PhD Summer School 2014


PhD Summer School Participants 2014The PhD Summer School is an annual event that is organized at Microsoft Research Cambridge in relation to the Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Programme. The ninth Microsoft Research Summer School took place at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, from 30 June to 4 July 2014. It included a series of talks of academic interest, transferable skills talks, and poster sessions that provided invited students the opportunity to present their work to Microsoft researchers.

Invited students included PhD students in their first or second year from universities and research institutions with which Microsoft Research partners, as well as all Microsoft Research PhD Scholars. In addition, lectures and posters sessions were open to all research staff and students from the University of Cambridge.

For Microsoft Research Cambridge directions, accommodations, and local information:

Scarlet Schwiderski-GroscheSummer School Chair

Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche
Senior Research Program Manager
Microsoft Research Connections

About the Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Programme

The Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Programme was developed in 2004 to support research collaborations between academics in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region with Microsoft Research researchers in the Cambridge Lab. Currently, there are approximately 100 students working at universities and research organizations across the whole region on peer-reviewed projects and in collaboration with their Microsoft Research Cambridge co-supervisors.


Monday, 30 June

Time Session
Arrival and check in at Selwyn College
Registration and High Tea at Selwyn College
Free Time

Tuesday, 1 July

Time Session Speaker
Coach Transfer: Selwyn to Microsoft Research and Sign In of All Attendees
Welcome to Microsoft Research Cambridge
Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche,
Microsoft Research
How to Give a Great Research Talk
Simon Peyton Jones, Microsoft Research
Morning Break
The Evolution of Innovation
Hermann Hauser, Amadeus Capital Partners
Lunch/Poster Session
Research Parallel Sessions
Innovation, Invention & Design Thinking
Haiyan Zhang,
Microsoft Research
Improving Reliability of Compilers
Nuno Lopes, Microsoft Research
Afternoon Break
Research Parallel Sessions
No Compromises: Distributed Transactions with Consistency, Availability, and Performance
Aleksandar Dragojevic, Microsoft Research
When Distortion is Good and Fidelity is Bad: Lessons from Video-mediated Communication Research in the Wild
Sean Rintel,
Microsoft Research
Coach Transfer: Microsoft Research to WildTracks, Go Karting
Go-Karting at WildTracks Karting and BBQ
Coach Transfer: WildTracks to Selwyn College

Wednesday, 2 July

Time Session Speaker
Coach Transfer: Selwyn to Microsoft Research and Sign In of All Attendees
 Research Parallel Session

Proof Engineering, from the Four Colour to the Odd Order Theorem

Georges Gonthier, Microsoft Research

 Modelling all Life on Earth. Yes, Really!

Drew Purves,
Microsoft Research
Morning Break
 Research Parallel Session
In Plain Sight: Online Tracking and Profiling

Natasa Milic-Frayling, Microsoft Research

 FaRM: Fast Remote Memory

Aleksandar Dragojevic, Microsoft Research

Lunch/Poster Session
Cloud Computing—Big Data and Beyond
Kenji Takeda,
Microsoft Research
Afternoon Break
Strategic Thinking for Researchers
Andy Gordon,
Microsoft Research
 Research Parallel Session
 Windows Azure Tutorial
 .NET Gadgeteer Workshop
Coach transfer: Microsoft Research to Selwyn College
.NET Gadgeteer Hackathon and Dinner (optional for maximum of 20 people)

Thursday, 3 July

Time Session Speaker
Coach Transfer: Selwyn to Microsoft Research and Sign In of All Attendees
Delivering a Fabulous Research Talk; How to Tell More Stories, Use Less PowerPoint and Get to the Point When Presenting
Dave Yewman,
Dash Consulting
Morning Break
Delivering a Fabulous Research Talk; How To Tell More Stories, Use Less PowerPoint and Get to the Point When Presenting
Dave Yewman,
Dash Consulting
Lunch/Poster Session
The Once and Future Internet

