Microsoft Research Blog

The Microsoft Research blog provides in-depth views and perspectives from our researchers, scientists and engineers, plus information about noteworthy events and conferences, scholarships, and fellowships designed for academic and scientific communities.

Researchers work to secure Azure Blockchain smart contracts with formal verification

In its young existence, the tamperproof and distributed ledger technology blockchain has already generated a lot of buzz and is being seen as disruptive, influencing approaches in such diverse areas as financial services, supply chains, and governance. To say its future is bright might be an understatement. According to Gartner, the technology is positioned to bring an added business value upward of $360 billion by 2026. One of the key drivers making blockchain-based applications programmable,…

June 2019

Microsoft Research Blog

EverCrypt cryptographic provider offers developers greater security assurances

Project Everest is a multiyear collaborative effort focused on building a verified, secure communications stack designed to improve the security of HTTPS, a key internet safeguard. This post, about the high-performance industrial-grade EverCrypt cryptographic provider, is the second in a series exploring the groundbreaking work, which is available on GitHub now. If you’re reading this blog post right now, you’re likely using HTTPS, the most popular application of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. In…

April 2019

Microsoft Research Blog

Simon Peyton Jones writing with a fellow researcher at a desk

Influencing mainstream software—Applying programming language research ideas to transform spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are the world’s most widely used programming language, by several orders of magnitude. We asked ourselves whether it would be possible to apply programming language research ideas to make spreadsheets a better programming language? If we could, that would empower a huge user community to do more. One of the joys of working at Microsoft Research is the ability to directly influence mainstream software technologies – in this case, Microsoft Excel. And the Excel…

January 2019

Microsoft Research Blog

SPACER and Z3: Accessible, reliable model checking as theorem proving

SPACER and Z3: Accessible, reliable model checking as theorem proving

“How can one check a routine in the sense of making sure that it is right?” asked Alan Turing in 1949, foreshadowing the science of program proving decades before it became a formally accepted field of computer science. Program proving, model checking, theorem solving – this is the terminology occupying the research space of computer science devoted to making sure programs work correctly. In the years since Turing theorized its necessity, the calculus of computation…

October 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Summer of MakeCode for kids

Microsoft MakeCode is a web-based learning environment for kids and teens to create with technology. MakeCode takes a unique approach to computing education by combining the magic of making with the power of code as a way to make learning about computers and technology more accessible and interesting to a wider audience. We have created easy MakeCode projects that you can do with your kids at home over the summer using a different MakeCode product…

July 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Optimizing Barnes-Hut t-SNE

Ten years ago, while writing a physics engine, I learned about the Barnes-Hut algorithm for the gravitational n-body problem. Normally, computing the Newtonian gravitational forces between n bodies requires evaluations of Newton’s law of universal gravitation, as every body exerts a force on every other body in the system. Barnes-Hut is an approximation that brings that complexity down to , by treating clusters of faraway objects as single particles. An octree is used to subdivide…

May 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Learning from Source Code

Over the last five years, deep learning-based methods have revolutionised a wide range of applications, for example those requiring understanding of pictures, speech and natural language. For computer scientists, a naturally arising question is whether computers learn to understand source code? It appears to be a trivial question at first glance because programming languages indeed are designed to be understood by computers. However, many software bugs are in fact instances of Do what I mean,…

May 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Neural-Guided Deductive Search: A best of both worlds approach to program synthesis

Program synthesis — automatically generating a program that satisfies a given specification — is a major challenge in AI. In addition to changing the way we design software, it has the potential to revolutionize task automation. End users without programming skills can easily provide input-output examples of the desired program behavior. The Flash Fill feature in Microsoft Excel, a particularly successful application of this technology, demonstrates that a single example is often sufficient to generate…

April 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Four Big Bets For Better AI Research: A Personal Journey

It’s a big shift to change from being motivated by getting published in prestigious conferences and journals, to being motivated by solving real problems for real people. Halfway through my 18-year research career working on program synthesis–the task of automatically constructing a program that satisfies a given high-level specification–I had a series of epiphanies that profoundly changed the way I approach research. Yes, I had a good and rising publication list, h-index, and awards. Yes,…

March 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Give your dissertation a boost with a grant from Microsoft Research

Need funding to clear a hurdle in the final stages of your dissertation research? Microsoft Research is offering grants of up to US $25,000 to help a select group of doctoral students cross the finish line and enter the workforce. The Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant is for PhD students at U.S. and Canadian universities from underrepresented groups in computing, including women, African-Americans/Blacks, Latinos, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders and/or people with disabilities. The program…

February 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

The women who inspire women to pursue careers in STEM

Halfway through college, I had an identity crisis. Spring was in the air in Hanover, New Hampshire, and my classmates were gearing up for Dartmouth’s famed Sophomore Summer term. Most of them would spend much of this term tubing down the Connecticut River, or hiking, or cycling to Dartmouth’s organic farm. But not me. Something was missing from my intellectual life. I was an English major and loved what I was learning, but felt I…

February 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Neural Program Synthesis and the Quest to Democratize Programming with Dr. Rishabh Singh

Episode 10, January 31, 2018 – We can program computers to do almost anything. But what about programming computers to… program computers? That’s a task that Dr. Rishabh Singh, and the team in the Cognition group at Microsoft Research, are tackling with Neural Program Synthesis, also known as artificial programming.

January 2018

Microsoft Research Blog