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Latin American Faculty Summit 2012
Riviera Maya, Mexico | May 23–25, 2012

View videos of the presentations from the summit.

Advancing Environmental Understanding: the Role of eScience
Advancing Environmental Understanding: the Role of eScience
00:42:57 · 24 May 2012

Our understanding of the world around us is evolving, and with evolution comes the need for adaptation. Environmental scientific research increasingly has to adapt—from dealing with increasingly large and growing datasets, to trying to credibly inform the public and policy makers. There is a need to have new types of applications grounded in scientific research to move from raw discovery, to knowledge, to informing practical decisions. Understanding environmental changes from the levels of neighborhoods, to regions, to the globe is the focus of scientific study and policy decisions. Technology reinforced by computing is demonstrating the capacity to improve our environmental understanding.

Using Computer Vision for Graphics
Using Computer Vision for Graphics
00:34:43 · 24 May 2012

Creating compelling-looking content by using conventional graphics techniques is often laborious and requires significant artistry and experience. Over the past few years, I have been looking into how this content-creation process can be simplified through using computer vision techniques.

In this talk, I describe a variety of projects undertaken with this goal in mind, discussing how computer vision techniques can be used to simplify animations of Chinese paintings by analyzing brush strokes; to generate free-viewpoint videos from a small number of cameras; to produce 3-D models of plants and trees from images; and to personalize automatic enhancements of photographs.

Deep Neural Networks for Speech and Image Processing
Deep Neural Networks for Speech and Image Processing
00:34:36 · 24 May 2012

Neural networks are experiencing a renaissance, thanks to a new mathematical formulation, known as restricted Boltzmann machines, and the availability of powerful GPUs and increased processing power. Unlike past neural networks, these new ones can have many layers and thus are called 'deep neural networks'; and because they are a machine-learning technique, the technology is also known as 'deep learning.'

In this talk, I describe this new formulation and its signal-processing application in such fields as speech recognition and image recognition. In all these applications, deep neural networks have resulted in significant reductions in error rate. This success has sparked great interest from computer scientists, who are also eager to learn from neuroscientists how neurons in the brain work.

Moving the Needle and Growing Women in Computing in Latin America
Moving the Needle and Growing Women in Computing in Latin America
00:52:00 · 24 May 2012

Learn about pilot programs launched in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico to expand the numbers and influence of women in computing. These programs are supported by Microsoft Research Connections' Latin America Women in Computing Call for Proposals. Learn about the programs’ goals and progress to date, and hear about what has worked and what hasn’t. Join the discussion and provide ideas on how we can make a difference in growing women in computing in Latin America, and learn about opportunities to apply for a similar program in the future.

Specialized Machine Translation Using the Microsoft Translator Hub - Customized Models for Language Preservation and Domain Specific Deployment
Specialized Machine Translation Using the Microsoft Translator Hub - Customized Models for Language Preservation and Domain Specific Deployment
00:32:17 · 24 May 2012

This talk provides an overview of an enhancement that enables the Microsoft Translator to provide targeted and customizable translation systems. This new system, called the Microsoft Translator Hub, enables personalized, private, and/or crowdsourced translation models to be independently built by companies, communities, and language preservationists.

By way of example, this talk also covers the recent release of Hmong Daw—the first language to be empowered by the Microsoft Translator Hub—including the lessons learned during the Hmong community's pre-release and post-release usage of the tool for language preservation purposes.

The Golem Project: a Laboratory for the Construction of Service Robots
The Golem Project: a Laboratory for the Construction of Service Robots
01:06:43 · 24 May 2012

A service robot is a system with inferential, perceptual, and action capabilities oriented to assist people with diverse daily living tasks. In this talk, we present an overview of the conceptual framework and methodology that went into the construction of the Golem series of service robots, which were developed over the last few years by the Golem group at IIMAS, UNAM. We discuss the current state of the technology, highlighting the kinds of advances that are required for service robots to perform well in the RoboCup competition, especially in the @Home category. The talk concludes with two reflections: one about the value of service robots in practical settings, and the other about the construction of service robots as a case study of technological development in the Latin American context.

Big Data and the Cloud Phenomenon
Big Data and the Cloud Phenomenon
00:45:09 · 24 May 2012

Big data and cloud computing are two of the hottest areas in computer science research. In this talk, we cover the architecture design patterns and research challenges involved in building large, linearly scalable systems.