Jon Crowcroft, University of Cambridge

How to Give a Great Research Talk
Simon Peyton Jones, Microsoft Research
DemoFest (including Afternoon Break)
Walk to Microsoft Research to Jesus College
Drinks and Group Photo
Formal Dinner at Jesus College
Coach Transfer: Downing College to Selwyn College

Friday, 4 July

Time Session Speaker
Coach Transfer: Selwyn to Microsoft Research and Sign In of All Attendees
Pixel Perfect – Using Image Processing to Improve Outcomes for Cancer Patients

Raj Jena,
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

How to Present a Poster at an International Conference
Sue Duraikan,
Duraikan Training
Morning Break
Rough Guide to Being an Entrepreneur
Jack Lang,
University of Cambridge
PhD Summer School Closes | Grab-and-Go Lunch

Abstracts and Speakers

Andrew Blake | Laboratory Director, Microsoft Research

blakeWelcome to Microsoft Research Cambridge


Andrew Blake is a Microsoft Distinguished Scientist and the Laboratory Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge, England. He joined Microsoft in 1999 as a Senior Researcher to found the Computer Vision group. In 2008, he became a Deputy Managing Director at the lab, before assuming his current position in 2010. Prior to joining Microsoft, Andrew trained in mathematics and electrical engineering in Cambridge England, and studied for a doctorate in Artificial Intelligence in Edinburgh. He was an academic for 18 years, latterly on the faculty at Oxford University, where he was a pioneer in the development of the theory and algorithms that can make it possible for computers to behave as seeing machines.

Jon Crowcroft | Marconi Professor of Communications Systems in the Cambridge Computer Laboratory

The Once and Future Internet


“The Once and Future Internet,” with apologies to T. H. White. In this talk, I will describe the past and anticipated future of the technology of the Internet, briefly structuring the seminar around the themes inspired by the volumes of the book, The Once and Future King, by T. H. White.

In the beginning, we were all learning about computer communications networks with little guidance. There were many parallel attempts to design and build what became packet switched networks. A bit like Mort learning lessons (remember Art in the Disney film, The Sword in the Stone) from many animals on how to fly, swim, etc, we had to learn how to do naming, addressing, routing, reliability and performance management.

In the end, the winner who pulled the sword out of the stone, so to speak, was the Internet, perhaps because we just had more funding for longer and especially since it was US based.

Having constructed the Internet as a prototype, in 1992, Tim Berners-Lee showed up with the World Wide Web, almost complete from day 1 as a much nicer way for everyday folk to use the network, than the rather odd applications and user interfaces that we had previously devised. Almost immediately (as with Arthur’s kingdom described in The Queen of Air and Darkness aka The Witch in the Wood) bad people started to show up on the network. We had made little provision for security.

It seems that with all the best intentions, users are (perhaps like Lancelot, in The Ill-Made Knight) their own worst enemies. Most people fall for scams, phishing, and so on. Some may wonder what the Holy Grail of the Internet was at this point, and I will offer some possible candidates, while not claiming to be any kind of Galahad.

The end of the Internet is frequently foretold—much as the end of Arthur’s Round Table—the ideals espoused by early (and even practised in the mid-period of the Internet in its past 30 years) seem to be evaporating, like The Candle in the Wind.

However, some of the principles for the design of the network are just that: principles. As in The Book of Merlin, the engineering design rules handed down from early Internet seem likely to last in future incantations. In particular, the end-to-end argument appears to continue to inform many design discussions, and I’ll finish some observations on its continued applicability.


Jon Crowcroft has been the Marconi Professor of Communications Systems in the Computer Laboratory since October 2001. He has worked in the area of Internet support for multimedia communications for over 30 years. Three main topics of interest have been scalable multicast routing, practical approaches to traffic management, and the design of deployable end-to-end protocols. Current active research areas are Opportunistic Communications, Social Networks, and techniques and algorithms to scale infrastructure-free mobile systems. He leans towards a “build and learn” paradigm for research.

He graduated in Physics from Trinity College, University of Cambridge in 1979, gained an MSc in Computing in 1981 and PhD in 1993, both from UCL. He is a Fellow the Royal Society, a Fellow of the ACM, a Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the IET and the Royal Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the IEEE.

