Deputy Managing Director
Microsoft Research New England
Christian Borgs is deputy managing director and co-founder of Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Mass., which opened in July 2008. He is also an affiliate professor of mathematics at the University of Washington. Before becoming deputy managing director of the New England lab, he was a principal researcher and co-manager of the Theory Group at Microsoft Research. Borgs’ research areas include properties of self-engineered networks, phase transitions in theoretical computer science, and algorithmic game theory.
Borgs received his doctorate in physics from the University of Munich, and held a post-doctoral position at ETH Zurich and an assistant professorship at the Free University of Berlin, from which he received his habilitation in mathematical physics in 1993. After his habilitation, he was appointed to the chair of Statistical Physics at the University of Leipzig, and in 1997 he joined Microsoft Research to co-found the Theory Group.
Borgs is well known for his work on the mathematical theory of first-order phase transitions and finite-size effects, for which he won the 1993 Karl-Scheel Prize of the German Physical Society. Since joining Microsoft Corp., Borgs has become one of the world leaders in the study of phase transitions in combinatorial optimization, and, more generally, the use of methods from statistical physics and probability theory in problems of interest to computer science and technology. Among his achievements, Borgs is one of the top researchers in the modeling and analysis of self-organized networks, such as the Internet, the Web and social networks.
Borgs has worked on a number of applied problems at Microsoft, including questions related to auctions and the company’s paid search model, the spread of worms, and questions concerning link spam and the structure of the domain graph for the Web. Recently, his interest has widened to include economic issues around health care as well as cloud computing.
Borgs is the co-author of more than 100 research papers and is the co-inventor of roughly 30 patents. Among the honors he has received are the Karl-Scheel Prize, mentioned above, and the Heisenberg Fellowship of the German Research Council. He has also presented the prestigious Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences lecture series titled “Statistical Physics Expansion Methods in Combinatorics and Computer Sciences.” He has been a long-term visitor at Princeton University, Harvard University and UCLA and has twice been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Among the boards and councils on which he has served are the Council of the University of Leipzig, the editorial boards of the Journal of Statistical Physics, the SIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics and the Journal of Statistical Mechanics, and the board of trustees of the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics.
Borgs is married to Jennifer Tour Chayes, who is also at Microsoft Research and with whom he collaborates on most of his scientific work. In his rare spare time he enjoys art, theater and classical music, as well as skiing and swimming.