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Microsoft Research New England Opening Agenda

Microsoft Research New England Opening Symposium Agenda

On Sept. 22, 2008, Microsoft Research New England conducted an inaugural symposium in Cambridge, Mass., hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to open an extensive collaboration with leading research institutions in the region. The symposium included introductions to Microsoft Research and its New England lab, discussed the possibilities inherent in interdisciplinary research projects, and examined some of the ways that computing will enhance the sciences of tomorrow.

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  • 9:00 AM Registration Opens, Continental Breakfast
    Kirsch Auditorium
  • 10:10 AM Introducing Massachusetts Institute of Technology Provost
    Victor Zue, Director of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 10:15 AM Welcoming Remarks from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (video)
    Rafael Reif, Provost, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 10:30 AM Microsoft Research Overview (video)
    Rick Rashid, Senior Vice President, Microsoft Research

    Rick Rashid will give an overview of Microsoft Research, including its vision and goals and the impact that research has had on the state of the art and to computing. He will also discuss the role of basic research in industry and the strong partnerships between industry and academic research.
  • 11:00 AM Microsoft Research New England Overview (video)
    Jennifer Chayes, Managing Director, Microsoft Research New England

    Jennifer Chayes will give an overview of the visions and goals of Microsoft Research New England, highlighting in particular interdisciplinary research and collaboration with the academic community.
  • 11:15 AM Interdisciplinary Research Panel Discussion (video)
    David Campbell, Provost, Boston University
    Jennifer Chayes, Managing Director, Microsoft Research New England
    Steve Hyman, Provost, Harvard University
    Subra Suresh, Dean of Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Jeannette Wing, Assistant Director Computer and Information Science and Engineering, National Science Foundation

    Research is becoming less and less constrained by traditional barriers, such as those between different departments or research specializations, between pure and applied research, or between academic and industrial research. This panel will discuss some exciting areas in which several disciplines are joining forces, as well as what the obstacles are to cross-disciplinary work and how universities and research labs can encourage it.
  • 12:15 PM Lunch
  • 1:45 PM (Theoretical) Computer Science Is Everywhere (video)
    Erik Demaine, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Theoretical computer science, and the algorithmic way of thinking, transcends our traditional boundaries. I believe that algorithms are relevant to every discipline of study, and will give eclectic examples from the arts and sciences to business and society. The examples span the spectrum from serious topics like protein folding and decoding Inka khipu to fun topics like juggling and magic.
  • 2:30 PM Market Design in Theory and Practice: Auctions for Sponsored Links in Online Search (video)
    Susan Athey, Professor of Economics, Harvard University

    The revenue generated by advertising provides incentives for online publishers to create high-quality content.The problem of allocating advertisements to online page views is extraordinarily complex.On search engines, millions of unique phrases are entered by users each month, and hundreds of thousands of advertisers would like to place advertisements there. As with the Yellow Pages, advertisements are an important source of information for consumers.Over the past ten years, the market for search advertising evolved into a real-time auction that shares some features with an “ideal” auction that theory predicts would be effective.The design of the auction affects the quality of matching of advertisements to consumers, the search costs expended by consumers, the profit to the advertisers, and the extraction of revenue by the search engine. Over time, search engines have become increasingly sophisticated in pricing, and the design has become increasingly complex, with real-world experiences confirming existing theory and motivating new theory.A vibrant cross-disciplinary subfield surrounding the design of these auctions has emerged, combining theory, empirical analysis, field experiments, and the design of algorithms.
  • 3:15 PM Break
  • 3:45 PM Understanding Socio-Technical Phenomena in a Web2.0 Era (video)
    danah boyd, Fellow, Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society

    Web2.0 signals an iteration in Internet culture, shaped by changes in technology, entrepreneurism, and social practices. Beneath the buzzwords that flutter around Web2.0, people are experiencing a radical reworking of social media. Networked public spaces that once catered to communities of interest are now being leveraged by people of all ages to connect with people they already know. Social network sites like MySpace and Facebook enable people to map out their social networks in order to create public spaces for interaction. People can use social media to vocalize their thoughts, although having a blog or video feed doesn't guarantee having an audience. Tagging platforms allow people to find, organize and share content in entirely new ways. Mass collaborative projects like Wikipedia allow people to collectively create valuable cultural artifacts. These are but a few examples of Web2.0.

