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.

  1. 2019 Dissertation Grant recipients embarking on diverse paths to scientific and societal impact

    I’m pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Microsoft Research Dissertation Grants. Each dissertation grant provides up to $25,000 in funding to doctoral students at North American universities who are underrepresented in the field of computing. This is the third year Microsoft Research has offered these research grants, and it was the most competitive one yet. Microsoft Research scientists with an expertise in the students’ topic areas reviewed the more than 200 proposals submitted…

    June 11th, 2019

  2. Exploring job search trends in Canada with search query data: A collaboration with Bank of Canada

    Microsoft Research has teamed up with economists at Bank of Canada to launch an interactive tool for exploring online job search trends in the country. The tool, based on a classification process derived from previous research on how job searches align with socio-demographic data in the United States, allows users to examine which Canadian census divisions are searching for what types of jobs via an interactive map. The tool is available on the Microsoft Research…

    June 7th, 2019

  3. Reliability in Reinforcement Learning

    Reinforcement Learning (RL), much like scaling a 3,000-foot rock face, is about learning to make sequential decisions. The list of potential RL applications is expansive, spanning robotics (drone control), dialogue systems (personal assistants, automated call centers), the game industry (non-player characters, computer AI), treatment design (pharmaceutical tests, crop management), complex systems control (for resource allocation, flow optimization), and so on. Some RL achievements are quite compelling. For example, Stanford University’s RL team learned how to…

    June 6th, 2019

  4. A phonetic matching made inˈhɛvən

    Recently, Microsoft Research Montréal open sourced a phonetic matching component used previously in Maluuba Inc.'s natural language understanding platform. The library contains string comparison utilities that operate on a phoneme level as opposed to a character level. This allows upstream systems to utilize personalized and contextual information that the Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems may not have access to, in order to correct the ASR. This post will shed light on what phonetic matching is…

    June 6th, 2019

  5. Making the most of micro-moments with Dr. Shamsi Iqbal

    Episode 79, June 5, 2019- If you’ve recently found it more difficult to focus your attention for a lengthy stretch of time in order to get a complex task done… or worse, found it difficult even to find a lengthy stretch of time in which to try, you’re not alone. And actually, you’re in luck. Dr. Shamsi Iqbal, a senior researcher in the Information and Data Sciences group at Microsoft Research, wants to help you…

    June 5th, 2019

  6. Provably efficient reinforcement learning with rich observations

    Reinforcement learning, a machine learning paradigm for sequential decision making, has stormed into the limelight, receiving tremendous attention from both researchers and practitioners. When combined with deep learning, reinforcement learning (RL) has produced impressive empirical results, but the successes to date are limited to simulation scenarios in which data is cheap, primarily because modern "deep RL" algorithms are extremely data hungry. In “Provably Efficient RL with Rich Observations via Latent State Decoding”, Microsoft Research PhD…

    June 3rd, 2019

  7. 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 3rd, 2019

  8. What’s in a name? Using Bias to Fight Bias in Occupational Classification

    Bias in AI is a big problem. In particular, AI can compound the effects of existing societal biases: in a recruiting tool, if more men than women are software engineers, AI is likely to use that data to identify job applicants and overscreen for men, creating a vicious circle of bias. Indeed, Amazon recently scrapped its AI recruiting engine project for that reason. Now that AI is increasingly used in high-impact applications, such as criminal…

    May 31st, 2019

  9. Fashion forward: Researchers, designers debut new tech on New York City runway

    In his work in visual merchandising, designer Kenroy Tyrell has used LED lights in displays for trade shows and showrooms. But on this particular day, he found himself using the technology in a way he never anticipated—as part of a garment he had created. Tyrell was one of 20 participants in the Brooklyn Public Library’s BKLYN Fashion Academy, a program geared toward exposing designers to the entrepreneurial side of the industry as they design collections.…

    May 30th, 2019

  10. Machine teaching with Dr. Patrice Simard

    Episode 78, May 29, 2019- Machine learning is a powerful tool that enables computers to learn by observing the world, recognizing patterns and self-training via experience. Much like humans. But while machines perform well when they can extract knowledge from large amounts of labeled data, their learning outcomes remain vastly inferior to humans when data is limited. That’s why Dr. Patrice Simard, Distinguished Engineer and head of the Machine Teaching group at Microsoft, is using…

    May 29th, 2019

  11. Swimming in creative waters: A young artist, an inventor, and a nurturing sea of family and colleagues

    Technical Fellow and Director of Microsoft Research Eric Horvitz was completely floored as he spun around and spied the stunning sculpture that had silently been wheeled in behind him. The evening’s gathering had been arranged to celebrate a special birthday. His wife, Mary, had just motioned to him to come join her as she prepared to deliver remarks to friends that had gathered at their home. But now, he stood before a dazzling and dramatic…

    May 28th, 2019

  12. The productive software engineer with Dr. Tom Zimmermann

    Episode 77, May 22, 2019- If you’re in software development, Dr. Tom Zimmermann, a senior researcher at Microsoft Research in Redmond, wants you to be more productive, and he’s here to help. How, you might ask? Well, while productivity can be hard to measure, his research in the Empirical Software Engineering group is attempting to do just that by using insights from actual data, rather than just gut feelings, to improve the software development process.…

    May 22nd, 2019