He likes teaching, and has published a few books based on learning materials.

Aleksandar Dragojevic | Researcher, Microsoft Research

aleksandar-dragojevic100x132FaRM: Fast Remote Memory


I will talk about the design and implementation of FaRM, a new main memory distributed computing platform that exploits RDMA communication to improve both latency and throughput by an order of magnitude relative to state of the art main memory systems that use TCP/IP. FaRM exposes the memory of machines in the cluster as a shared address space. Applications can allocate, read, write, and free objects in the address space. They can use distributed transactions to simplify dealing with complex corner cases that do not significantly impact performance. FaRM provides good common-case performance with lock-free reads over RDMA and with support for collocating objects and function shipping to enable the use of efficient single machine transactions. FaRM uses RDMA both to directly access data in the shared address space and for fast messaging and is carefully tuned for the best RDMA performance. We used FaRM to build a key-value store and a graph store similar to Facebook’s. They both perform well, for example, a 20-machine cluster can perform 160 million key-value lookups per second with a latency of 31 micro-seconds.


I am a researcher in Systems and Networking group at Microsoft Research Cambridge. I am interested in many areas of computer science, but mainly in concurrent and distributed computing. Lately I have been really excited about several emerging hardware trends and their impact on the design of software systems that run in data centres. I am currently looking into how to build systems to best exploit large amounts of DRAM and fast networks with RDMA primitives. I prefer staying on the practical side of problems and enjoy implementing real systems ranging from simple script based solutions to everyday problems to complex research prototypes. I received my PhD from EPFL Switzerland in 2012, where I worked on performance of software transactional memory. Before that, I received my Graduate Electrical Engineer diploma from University of Novi Sad, Serbia in 2004.

Sue Duraikan | Duraikan Training

duraikanHow to Present a Poster at an International Conference

  • Watch the Session


Presenting a poster at an international conference is a terrific opportunity to promote your research and raise your professional profile in a global academic forum. However, it can be daunting to compete with other presenters to get the attention of a passing audience. As well as a clear and captivating poster, you need the ability to build rapport quickly and present your subject positively and succinctly.

This can be especially challenging when English is the shared language but not everyone’s mother tongue. Whether you are a native or a non-native English speaker, you will require flexibility and sensitivity to others in order to get your message across clearly.

During the three poster sessions, Sue will be hovering in the room, watching and listening to your approach. She will then prepare to highlight on the final day the key thought-processes as well as the verbal and non-verbal skills you need to give a powerful poster presentation.

Sue will also be available each day to provide confidential one-to-one feedback for any students who are interested.


Sue Duraikan runs Duraikan Training (, a consultancy which aims to help individuals and organisations develop. Duraikan Training provides support in designing and delivering learning strategies. We also run group workshops and one-to-one coaching on a wide range of professional skills. As a former teacher of French and German and with wide experience of working globally, Sue Duraikan has a particular interest in cross-cultural communication, and deep respect for those who operate daily in a second or third language.

Jasmin Fisher | Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research

jasmin-fisher100x132Computing Cancer


Cancer is a highly complex aberrant cellular state where mutations impact a multitude of signalling pathways within the cell. Over the last few years it has become apparent that in order to understand and fight cancer, it must be viewed as a system, rather than as a set of cellular activities. The need to investigate cancer as a holistic system calls for new techniques that will allow this paradigm shift. In this talk, I will discuss some of the progress made towards achieving such a system-level understanding using computer modelling and formal verification. Looking forward, I will propose a grand challenge for computing and biology that could shed new light on our ability to control cell fates during development and disease and potentially change the way we treat cancer in the future.