    Getting to the core of technologically-mediated phenomena requires understanding the interplay between everyday practices, social structures, culture, and technology. In this talk, I will map out some of what's currently taking place, offer a framework for understanding these phenomena, and discuss strategies for researching emergent practices.
  • 4:30 PM Designing Experience/The Experience of Design (video)
    Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

    I have a personal mantra:

    Ultimately, we are deluding ourselves if we think that the products that we design are the "things" that we sell, rather than the individual, social and cultural experience that they engender, and the value and impact that they have. Design that ignores this is not worthy of the name.

    If I am right and that the real outcome of the exercise is the experience, then does it not make sense that the quality of that experience be front and centre in the conceptualization, design, and implementation of any product or service? Yet, the vast majority of technology-based products and services stand as testament that this is currently not the case. Unless we consciously take steps to change this situation, we risk losing the potential benefits that such products and services were intended to deliver. Furthermore, as we go further and further down the path of ubiquitous computing, the consequences of not doing so will become ever more serious.

    Consequently, the intent of this talk is to address the nature of design, and how design thinking and practice can be integrated into our processes, and help address this situation. From the perspective of integration, we describe a process which is based on three interdependent and equally important pillars that must drive everything from day one: design, technology and business. The argument made is that if there is not a comparable investment, competence, and degree of innovation in each, from the start, then the endeavour will be seriously jeopardized.

    In discussing this, we then drill down a bit deeper into what we mean by design. The argument made here is that, despite frequent claims to the contrary, everyone is not a designer; rather, design is a distinct profession, with a distinct practice, which is just as specialized and essential as engineering, for example.

    The historian Melvin Kranzberg stated that technology is not good, it is not bad, but nor is it neutral. The whole point of this talk is to help us land more firmly and consistently on the positive side of the equation through an appropriate focus on users and experience through an improved appreciation of the role of design.
  • 5:15 PM The Changing Role of Research Universities and Industrial and National Laboratories in the 21st Century (video)
    Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University

    The intimate relationship between basic research and application has been highlighted ever since the invention of the transistor in 1947, the laser in 1958 and the subsequent spawning of the computer and communications revolution which has so changed our lives. Such advances and discoveries were made in major industrial research laboratories—Bell Labs, IBM, RCA and others. Today many of these industrial laboratories are in decline due to changes in the regulatory environment and global economic competition.

    In this talk I will examine some of the frontiers in technology and emerging societal and policy issues. My talk will be colored by my own experiences at Bell Labs and subsequently at a major U.S. national laboratory (Sandia) and at universities (University of California at Santa Barbara and Harvard).

    To position ourselves for the future, we must find new ways of breaking disciplinary boundaries in academia. The focus provided by applications and the role of interdisciplinary research centers will be examined. For example, in my own fields the reductionist approach inherent in nanoscience must be connected with the world of complex systems.

    Integrative approaches to science and technology will become more the norm if we are to address societal challenges in areas from electronic commerce to energy to environment to human health. Translating research discoveries into practice is a key challenge for industrial R & D laboratories and research universities. The need to develop new models for university-industry collaboration and to develop the appropriate intellectual capital will be discussed.
  • 5:45 PM Closing Remarks
    Christian Borgs, Deputy Managing Director, Microsoft Research New England
    Victor Zue, Director of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 6:00 PM - 8:00PM Microsoft Research Reception
    Microsoft Research New England, One Memorial Drive, 14th floor