Retain Undergraduate Women for Your Computing Programs

Session Chair: Jane Prey, Microsoft Research



Do you want to learn some simple, straightforward tactics to use to increase the gender diversity within your computing program? Do you want to learn how to share some tips and tricks with your colleagues? This session will provide practical how-to information and practices. Panelists will share results from programs that implemented research-based recruiting and retention strategic initiatives to successfully increase the number of undergraduate women the program. Participants will receive supporting resources, including workbooks, promising practice sheets, and cards with talking points. Participating faculty will be able to return to their institutions with immediately actionable activities and a framework for long-term sustainability.

12:30–13:30 Lunch  
13:30–15:00 Breakout Sessions  

Session: Semantic Knowledge for Commodity Computing | video

Myth or Reality? Focus on Information Mining and Intelligence: How Much Inference is Needed?

Session Chair: Evelyne Viegas, Microsoft Research



  • Text and Context: Using Context to Better Understand Searcher’s IntentionsSusan Dumais, Microsoft Research | slides
  • Learning to Map Sentences to MeaningLuke Zettlemoyer, University of Washington | slides
  • Citizen Sensing—Opportunities and Challenges in Mining Social Signals and PerceptionsAmit Sheth, Wright University | slides
  • Semantics and Knowledge-Enabled Experiences for Search and DiscoveryM. Srikanth, Microsoft | slides

Following on from the previous session, this one will look into the use of such semantic knowledge (domain small knowledge bases) as opposed to larger scale, domain independent knowledge bases in the context of tasks such as, for instance, information mining of text, images, or videos. The discussion will contrast the amount of inference needed in each case.  



Panel: NUI—The Road Ahead

Session Chair: Kristin Tolle, Microsoft Research



Last year, we presented a slice through a representative sample of NUI research at Microsoft Research and some of our key research partnerships with academia. This year we convene a single panel to discuss the state of the art in NUI, key trends, and where we go from here as a combined research community


Tutorial: Sho—Scientific Computing on .NET Steroids | video

Speaker: Sumit Basu, Microsoft Research | slides

Sho, based on Microsoft’s IronPython, is a dynamic programming environment that connects seamlessly to Microsoft .NET, making a broad set of languages, libraries, and computing resources instantly available to your scripts. It also gives you all of the math and visualization libraries you have come to expect from other computing environments. In this tutorial, we will explain what Sho is and what it can do for you, and also guide you through a series of programming exercises to get you up and running in Sho. We will start with simple plots and matrix computations and lead up to complex connections to custom code, running code on clusters and the cloud, and even making websites that run your algorithms so that you can make your work easily accessible to the world. If you would like to participate in the workshop, please bring your laptop; it would be very helpful if you install the latest version of Sho before you arrive.


The tutorial will be divided into:


  • An overview of Sho: architecture, features, and capabilities
  • A workshop: group programming exercises to get you up and running
St. Helens 
15:00–15:30 Break  


Closing Plenary Sessions Kodiak 


Presentation of Awards—Rick Rashid, senior vice president, Microsoft Research | video


Keynote: Vision-Based Natural User InterfacesRick Szeliski, Microsoft Research | video | slides

Chair: Kristin Tolle, Microsoft Research

Even though computer vision remains one of the great unsolved Grand Challenges of computing, vision techniques are maturing at a rapid pace and finding their way into a large number of applications. Among these are natural user interfaces based on a visual understanding of scenes, actions, and three-dimensional data.


In this talk, I survey a number of computer vision technologies that were developed at Microsoft Research over the last decade, including:


  • Recognizing human poses and actions for range data (Kinect)
  • Segmenting and recognizing organs in three-dimensional (3-D) medical images
  • Stitching together dozens to hundreds of photographs for seamless navigation of panoramas, street side images, and 3-D object movies
  • Recognizing manufactured objects with your cell phone for quick comparison shopping

I will also discuss some of the challenging open problems in our field.


Buses depart for Argosy Cruise on Lake Washington



Wednesday, July 20, 2011







Breakout Sessions  


Session: Using Program Verification Tools in Teaching

Session Chair: Rustan Leino, Microsoft Research



  • A Tour of DafnyRustan Leino, Microsoft Research | slides
  • Experience with Using Dafny for Teaching an Introductory Course on Program ReasoningRajeev Joshi, NASA JPL
  • Teaching Using Spec# in Europe: A Experience Report from University Teaching and Various Verification TutorialsRosemary Monahan, National University of Ireland, Maynooth | slides

This session will start with a tutorial on the language and program verifier Dafny. The language is object-based and including constructs for writing contracts like pre- and postconditions and loop invariants. The verifier runs in the background of the Visual Studio IDE and guides the programmer toward correct programs. One of the most promising uses of Dafny lies in teaching the concepts of program correctness to students. This session then continues with an experience report from using Spec# and Dafny at NUIM, Caltech, Nancy, and other schools and tutorials, as well as a discussion on how to share in teaching material used to teach programming using tools.