Jasmin Fisher is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge and a Reader and Group Leader in the Department of Biochemistry in Cambridge University. She received her BSc in Biology (1996) and MSc in Biophysics (1998) from Ben-Gurion University in Israel, and her PhD in Neuroimmunology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel (2003). She started her work on the application of formal methods to biology as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Computer Science at the Weizmann Institute (2003-2004), and then continued to work on the development of novel formalisms and tools that are specifically-tailored for modelling biological processes as a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Computer Science at the EPFL in Switzerland (2004-2007). In 2007, Jasmin moved to Cambridge to join the Microsoft Research lab. Jasmin is one of the founders of the field of Executable Biology and a leader in the area of formal methods in biology. She is a pioneer in using computer program analysis techniques to construct and analyse executable models of cellular processes and disease. Her group’s research focuses on molecular mechanisms controlling cell fate decisions during normal development and cancer.

Georges Gonthier | Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

georgesgonthier100x132Proof Engineering, from the Four Colour to the Odd Order Theorem


Thirty-five years ago, computers made a dramatic debut in mathematics with the famous proof of the Four Colour Theorem by Appel and Haken. Their role has been expanding recently, from computational devices to tools that can tackle deduction and proofs too complex for (most) human minds, such as the Kepler conjecture or the Classification of Finite Simple Groups.

These new “machine” proofs entail fundamental changes in the practice of mathematics: a shift from craftsmanship, where each argument is a tribute to the ingenuity of the mathematician that perfected it, to a form of engineering where proofs are created more systematically. In addition to formal definitions and theorems, mathematical theories also contain clever, context-sensitive notations, usage conventions, and proof methods. To mechanize advanced mathematical results it is essential to capture these more informal elements, replacing informal and flexible usage conventions with rigorous interfaces, and exercise apprenticeship with precise algorithms. This can be difficult, requiring an array of techniques closer to software engineering than formal logic, but it is essential to obtaining formal proofs of graduate-level mathematics, and can give new insight as well.

In this talk, we will give several examples of such empirical formal mathematics that we have encountered in the process of mechanizing a large corpus of Combinatorics and Algebra required by the proofs of the Four Colour and Odd Order Theorem.


Georges Gonthier is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge, which he joined in 2003, after 13 year in France at Inria. Dr. Gonthier has worked on the Esterel reactive programming language, optimal computation of functional programs, formal verification of concurrent memory management, the join calculus model of concurrency and security, concurrency analysis of the Ariane 5 flight software, and a fully computer-checked proof of the famous Four Colour Theorem. He now heads the Mathematical Components project at the Microsoft Research Inria Joint Center, which recently completed the formalization of the Odd Order theorem, the landmark result that ultimately lead to the Classification of Finite Simple Groups. Dr. Gonthier was awarded the EADS Grand Prize in Computer Science in 2011.

Andy Gordon | Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

gordonStrategic Thinking for Researchers


From time to time at Microsoft Research we set aside time to talk about strategic aspects of research, that is, the big picture of why we do research and how to have different sorts of impact, beyond the more immediate tasks of writing papers, giving talks, and transferring ideas. This talk will cover some of these strategies for having a happy and productive career as a researcher.


Andy Gordon is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge, where he manages Programming Principles and Tools, and is a Professor at the University of Edinburgh. Andy wrote his PhD on input/output in lazy functional programming, and is the proud inventor of Haskell’s “>>=” notation for monads. He’s worked on a range of topics in concurrency, verification, and security, never straying too far from his roots in functional programming. His current passion is a functional language to enable probabilistic inference from Excel.

Raj Jena | Consultant Clinical Oncologist for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

jenaPixel perfect – Using Image Processing to Improve Outcomes for Cancer Patients


Radiation therapy is an extremely effective cancer treatment, and is used in the treatment of around 40% of patients who are cured of cancer. Modern radiotherapy systems can deliver treatment doses with exquisite precision to static and moving targets within the body. The challenge for oncologists is no longer one of precision, but rather the complexity of the imaging data that we must comprehend in order to deliver the best cancer therapy. In this lecture, I present examples of the way in which image processing, tumour biology, and radiation oncology have become highly interwoven fields of study. I will also illustrate some important outputs of research collaborations between Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Microsoft Research Labs Cambridge.


