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. Machine Learning for fair decisions

    Over the past decade, machine learning systems have begun to play a key role in many high-stakes decisions: Who is interviewed for a job? Who is approved for a bank loan? Who receives parole? Who is admitted to a school? Human decision makers are susceptible to many forms of prejudice and bias, such as those rooted in gender and racial stereotypes. One might hope that machines would be able to make decisions more fairly than…

    July 17th, 2018

  2. New perspectives on contextual bandit

    What is the common denominator between the following situations: a doctor choosing among different drugs for a sequence of patients; a website selecting ads for its visitors based on the information it has about them; and a travel agency making recommendations to its customers for their next vacation? All can be viewed as instances of an abstract mathematical problem known as contextual multi-armed bandit. In the last decade, this problem has been a focus of…

    July 13th, 2018

  3. TextWorld: A learning environment for training reinforcement learning agents, inspired by text-based games

    Today, fresh out of the Microsoft Research Montreal lab, comes an open-source project called TextWorld. TextWorld is an extensible Python framework for generating text-based games. Reinforcement learning researchers can use TextWorld to train and test AI agents in skills such as language understanding, affordance extraction, memory and planning, exploration and more. Researchers can study these in the context of generalization and transfer learning. TextWorld further runs existing text-based games, like the legendary Zork, for evaluating…

    July 12th, 2018

  4. Helping proteomics scientists share peptide data: Azure does the heavy lifting

    Scientific research breakthroughs are often achieved when many different scientists, in different labs and organizations, work together on a single task. That happened at the turn of the 21st century with the Human Genome Project, where human DNA was mapped for future reference and is now key to many breakthroughs in medicine. This is happening again, with a similarly visionary effort: the Human Proteome Project (HUPO), which is cataloging all 20,000 human proteins, such as…

    July 11th, 2018

  5. The story of an Office AI feature: How AI can promote efficient meeting preparation

    Adam Troy had an idea. He was spending so much time searching through old emails and attachments to prepare for meetings: Could AI help him be better prepared for meetings? Could machine learning automatically identify the most relevant emails and documents he needed for his meetings? Troy, who works on a team that incubates projects that infuse AI into Office, built an early prototype application to see. At the same time, Paul Bennett’s Information and…

    July 10th, 2018

  6. In between the lines: Broadening access to web search by understanding the needs of people with dyslexia

    People with dyslexia perceive the world in different ways when it comes to the arrangement of letters and words on paper – or, these days, on web pages. Indeed, so much of modern life and accessibility to the information that enables us to participate in it depends on our ability to perceive and process online written content – such as search results and the web pages they represent – that people who don’t have dyslexia…

    July 9th, 2018

  7. Adversarial and reinforcement learning-based approaches to information retrieval

    Traditionally, machine learning based approaches to information retrieval have taken the form of supervised learning-to-rank models. Recent advances in other machine learning approaches—such as adversarial learning and reinforcement learning—should find interesting new applications in future retrieval systems. At Microsoft AI & Research, we have been exploring some of these methods in the context of web search. We will share some of our recent work in this area at SIGIR 2018. This post briefly describes what…

    July 9th, 2018

  8. Democratizing APIs with Natural Language Interfaces

    Benefiting from a confluence of factors, such as service-oriented architecture, cloud computing, and Internet-of-Things (IoT), application program interfaces – APIs – are playing an increasingly important role in both the virtual and the physical world. For example, web services, such as those featuring weather, sports, and finance, hosted in the cloud provide data and services to end users via web APIs and IoT devices expose their functionalities via APIs to other devices on the network.…

    July 2nd, 2018

  9. Examining the social impacts of artificial intelligence with Dr. Fernando Diaz

    Episode 30, June 27, 2018 - Dr. Diaz shares his insights on the kinds of questions we need to be asking about artificial intelligence and its impact on society. He also talks about how algorithms can affect your taste in music, and why now, more than ever, computer science education needs to teach ethics along with algorithms.

    June 27th, 2018

  10. Probabilistic predicates to accelerate inference queries

    Imagine having to narrow down a video of passing vehicles captured on a traffic camera to red SUVs that are exceeding the speed limit. Such queries over images, videos and text are an increasingly common use-case for data analytics platforms. A query to identify in-a-hurry red SUVs has to execute several machine learning modules on the video, for example, to detect parts of a video frame that contain vehicles, to classify the vehicles by type…

    June 25th, 2018

  11. Microsoft Research Montreal welcomes Fernando Diaz, Principal Researcher and lead of the new Montreal FATE Research Group

    Microsoft Research Montreal further bolsters its research force this month, welcoming Fernando Diaz to the Montreal FATE (Fairness, Accountability, Transparency and Ethics in AI) research group as Principal Researcher. Diaz, whose research area is the design of information access systems, including search engines, music recommendation services and crisis response platforms is particularly interested in understanding and addressing the societal implications of artificial intelligence more generally. Immediately previous to joining Microsoft Research Montreal, he was the…

    June 22nd, 2018

  12. Announcing Microsoft Research Open Data – Datasets by Microsoft Research now available in the cloud

    The Microsoft Research Outreach team has worked extensively with the external research community to enable adoption of cloud-based research infrastructure over the past few years. Through this process, we experienced the ubiquity of Jim Gray’s fourth paradigm of discovery based on data-intensive science – that is, almost all research projects have a data component to them. This data deluge also demonstrated a clear need for curated and meaningful datasets in the research community, not only…

    June 21st, 2018