St. Helens 

Session: Medical Visualization | video

Medical Imaging on the Microsoft Platform

Session Chair: Rick Benge, Microsoft Research



  • Advanced Medical Imaging Research at Microsoft and its Applications on Product GroupsKhan Siddiqui, Microsoft
  • Inner Eye: Toward a Computational Platform for Imaging MetadataSteve White, Microsoft | slides
  • Applications of Advanced Semantic Tagging in Clinical SettingsDavid Haynor, University of Washington | slides

Analysis and metadata extraction and from medical image data represent significant computational challenges, but current open source efforts in the field of medical imaging focus on sharing code rather than sharing information. A common platform enabling researchers to benchmark and integrate very different analysis techniques in a common environment, and exchange both data and analyses on the web, would greatly accelerate research in this area. In this session, the speakers will present three different aspects of how Microsoft and its partners are addressing these challenges in terms of research, development, and real-world deployment.


Session: Microsoft Academic Search: Next-Generation Scholarly Discovery | video

Session Chair: Alex Wade, Microsoft Research



  • Under the Hood of Microsoft Academic SearchXin Zou, Microsoft Research | slides
  • Eigenfactor Metrics: A Network Approach to Assessing Scholarly Journals / Eigenfactor: Ranking and Mapping Scientific KnowledgeJevin West, University of Washington | slides
  • What's Next for Microsoft Academic SearchAdnan Mahmud, Microsoft Research | slides

Based on the original research work and prototype that was produced at Microsoft Research Asia, Microsoft Academic Search (MAS) is becoming the "go-to" search engine that researchers use to conduct in-depth searches for relevant research papers, trends, conferences, and colleagues. To help the academic community further advance their work, Microsoft Research has opened up MAS and made it a cloud-based, knowledge service platform with intelligent data inside. At this session, Dr. Wei-Ying Ma and his team members provide an overview of MAS and related research work. The session will also demonstrate how to build user-defined applications that are based on MAS and how to take advantage of the power of the community to improve the experience of academic search.


Session: Computational Science Research in Latin America | video

Session Chair: Jaime Puente, Microsoft Research  



  • Live Andes (Advanced Network for the Distribution of Endangered Species): A New Tool for WildlifeCristian Bonacic, Catholic University of Chile | slides
  • The FAPESP-Microsoft Virtual Research Institute in São Paulo, BrazilCarlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, FAPESP | slides
  • The Brazilian Biodiversity Database and Information System: SinBIOTATiago Duque Estrada, UNICAMP | slides
  • LACCIR Federation: Building Research Capacity and Collaboration for ICT Innovation in Latin America and the CaribbeanDomingo Mery, Catholic University of Chile | slides

This session will provide a brief background about the organization and infrastructure of two virtual research institutes that Microsoft Research has established in Latin American and the Caribbean. One, in the State of São Paulo, Brazil, partnering with its research foundation (FAPESP), is called MSR-FAPESP Institute for ICT Research. The other is called LACCIR (Latin American and Caribbean Collaborative ICT Research Federation) and covers the entire region in partnership with top-tier research universities, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Organization of American States (OAS). The goal of these two virtual research institutes is to foster ICT research capacity building by exploring the application of computer science to fundamental research challenges in education, healthcare, energy, and the various disciplines  that are associated with environmental sciences. During this session, projects conducted by the MSR-FAPESP and LACCIR will be discussed as examples of research from this emerging region.






Closing Plenary Session Kodiak 


Closing Keynote: Future Social ExperiencesLili Cheng, Microsoft Research | video | slides

Chair: Dennis Gannon, Microsoft Research

Today, social software, which was initially embraced by youth who were interested in self-expression, meeting new people, and staying in touch with friends, influences a broad set of people—including traditional companies, governments, and people of all ages. It has changed the way people socialize online, making words such as: "liking," "friending," "status," and "tweeting" commonplace.


In designing future social experience, we explore:


  • Where is social software trending?
  • How does research and innovation in this fast-paced area differ from other traditional areas in computer science?
  • How might we use lessons learned from social software to influence learning and education in the area of science and technology?

What we see today, the Internet and social networks connecting people via status messaging, is just a beginning. It is our hope that social software can deliver in its promise to motivate people to action, improve the quality of life and social wellbeing, and help us solve meaningful problems and create amazing things together.

Closing RemarksJudith Bishop, Microsoft Research; Dennis Gannon, Microsoft Research

12:30–13:30 Lunch