Dr Raj Jena is a Consultant Clinical Oncologist for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, visiting fellow in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Science at the University of Surrey, and a visiting scientist at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN). His research interests are in the application of advanced imaging techniques and radiotherapy treatment to improve outcomes for patients with central nervous system tumours.

Jack Lang | Lecturer and Entrepreneur, University of Cambridge

langRough Guide to Being an Entrepreneur


At some stage, you might want to exploit your ideas by starting a company, just as Bill Gates and Paul Allen did in 1975. It might even be the next Microsoft, or bought by them. I’ll give an overview of the process, explain some of the success factors investors look for, and how to go about writing a business plan and getting off the ground.


Jack Lang is a serial entrepreneur and business angel with high-tech and Internet companies based in Cambridge, where he is Entrepreneur in Residence, Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, an affiliated lecturer and member of the Faculty Board at the Computer Lab and a by-fellow of Emmanuel College. His latest venture is Raspberry Pi, a $25 computer for education. Previously, he was founder of Netchannel Ltd, an early interactive TV company that was acquired by ntl—where he became chief technologist. Before that, he founded Electronic Share Information Ltd, one of the first online brokerages, acquired by E*Trade Inc. Prior to that, he started a consultancy (now SAIC UK Ltd) that was involved in the early days of the “Cambridge Phenomenon”, and was a proper academic at the Computer Lab. He is author of The High-Tech Entrepreneur’s Handbook (FT.Com/Prentice Hall 2001). He has other interests in molecular gastronomy and fireworks.

Siân Lindley | Researcher, Microsoft Research

sianlindley100x132Digital Possessions


It is well known that people struggle to manage and keep track of their ‘digital belongings’. This problem is exacerbated as our relationships and interactions with digital content diversify, shifting from the notion of digital objects – files – stored on a computer, to a variety of forms of content hosted on social media sites, streamed through services, and stored in the Cloud. In this talk, I draw on fieldwork to consider how digital possessions are understood in the current landscape of Cloud computing, Web 2.0 and operating systems that hide away digital objects in folder hierarchies, and what this entails for the ways people feel about, interact with, use and keep them.


Siân Lindley is a researcher in the Socio-Digital Systems group at the Microsoft Research lab in Cambridge. Her research involves studies of technologies in use and the practices that build up around them. Her recent research explores how people manage and keep their digital ‘stuff’, and how this is becoming more complex in the current landscape of cloud computing and social media. Siân has a PhD in Psychology from the University of York and an MSc in Human-Centred Computing Systems from the University of Sussex. She worked as a Lecturer at UCL’s Interaction Centre before joining Microsoft in 2007.

Natasa Milic-Frayling | Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

milic-fraylingIn Plain Sight: Online Tracking and Profiling


Internet advertisers reach millions of customers through practices that involve real time tracking of users’ online activities. The tracking is commonly conducted through browser cookies by third-party ad services. They engage with websites to facilitate marketing campaigns and gather service analytics. By installing cookies on users’ computers, they track the users as they navigate from one site to another. Other trackers exploit shortcomings in the access control to the cache and apply cookie-less profiling. By using Java scripts in their webpages, the trackers await unexpected visitors and gain access to the cached content. In that manner, they can reconstruct the users’ browsing history.

At the same time, user applications that facilitate interaction with services, such as commonly used Internet browsers, reveal little or no information about the information flow between the devices and services. That leaves the consumers with no insight about the breadth of the digital footprints they leave while interacting with services and no understanding of how that data is exploited. In the broader context of privacy and cyber-security, it is important to consider methods and computing designs that empower consumers to make well informed decisions and take actions that keep themselves and other safe.

We outline a research agenda that investigates several aspects of this problem area. That involves (1) characterizing the tracking ecosystem and the value exchange within it and (2) understanding of the users’ attitudes, behavior, and awareness of the tracking practices. We discuss the findings of several studies that investigate these issues. While they motivate us to think of alternatives to the privacy invading practices, they also urge deeper questions about the principles of design and comprehensibility of computing systems.


