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Adventures in Collaboration

July 16, 2012 | By Microsoft blog editor

Science@Microsoft: The Fourth Paradigm in Practice
The Microsoft Faculty Summit celebrates the ongoing collaboration of Microsoft Research and the academic community, providing a forum for leading faculty members and Microsoft personnel to collectively discuss the future of computing and its applications in solving real-world problems. This productive partnership extends all the way back to the founding of Microsoft Research, so at this year’s summit, we are pleased to release Science@Microsoft, an e-book that commemorates our many years of fruitful teamwork

Now, not to complain, but imagine the task that fell to me and my fellow editors—David Heckerman, Stephen Emmott, and especially Yan Xu and Kenji Takeda—reviewing years and years of research to select a handful of stories that encapsulate the irrepressible innovation, the remarkable collegiality, and the ground-breaking impact that have characterized the collaboration between Microsoft Research and leading academic researchers. It was almost as daunting as the original research. Well, not really, but it was challenging. Which stories would make the cut? What were the selection criteria? As David Heckerman observed, “Our challenge was to select a small number of stories that each represented a unique aspect of the new paradigm—the eigenstories, if you will.”

In the end, we focused on the last 10 years, choosing stories that demonstrate the breadth of our collaborative research and the potential of computer science to address some of the world’s most vexing problems. We believe these stories demonstrate the amazing power of technology to impact areas far afield from traditional computer science.

Within these pages, you will read about investigations into the genetic basis of human disease, the study of the heavens, and the design of three-dimensional objects. You’ll find accounts of basic research with practical outcomes: from protecting endangered wildlife to safeguarding consumers. You’ll see how Microsoft Researchers, working in concert with academic and government investigators, have tackled some of the most pressing issues of the twenty-first century, from climate change to the AIDS epidemic to world hunger. You’ll also discover equally valuable, if less headline-worthy, contributions to the publication of chemical information and the reuse of data from clinical studies. Still, choosing was difficult. In the words of Stephen Emmott, “It was virtually impossible to select, given the first-rate science characterizing all of the projects.” Above all, this collection demonstrates Microsoft Research’s commitment to applying computer science to basic research and our rich history of working with external researchers. These stories commemorate a great record of using computing technologies in the service of humankind.

Science@Microsoft is published under a Creative Commons license, and is available as a PDF at It is also offered as an e-book through the Amazon and Barnes & Noble online stores. So fire up your laptops or e-readers!

Tony Hey, Vice President, Microsoft Research Connections

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