Experiences in Software Engineering
Experiences in Software Engineering
01:04:04 · 24 May 2012

Over the past last two and one-half years, the engineering team within Microsoft Research Connections has shipped 15 exciting software products for academics and researchers, including Microsoft Translator Hub, ChronoZoom, Layerscape, Try F#, Project Hawaii, .NET Bio, and the Chemistry Add-in for Word. How does a team of eight full-time Microsoft engineers consistently deliver great software for academics? What lessons have they learned in the process? Join us for this interactive talk to find out.

Probabilistic Graphical Models: Applications in Biomedicine
Probabilistic Graphical Models: Applications in Biomedicine
00:41:21 · 24 May 2012

Probabilistic graphical models include a variety of techniques based on probability and decision theory-techniques that give us a theoretically well-founded basis for making decisions under conditions of uncertainty and to solve complex problems efficiently. Over the last year, these methods have been used in a great variety of applications, from medical expert systems to intelligent user interfaces.

In this talk, I give a general introduction to probabilistic graphical models and describe some of the most popular ones, such as Bayesian networks and Markov decision processes. Then I demonstrate their application in three complex problems in biomedicine: (1) helping a physician guide an endoscope in the colon, (2) modeling the evolutionary networks of HIV, and (3) adapting a stroke rehabilitation system for the patient.

Microsoft SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse - Architecture Overview
Microsoft SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse - Architecture Overview
00:56:15 · 24 May 2012

In this talk, I present an architectural overview of the SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse DBMS system. PDW is a massively parallel-processing, share-nothing, scaled-out version of SQL Server for DW workloads. The product is packaged as a database appliance built on industry-standard hardware.

Engineering Methods for Ensuring Program Correctness
Engineering Methods for Ensuring Program Correctness
00:52:41 · 24 May 2012

Common engineering practices today use testing to ensure the quality of software. But relying solely on testing has several well-known drawbacks, such as only testing the program for the given inputs and applying tests only after the entire program has been developed. An idealistic, long-standing dream has been to formally verify the correctness of program, for all inputs. Is there some reality in that dream?

In this talk, I present Dafny, a state-of-the-art tool for program verification. Dafny has been used to verify the full correctness of some challenging algorithms. It was used by two medalist teams in the VSTTE 2012 program verification competition and is being used in teaching. Through demos of this research prototype, I show the vision for how a program verifier can help during software development.

LACCIR Projects
LACCIR Projects
00:51:14 · 24 May 2012

LiveANDES: A Software Platform to Share and Analyze Information for Wildlife Conservation
LiveANDES (Advanced Network for Distribution of Endangered Species) provides a software platform where users can upload, visualize, and share wildlife data, helping to create a global conservation community in the Americas. Currently, LiveANDES covers all terrestrial vertebrates of Chile, displaying a database searchable by ecological, administrative, and protected areas. It empowers citizen scientists, enabling them to share data that helps map the presence and distribution of endangered species-information that is vital to assessing their conservation status.

In this talk, we cover the technological underpinnings of LiveANDES, including its web solution based on Microsoft .NET technologies and its mobile implementations for Windows Phone and Android devices. We also cover our plans to migrate the platform to the cloud by using Windows Azure, thereby creating a mobile, cloud-shared space for wildlife conservation, and our goal of adding Bolivian and North American libraries and regions for data-sharing and mapping.

Using Sensor Networks to Classify Frogs Based on Their Calls
Anurans (frogs and toads) are commonly used by biologists as bioindicators of the early stages of ecological stress. Unfortunately, most current monitoring methods are intrusive and error prone. By using sensor networks, we can automatically classify anuran calls and determine the species in a target site, thereby acquiring relevant and accurate data about the environment in a less intrusive way. Our research aims at using signal processing and machine-learning techniques to classify anuran calls as a tool to continuously monitor the environment, allowing us to find correlations between destabilizing events, such as fire, flooding, and deforestation, and the anuran population in a given observation site.

The World of Multi-Mouse; E-CLOUDSS: Building e-Government Clouds Using Distributed Semantic Services
The World of Multi-Mouse; E-CLOUDSS: Building e-Government Clouds Using Distributed Semantic Services
00:57:50 · 24 May 2012

The World of Multi-Mouse
Computers have proved a boon to education, but cash-strapped schools struggle to provide PCs. In this presentation, we address the question of how to get the same benefits of active participation and personal feedback that a computer provides at a cost of just a dollar per child per year. The answer is an 'Interpersonal Computer,' in our case, consisting of a PC, a projector, and a mouse for each child participating in the activity.