As a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge, Natasa sets research directions for the Integrated Systems group, an inter-disciplinary team focused on the design, prototyping, and evaluation of information management and communication systems. Her research covers a spectrum of issues from sharing and making sense of information in collaborative settings, to analysing social media networks and devising trustworthy online services.

Natasa is a leading expert in the area of digital preservation. She is actively involved with the Open PLANETS Foundation and the EU SCAPE initiative on scalable cloud-based services for long term access to digital content. She is equally passionate about innovation in personal and social computing and promotes a dialogue between IT industry, consumers, and policy makers on the issues that arise from the novel usage of technology.

Natasa received her doctorate in Applied Mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, in 1988. Prior to joining Microsoft Research in 1998, she served as Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Seton Hill College and, subsequently, as Director of Research at the Claritech Corporation, a spin-off company from Carnegie-Mellon University focussing on Natural Language Processing and Information Retrieval. During her career at Microsoft Research, Natasa led a Research Partnership Programme, promoting collaboration between Microsoft Research and industry. She is actively involved with a wider community of academics and practitioners through public speaking and research collaborations.

Simon Peyton Jones | Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

simonpjHow to Write a Great Research Paper

How to Give a Great Research Talk


Writing papers and giving talks are key skills for any researcher, but they aren’t easy. In this pair of presentations, I’ll describe simple guidelines that I follow for writing papers and giving talks, which I think may be useful to you too. I don’t have all the answers—far from it—and I hope that the presentation will evolve into a discussion in which you share your own insights, rather than a lecture.


Simon Peyton Jones, MA, MBCS, CEng, graduated from Trinity College Cambridge in 1980. After two years in industry, he spent seven years as a lecturer at University College London, and nine years as a professor at Glasgow University, before moving to Microsoft Research in 1998. His main research interest is in functional programming languages, their implementation, and their application. He has led a succession of research projects focused around the design and implementation of production-quality functional-language systems for both uniprocessors and parallel machines. He was a key contributor to the design of the now-standard functional language Haskell, and is the lead designer of the widely used Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC). He has written two textbooks about the implementation of functional languages. More generally, he is interested in language design, rich type systems, software component architectures, compiler technology, code generation, runtime systems, virtual machines, garbage collection, and more. He is particularly motivated by direct use of principled theory to practical language design and implementation—that’s one reason he loves functional programming so much. He is also keen to apply ideas from advanced programming languages to mainstream settings.

Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche | Senior Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research

Summer School Chair; Welcome to PhD Summer School 2014

Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche is a Senior Research Program Manager at Microsoft Research Cambridge, working for Microsoft Research Connections in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region. Scarlet has a PhD in Computer Science from University of Cambridge. She was in academia for almost 10 years before joining Microsoft in March 2009. In academia, she worked as Lecturer in Information Security at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Jamie Shotton | Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research

shottonBody Part Recognition and the Development of Kinect

Late 2010, Microsoft launched Xbox Kinect, an amazing new depth-sensing camera and a revolution in gaming where your body movements allow you to control the game. In this talk I’ll present a behind-the-scenes look at the development of Kinect, focusing on the depth camera, the challenges of human pose estimation, and the body part recognition algorithm that drives Kinect’s skeletal tracking pipeline. Body part recognition uses machine learning to efficiently produce an interpretation of pixels coming from the Kinect camera into different parts of the body: head, left hand, right knee, etc. The approach was designed to be robust: firstly, the system is trained with a vast and highly varied training set of synthetic images to ensure the system works for all ages, body shapes & sizes, clothing and hair styles; and secondly, the recognition does not rely on any temporal information, allowing the system to initialize from arbitrary poses and preventing catastrophic loss of track.

Kenji Takeda | Solutions Architect, Microsoft Research

takedaCloud Computing—Big Data and Beyond


We live in an information society, with cloud computing is changing the way we live, work and play in a world of devices and services. In this talk we’ll explore what, why and how this new era of computing is changing the way we think about conceiving, developing and delivering software and services. We’ll then look at how the concept of Big Data is transforming science, and the opportunities it presents for the future. Find out more at

This talk will be followed by a hands-on Windows Azure workshop.

