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May 2008

A cabled sensor network on the Juan de Fuca Plate

Unlocking the Ocean's Best-Kept Secrets: Trident and the NEPTUNE Project

Computational knowledge extraction is one of the greatest challenges of e-science today. Virtual mountains of data are mined in every scientific discipline, and that data needs to be effectively captured, stored, managed, translated into usable information, and shared.

Trident is a scientific workflow workbench that is designed to allow scientists to spend their time on science rather than on building the tools to support their science.

Microsoft Scientists Unveil New Technology to Give Early Warning of Sensitive Species' Response to Changing Environments

Sensitive Species

Studying animals and their sensitivities and responses to environmental change is critical to the world’s conservation strategies. Microsoft Research Cambridge (UK) has developed innovative technology to study animals and their sensitivities and responses to climate change, pollution and human activity. Microsoft scientists, working in collaboration with scientists at the University of Oxford and the Freie Universitat in Berlin, are deploying the new technology to better understand the behavior of an important British seabird, the Manx Shearwater.

The project team is also considering how the technology can be used to study different sensitive ecosystems around the world, such as rainforests and cloud forests, to provide scientists with a clearer picture and as well as a potential early-warning system of how vulnerable species are responding to changes in environment.

Microsoft Science Computing Initiative All-Hands Meeting

Annual All-Hands Meeting

As part of its External Research program, the Microsoft Science Computing Initiative (TCI) held its annual All-Hands Meeting on the Microsoft Redmond, Washington campus on March 6 and March 7. The meeting brought together approximately 100 luminaries from leading universities and research centers to share their unique research insights and findings.

The topics presented at the meeting ranged very broadly across issues associated with multi/many core computing, the generation and visualization of large datasets, innovative application of numerical algorithms, and machine learning.

In each case, a major component that facilitated a breakthrough in insight and learning was the application of Microsoft products and research tools to key areas of science. The ensuing discussions explored the application and importance of industry-standard software that is used with open-source middleware to aid in scientific collaboration, workflow, visualization, high-performance computing, data acquisition, and analysis. The attendees successfully demonstrated the relevance and essential contribution that Microsoft technologies could make in fields as diverse as protein folding, aeronautical engineering, oceanography, astronomy, epidemiology, ecology, and climatology.


April 2008

Scientists Collaborate Worldwide to Gather Critical Data on Climate Change

Fluxnet image Managing our terrestrial resources effectively in the face of climate change is a challenge that is reaching critical mass and needs to be fully explored. In 2003, plants across North America absorbed approximately 30 percent of our fossil fuel emissions from the atmosphere. Younger forests that were cut decades ago are responsible for about half of that. As these forests age, their ability to absorb CO2 is expected to decline. How much decline and how fast that decline might be is unclear since the forests interact with the changing climate.

Carbon-climate scientists focus on these kinds of interactions between climate and the terrestrial biosphere. Over the past year, scientists at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany, University of Tuscia in Italy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and University of California at Berkeley have teamed with computer scientists at the Berkeley Water Center, University of Virginia, and Microsoft Research to produce a worldwide carbon-climate field dataset. This dataset is now being used by more than 200 researchers to produce synthesis results across the field sites as well as integrate with climate models.

The BioMed Central Research Awards (biomedcentral.com)

BioMed Central: The Open Access Publisher

The 2007 BioMed Central Research Awards will be held in London on March 19, 2008, and is sponsored by Microsoft Research. These awards recognize excellence in research that has been made universally accessible by open access publication in one of BioMed Central's journals. Any physician or scientist who published original research of major significance in 2007 in one of the more than 170 BioMed Central journals will be eligible to be considered for the awards. Two awards of US$5000 will be made—one for biological research, and one for medical research.

SwissEx Collaboration – Environmental E-Science at EPFL

SwissEx The Swiss Experiment (or SwissEx) platform project will bring field measurements together with cyberinfrastructure for an unprecedented field investigation of environmental processes. The challenge is threefold:

  • Science: the collection of data for a global system, for a wide range of space and time scales and their interpretation

  • Technology: the deployment of a large number of sensors with differing data rates, resolutions, embedded intelligence, cost, data acquisition, streaming, storage, security, authorization, and so forth

  • Knowledge management: the preservation of the knowledge of the circumstances, methods, locations, and times of data acquisition and post-processing

Microsoft Research and the Swiss Experiment project (SwissEx) are collaborating to determine how recent developments in the Microsoft Research SensorMap project can enhance the capabilities of the SwissEx infrastructure. The SwissEx project uses an experimental approach to large-scale, collaboration of environmental scientists. The primary goal of the collaboration between Microsoft Research and SwissEx is to evaluate the appropriateness of the Microsoft Research tools in this type of major e-science context.

