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Microsoft Research New England: 2012 in Review

December 27, 2012 | By Microsoft blog editor

Posted by Jennifer Chayes, managing director of Microsoft Research New England

Microsoft Research 2012 in Review logo 

It’s been another year of great research, growth, and connection at Microsoft Research New England. We’ve had more than 350 academic visitors this year, many of whom have engaged deeply with other Microsoft Research researchers and with our product groups.

The Social Media Collective (SMC) had an amazing year. We added three prominent researchers—Nancy Baym, Kate Crawford, and Mary Gray—to the SMC. Together with danah boyd, there is no doubt that we now have the leading social-media-research group worldwide. Our SMC researchers and visitors have done groundbreaking research on questions concerning youth and marginalized populations online, as well as in the study of social interactions around online music and games.

We continued to have great results from our Empirical Economics program. Susan Athey and Markus Mobius, now joined by Justin Rao of Microsoft Research New York City, drive an ongoing engagement with more than a dozen external economists on empirical questions concerning online advertising, business models for our online properties and the cloud, and health-care economics.

Jennifer ChayesWe now have a thriving machine-learning effort, led by Sham Kakade and Adam Kalai, who have engaged with visitors and the local community. More than 300 researchers from local universities and the local tech community attended our New England Machine Learning Day. In addition, our machine-learning researchers are working closely with the Cloud Numerics group at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center, building a data-analysis layer for Windows Azure, and with Raghu Ramakrishnan’s efforts on the cloud in Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business.

Moshe Tennenholtz’s efforts in the Herzliya branch of Microsoft Research New England have been phenomenal. It has been the first year of the Microsoft-Technion e-Commerce Research Center, and there already are 10 ongoing projects among Microsoft Research researchers, Microsoft product groups, and Technion faculty and students. Moshe and collaborators also delivered a new type of floor pricing to Microsoft’s Online Services Division.

Our lab has received many honors this year: Two of our postdocs, Aleksander Madry and David Steurer, won ACM Doctoral Dissertation Honorable Mention, and another, Ivan Corwin, won the 2012 Clay Research Fellowship. Tennenholtz won the ACM Autonomous Agents Research Award. Boyd was named by The Boston Globe as one of Boston’s Most Powerful Women in Technology for 2012, and by Foreign Policy as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers for 2012. Yours truly was named one of the Boston Business Journal’s 2012 Women to Watch, won the Anita Borg Institute 2012 Women of Vision Award, and was named an inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.

Perhaps most excitingly, Microsoft Research New England researchers have welcomed their new colleagues at Microsoft Research New York City and have begun to work with them on problems at the boundary of computer science and the social sciences. I have high hopes for these interactions, as our amazing researchers bring their different approaches—theoretical, empirical, and computational—to these incredibly important problems.