Making Magic with F# Type Providers


Learn how F#, the open-source, functional-first language, can be used to effortlessly work with data at web-scale. It can make complex problems much easier to think through, and increase the quality and speed of any software project. Find out more at and experiment yourself at


Dr Kenji Takeda is Solutions Architect and Technical Manager for the Microsoft Research Connections EMEA team. He has extensive experience in Cloud Computing, High Performance and High Productivity Computing, Data-intensive Science, Scientific Workflows, Scholarly Communication, Engineering and Educational Outreach. He has a passion for developing novel computational approaches to tackle fundamental and applied problems in science and engineering. He was previously Co-Director of the Microsoft Institute for High Performance Computing, and Senior Lecturer in Aeronautics, at the University of Southampton, UK. There he worked with leading high value manufacturing companies such as Airbus, AgustaWestland, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Formula One teams, to develop state-of-the-art capability for improving science and engineering processes. He also worked in the areas of aerodynamics, aeroacoustics and flight simulation.

John Winn | Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

johnwinn100x132Probabilistic Programming the Future of Machine Learning?


In today’s world of connectivity and ubiquitous data, we need to be able to solve ever more complex machine-learning problems. Ideally, we would like the solutions to be provided automatically, given a definition of the problem. But how do we even describe a complex and intricate problem in a way a machine can understand?

Probabilistic programming gives us a powerful and flexible way to express such machine-learning problems. It uses the rich expressivity of modern programming languages to describe a problem as an inference query. Once you have a probabilistic program, the idea is to use an existing inference ‘engine’ to actually run the program and so answer the inference query automatically. This allows the program to be tested rapidly and, if necessary, quickly modified and improved to meet the needs of the application.

In this lecture, I will describe efforts going on at Microsoft Research Cambridge to create a fast, general purpose programming language, called probabilistic C#. As an example, I will show how probabilistic C# can be used to produce compact, complex models of unstructured text. To do inference in probabilistic C# (to run the program), we use the Infer.NET inference engine. I will discuss some of the (many) issues arising in trying to build a general purpose inference engine and describe approaches we are investigating to make running probabilistic C# programs both fast and accurate. The aim is to make probabilistic C# an ideal language for solving the next generation of machine learning problems.


A principal researcher in the Microsoft Research Machine Learning and Perception group, John Winn is obsessed by making it easier to do machine learning. He works on automating machine learning with applications in information retrieval, computational biology, and machine vision, amongst many others. He recently worked on a paint program that could only paint horses and also built an object recognizer that caused Bill Gates to take off his glasses.

Dave Yewman | Dash Consulting

dave-yewman100x132.jpgDelivering a fabulous research talk


We’ve all been there: a dark room, a long and boring speech accompanied by an endless stream of bullet-heavy PowerPoint slides. It’s maddening. In this session you’ll learn how to really engage an audience, how to deliver a research presentation with emphasis and energy, and finally how to use body language to your advantage. You’ll also learn what separates a good presentation slide from a bad one, and how to calibrate a speech so that even complicated, technical topics can be explained in a clear, concise, compelling way.


Dave is a strategic communications expert with more than 19 years of experience in the field. A former newspaper reporter and columnist, Dave has counseled senior executives at a variety of companies, managed communications teams and led business development efforts. He has also conducted storytelling workshops and presentation training sessions for thousands of executives at numerous companies, including Microsoft, CA, Clif Bar, Dell, CBS, Ingram Micro, aQuantive, T-Mobile, MercyCorps, DriveSavers, Reebok, Tripwire, Wieden + Kennedy, SnapChat, Zurich Insurance and Adidas.

He has spoken to numerous groups about how to translate complex scientific and technical information into clear, concise, compelling language. Before establishing Elevator Speech Inc., Dave was the general manager of Weber Shandwick’s Portland office. Before joining Weber Shandwick, he led a Waggener Edstrom PR team charged with developing strategic PR programs for Microsoft in a variety of industries, including financial services, manufacturing and healthcare. Dave was an award- winning reporter and columnist at The Galveston Daily News in Texas and an on-camera spokesman for The University of Texas Medical Branch. He is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado’s school of journalism.


