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. What are the biases in my data?

    One challenge with AI algorithmic fairness is that one usually has to know the potential group(s) that an algorithm might discriminate against in the first place. However, in joint work with Maria De-Arteaga, Nathaniel Swinger, Tom Heffernan, and Max Leiserson, we automatically enumerate groups of people that may be discriminated against alongside potential biases. We do this using word embedding, a popular AI tool for processing language. This proves useful for detecting age, gender, religious,…

    February 13th, 2019

  2. Competing in the X Games of machine learning with Dr. Manik Varma

    Episode 63, February 13, 2019 - Dr. Varma tells us all about extreme classification (including where in the world you might actually run into 10 or 100 million options), reveals how his Parabel and Slice algorithms are making high quality recommendations in milliseconds, and proves, with both his life and his work, that being blind need not be a barrier to extreme accomplishment.

    February 13th, 2019

  3. Everything you always wanted to know about extreme classification (but were afraid to ask)

    Varma’s team published a paper that exploded the number of choices that could be considered from a search engine from five thousand to ten million. This changed the nature of the game and led to the establishment of a new research area in machine learning called extreme classification. Extreme classification deals with multi-class and multi-label problems involving an extremely large number of choices. Since then, extreme classification has opened a new paradigm for ranking and…

    February 12th, 2019

  4. Email overload: Using machine learning to manage messages, commitments

    As email continues to be not only an important means of communication but also an official record of information and a tool for managing tasks, schedules, and collaborations, making sense of everything moving in and out of our inboxes will only get more difficult. The good news is there’s a method to the madness of staying on top of your email, and Microsoft researchers are drawing on this behavior to create tools to support users.

    February 8th, 2019

  5. Putting the “human” in human computer interaction with Haiyan Zhang

    Episode 62, February 6, 2019 - Haiyan talks about her unique “brain hack” approach to the human-centered design process, and discusses a wide range of projects, from the connected play experience of Zanzibar, to Fizzyo, which turns laborious breathing exercises for children with cystic fibrosis into a video game, to Project Emma, an application of haptic vibration technology that, somewhat curiously, offsets the effects of tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease.

    February 6th, 2019

  6. Launching a new round of projects in the Swiss JRC – Research with impact

    January 31, 2019 marked the start of the sixth workshop for the Swiss Joint Research Center (Swiss JRC), an innovative and successful collaborative research engagement between Microsoft Research and the two universities that make up the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology—ETH Zurich (ETH) and EPFL. The Swiss JRC is a continuation of an outstanding collaborative engagement that began back in 2008, with these two world-class institutions. Microsoft recently further committed to this engagement by ensuring…

    February 5th, 2019

  7. Guidelines for human-AI interaction design

    The increasing availability and accuracy of AI has stimulated uses of AI technologies in mainstream user-facing applications and services. Along with opportunities for infusing valuable AI services in a wide range of products come challenges and questions about best practices and guidelines for human-centered design. A dedicated team of Microsoft researchers addressed this need by synthesizing and validating a set of guidelines for human-AI interaction. This work marks an important step toward much-needed best practices…

    February 1st, 2019

  8. Getting efficient with “What-happens-if …”

    Causal inference studies the relationship between causes and effects. For example, one kind of question that causal inference can answer is the “What-happens-if …” question. What happens if I take a specific medication? What happens if I raise the price of a product? What happens if I go to the ER? What happens if I change a public policy? Often, the answers to these questions vary based on context—different patients might be more or less…

    February 1st, 2019

  9. Enable(ing) people to do more with Dr. Rico Malvar

    Episode 61, January 30, 2019 - Dr. Rico Malvar recalls his early years at a fledgling Microsoft Research, talks about the exciting work he oversees now, explains why designing with the user is as important as designing for the user, and tells us how a challenge from an ex-football player with ALS led to a prize winning hackathon project and produced the core technology that allows you to type on a keyboard without your hands…

    January 30th, 2019

  10. Microsoft Research to present latest findings on fairness in socio-technical systems at FAT* 2019

    Researchers from Microsoft Research will present a series of studies and insights relating to fairness in machine learning systems and allocations at the FAT* Conference—the new flagship conference for fairness, accountability, and transparency in socio-technical systems—to be held from January 29–31 in Atlanta, Georgia. Presented across four papers and covering a broad spectrum of domains, the research is a reflection of the resolute commitment Microsoft Research has made to fairness in automated systems that shape…

    January 29th, 2019

  11. Traffic updates: Saying a lot while revealing a little

    The idea of crowdsourcing traffic data has been around for a while: If we can get vehicles on the roads to upload their current speeds, then we can get instant, up-to-date data on how fast traffic is moving for well-traveled segments. This is useful for finding the fastest route to a destination, avoiding slowdowns. There are problems with this idea, though. The main one is that drivers need to upload their location along with their…

    January 28th, 2019

  12. Creating better AI partners: A case for backward compatibility

    Artificial intelligence technologies hold great promise as partners in the real world. They’re in the early stages of helping doctors administer care to their patients and lenders determine the risk associated with loan applications, among other examples. But what happens when these systems that users have come to understand and employ in ways that will enhance their work are updated? Sure, we can assume an improvement in accuracy or speed on the part of the…

    January 25th, 2019