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Partnerships propel computer science

April 9, 2014 | By Microsoft blog editor

As part of its commitment to basic research, Microsoft invests in creating joint research centers around the world. These collaborative engagements typically involve multi-year research programs across a broad range of projects that push the boundaries of computer science. In the last week, Microsoft Research both launched and renewed major partnerships in Spain, Russia, and France.

Joint Research Centers forged in Spain, Russia, and France

On April 2, we announced the launch of the Madrid Joint Research Center, a collaborative venture between Microsoft Research and the IMDEA Software Institute. The center’s inaugural workshop brought together researchers from both partners and focused on advances in verification, programming languages, and security.

On April 7, it was with great pleasure that I participated in the kick-off workshop for the newly launched Microsoft Research and Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) Joint Research Center. This partnership will run three years and cover research in such areas as big data processing/visualization and computer vision, and will offer major research events for students.

Kick-off workshop for the newly launched Microsoft Research and Lomonosov MSU Joint Research Center

Kick-off workshop for the newly launched Microsoft Research and Lomonosov MSU Joint Research Center

The roots of this collaboration go back almost 20 years, when an agreement was signed between Microsoft and MSU’s Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics. Since then, more than 10,000 undergrads, graduate students, and young researchers from Russia have participated in joint projects and events organized by Microsoft Research and MSU. We’re delighted to deepen our partnership with an academic institution that recognizes the importance of IT in science—in particular in two important research areas: computer vision and big data visualization. In terms of computer vision, we are now able to extract deeper information and understanding from images and video recordings, such that video sequences, CCTV camera footage, and 3D images can be used to produce contextual information and data. In the field of big data visualization, Microsoft and MSU have collaborated on projects such as ChronoZoom, FetchClimate, and Distribution Modeller, which accumulate and analyze tremendous amounts of information from various areas of knowledge.

As Tony Hey, vice president of Microsoft Research said, “By building an ecosystem of scientific research in the IT area in Russia, we are involving young and talented scientists from Russia to join their efforts with the experience of leading Microsoft Research scientists. We are very happy to collaborate with MSU’s young scientists.”

Tony Hey, vice president of Microsoft Research Outreach, and Victor Sadovnichii, rector of Moscow State University

Tony Hey, vice president of Microsoft Research, and Victor Sadovnichy, rector of Moscow State University

Finally, we had our third announcement today. Andrew Blake, laboratory director of Microsoft Research Cambridge, attended the public announcement of the renewal of the Microsoft Research–Inria Joint Centre. Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche, senior research program manager from Microsoft Research Cambridge and management board member of the Joint Centre, provides more information about the importance of this renewal below.

As you can see, it has been a big week for Microsoft Research and our commitment to collaborate with some of the world’s leading research institutes.

—Daron Green, Senior Director, Microsoft Research


Laurent Massoulié, managing director of the Inria Joint CentreAs Daron’s part of this post makes clear, Microsoft Research has a rich, ongoing history of collaborating with leading academic and institutional partners as we strive to use computer science to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. We have had a particularly productive partnership with Inria (the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation).

In 2006, Microsoft Research and Inria took their already close relationship a step further, by founding a joint research laboratory just south of Paris. In the intervening years, the Microsoft Research-Inria Joint Centre has been a constant source of investigative excellence, renowned for applying computer science and mathematics to a broad spectrum of scientific challenges, from formal methods for mathematics, distributed systems and security, to computer vision and medical imaging, to machine learning and big data, and to social networks and privacy. The results of the Centre’s research are public and thus freely available to the international scientific community.

Now we are pleased to announce the renewal of this fruitful partnership, which will keep the Microsoft Research-Inria Joint Centre funded through 2017. From his quote below, it’s clear that Andrew Blake sees exceptional value in continuing the partnership:

In renewing the Joint Research Centre, we will continue to strengthen the international standing of European computer science and make significant breakthroughs that impact Microsoft, the field of computer science and society. Microsoft’s collaboration with Inria in generating a formal proof of the Feit-Thompson theorem is a great example of exceptional scientific innovation that also strengthens technology more broadly.

Laurent Massoulié, with his extensive experience both of academia and industry, is an ideal Director for the partnership. He has already extended our collaboration with a number of new and important challenges, including machine learning and social networking, achieving a balance in the Centre between deep science and engineering, and high social impact.

In this era of big data and even bigger problems, such collaboration, which brings together outstanding researchers from the academic and commercial worlds, can play a pivotal role in the application of computer science and mathematics to the sciences. We are proud of our continued association with Inria and look forward to four more years of world-class teamwork.

Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche, Senior Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research-EMEA

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