In this presentation, we show how we can teach math and language by using a personal and a collaborative approach, and analyze the value of games.

E-CLOUDSS: Building e-Government Clouds Using Distributed Semantic Services
Cloud computing is facilitating unlimited access to the computing and storage resources needed to build applications. The underlying infrastructure manages such resources transparently, without demanding the application manage or reserve more resources than those it really requires. Therefore, database management systems have exploded into cloud services that must be tuned and composed for efficiently and cost-effectively managing, querying, and exploiting huge data sets.

In this talk, we address a querying approach that consists of composing services that provide data and data management functions (aggregation, storage, refreshment). We discuss how query processing is tuned with respect to the cost of accessing data and services, the cost of using cloud resources for executing the query, and the mashing up of results according to quality dimensions of completeness, data provenance, and data freshness. We also examine how this approach has provided solutions for e-government applications that integrate services from different countries.

Future of Software Engineering on Mobile Devices
Future of Software Engineering on Mobile Devices
00:56:47 · 24 May 2012

The world is experiencing a technology shift. In 2012, touchscreen-based mobile devices, namely smartphones and tablets, will outsell desktops, laptops, and netbooks combined. Powerful, easy-to-use smartphones are likely to be the first and, especially in developing countries, possibly the only computing devices that virtually everyone will own and carry at all times. Is it possible to develop new software directly on these mobile devices, without using a PC? What would a user interface for such a new development model look like?

In this presentation, we present a new tool from Microsoft Research, TouchDevelop, that tries to address these questions. TouchDevelop is an application-creation environment that runs on the smartphone itself-no separate PC required. Its programming language and code editor have been built from scratch around the idea that all code is entered via a touchscreen, without a keyboard. We report on how TouchDevelop is being used today by thousands of people.

Why Software Engineering is the Best Job in 2012
Why Software Engineering is the Best Job in 2012
00:48:10 · 24 May 2012

In April, CareerCast.com placed software engineer at the top of its rankings of 200 jobs, noting that for software engineers the 'pay is great, hiring demand for their skills is through the roof, and working conditions have never been better.' But what do software engineers do in 2012? From developing new tools for verifying software, to assisting product groups in coping with bugs and big data, to securing applications on mobile phones, there is a huge variety in software engineering jobs.

In this talk, we provide an overview of the tasks that software engineers at Microsoft Research tackle, and how we are driving the future of this field.

Bringing Theories to Life: Computer Science at Microsoft Research
Bringing Theories to Life: Computer Science at Microsoft Research
00:41:51 · 23 May 2012

The future of computer science lies neither in stability or change, but in the interplay between them. Both in terms of theory and in the software that brings the theories to life, there is a need for stability, so that ideas and techniques can become well known and part of the scientific ecosystem. But at the same time, researchers are always striving to push the boundaries and bring about change that reflects the concerns of our time, such as handling big data, ensuring privacy and security, and facilitating mobile computing, as well as unifying previously neglected groups through computer vision, natural user interfaces, and machine translation.

In this talk, we explore the advances made by Microsoft Research in the development of new theories, new tools, and new communities in computer science.

Information Management via CrowdSourcing
Information Management via CrowdSourcing
00:38:43 · 23 May 2012

CrowdSourcing uses human intelligence to solve tasks that are simple for humans but difficult for computers. CrowdSourcing can also use humans as sources of valuable information, for example, to exploit the 'wisdom of the crowd.'

This presentation provides an overview of the CrowdSourcing work we are doing in the Stanford InfoLab. It describes DeCo, a database system that seamlessly gives access to traditional data as well as to crowd information. You will also learn about some crowd algorithms, where a computer orchestrates human tasks that solve a larger problem.

Strengthening Mexico's Participation in Global Research Networks
Strengthening Mexico's Participation in Global Research Networks
00:30:52 · 23 May 2012

The Mexican research community has historically collaborated well with colleagues from different countries, but as research systems have become more internationalized over the past decades, we must redouble our efforts to integrate effectively into the expanding global networks of knowledge. In this context, governments should support the strengthening of national systems along the chain of education-science-technology-innovation, and should facilitate their internationalization through the mobility of students and researchers, the undertaking of joint projects, and the funding of technology based companies.

This presentation describes our efforts at CONACYT, where we are working to support the involvement of Mexican researchers with high-level groups internationally by incorporating programs that provide remote access to instruments, data, computational resources, and large-scale facilities located throughout the world, among other activities.


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