Furthermore, this collaboration will explore selected innovative technical challenges that emerge using sensor middleware in the context of e-science, specifically in environmental research and engineering, in order to enhance the currently employed methods. The project will be driven by requirements and feedback from environmental scientists.


January 2008

Professional Scholarly Publishing (PSP 2008) Annual Conference (pspcentral.org)
February 6–8, 2008 Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Microsoft Rainier Cluster with Windows HPC Server 2008 Proves 30% More Efficient than Previous Benchmark Result
In today's competitive scientific community, insight and discovery depend on the ability to analyze increasingly complex data quickly. As data sets expand, scientists require their high-performance computing (HPC) capacity to be provisioned more productively, necessitating a move off their workstations onto scalable clusters or more efficient deployment and management of cluster environments. The Microsoft HPC platform can provide scalable cluster solutions that are designed to help users do more science and less IT, by utilizing existing skill sets for managing an HPC system. Recent benchmark results based on the Microsoft Rainier cluster provide perspective on the performance and productivity capabilities of the Microsoft HPC solution.

Determining Fundamental Principles of RNA Structure with Comparative Sequence Analysis
University of Texas at Austin's Robin Gutell gave a talk about RNA structure and his work on building a comparative sequence analysis process when he visited Microsoft Research's International Headquarters in Redmond, Washington, in December. In that talk, Gutell discussed RNA folding and how a new analysis system based on Microsoft SQL Server was enabling new discoveries in his lab.

The American Geophysical Union conferenceMicrosoft Helps Climate Scientists Create Database with 800 Million Data Points (infoworld.com)
The American Geophysical Union conference, held in December 2007, gave scientific researchers and the Microsoft Research eScience group an opportunity to discuss the support of scientific processes worldwide.

Office System Developer Conference 2008
February 10–13, 2008 in San Jose, CA (San Jose McEnery Convention Center)
The Microsoft Office System Developer Conference (ODC) 2008 is the premier event for Microsoft Office and SharePoint developers, bringing together architects, developers, and industry technical experts.

Computational Challenges of Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) Request for Proposals 2007
The long-awaited RFP for Genome Wide Association Studies has gone live on the Microsoft Research Funding Opportunities Web site. This is your opportunity to share the news with interested parties.

Microsoft Releases AIDS Research Software Tools
The Microsoft Technical Computing mission to reduce time to scientific insights is exemplified by the June 13, 2007, release of a set of four free software tools designed to advance AIDS vaccine research. The code for the tools is available now via CodePlex, to foster collaborative software development projects and host shared source code. Microsoft researchers hope that the tools will help the worldwide scientific community make new strides toward an AIDS vaccine. Computing technology holds great potential for accelerating scientific research. Microsoft is committed to improving the efficiency of scientific computing technologies and reducing the time to discovery. Microsoft advanced computing technologies and productivity toolsets help advance data mining and knowledge management, and enhance scholarly publishing and communication. In the past, we have witnessed the remarkable impact of IT on research discoveries in ways that no one could have imagined before. We continue working to enhance our technical capabilities to help scientists realize their full potential.

Microsoft Joins Tokyo Tech Research Alliance Collaboration to Advance Japan's Science and Engineering Research (titech.ac.jp)
Microsoft Corporation will become the first non-Japanese company to join the Tokyo Tech Research Alliance.

Using Spam Blockers to Target HIV, Too (businessweek.com)
David Heckerman's innovative reimagining and development of technological tools to detect HIV in human cells is having a profound impact on the global fight against HIV. Heckerman saw beyond the reach of his spam-blocking tool, and applied it conceptually to the staggering amount of available HIV data. As a result, using clusters of hundreds of computers, he and his team are able to process data 480 times faster than a year ago.

A Revolutionary Idea: Executable Biology
Find out about Executable Biology, a radical new technique for modeling biological systems that could transform our understanding of complex living systems.


October 2007

New Solutions for Data Management in Parallel Computing (PDF file, 76 KB)
As part of the Microsoft Science Computing mission to support scientific research with enhanced information technologies, Microsoft is investigating the potential of parallel computing to improve data management in emerging multicore and manycore computing environments. Mateo Valero and his computer architecture team at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) are collaborating with Microsoft Research Cambridge in addressing these challenges.

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