You will have the opportunity to present your research to other Microsoft researchers and participants during a 2 hour poster session. This will enable you to promote and discuss your work with experts in your field and with a wider audience.

What to expect during your poster presentation

Poster sessions are scheduled between 12:00–14:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Your poster will be selected for presentation on one day only. Posters will be displayed on individual poster boards distributed around the area where the lunchtime buffet is served.

During your poster session, you will be expected to stand by your poster so that your fellow students and researchers from the Microsoft Cambridge Lab can have the opportunity to read your work whilst eating lunch and have the chance for a discussion.

You do not need to prepare a long speech, but it is a good idea to prepare a short introductory explanation (perhaps 30 seconds to a minute long) to capture their attention at the start. Don’t worry it is all very relaxed.

How to design your poster

You will need to design a poster that is A1 portrait (594 mm width x 841 mm height) in colour. Your poster should be created in either PowerPoint or PDF format.

Your poster should articulate clearly and concisely either visually or textually:

  • The challenge being addressed or question being answered by the research in such a way that a non-expert can understand the importance of the research
  • The focus of the research
  • The intended outcome of the research
  • The current stage of the research
  • Any research results, preliminary conclusions, or potentially interesting next steps

Posters should be aimed at other students and researchers who do not necessarily have expertise in that specific area of research.

Posters should clearly display your name and the name of your university.

Guidelines on how to design your poster

For helpful guidelines on how to design an academic poster, please visit this link. Once the link has opened, you will need to click Go to the tutorial.

Once you have registered, Sue Duraikan, who returns by popular demand to present her talk on Poster Presentations at the Summer School will be in touch via email to offer support in preparing your poster. There will also be an opportunity to gain confidential 1:1 feedback on your poster and your presentation skills.

Printing your poster

We will be happy to print your poster for you if you send us an electronic copy (PowerPoint or PDF format) by email to before Monday, 9 June 2014. Otherwise please ensure you bring your poster with you to Summer School.

Poster submission deadline: Monday, 9 June 2014


Food and drink


Cambridge Arts Theatre
6 St Edwards Passage, Cambridge, CB2 3PL
Tel: 01223 578933

ADC Theatre
Park Street, Cambridge, CB5 8AS
Tel: 01223 359547

Mumford Theatre
Anglia Polytechnic University, East Road, Cambridge, CB1 1PT
Tel: 0845 196 2320

Cambridge Corn Exchange
3, Parson Court, Wheeler Street, Cambridge, CB2 3QE
Tel: 01223 357851

The Junction
Cambridge Leisure Park, Clifton Road, Cambridge, CB1 7GX
Tel: 01223 511511


The Arts Picture House
38-39 St Andrews Street, Cambridge, CB2 3AR
Tel: 01223 572929

Cambridge Leisure Park, Clifton Road, Cambridge, CB1 7DY
Tel: 0871 200 2000

Vue Cinema
The Grafton Centre, East Rd, Cambridge, CB1 1PS
Tel: 0871 2240240


What is the week long agenda?

The agenda will be full of exciting events including demonstrations, talks and discussions which will enable you to interact with and present your poster together with networking events. For more details, please take a look at the agenda.

When should I arrive at Selwyn College?

You should arrive at Selwyn College no later than 15:00 on Monday, 30 June 2014 for check in at The Porters Lodge. Registration and High Tea is between 15:00 – 17:00.

Directions to Selwyn College can be found here.

When should I book my travel?

You should book your travel as soon as possible, if applicable, to arrive no later than 15:00 on Monday 30th June 2014 and leave no earlier than 12.30 on Friday 4th July 2014 when Summer School officially closes.

Travel Tips

  • Where possible, please fly into either London Stansted or London City Airport which are closer to Cambridge and less congested.
  • Avoid flying into London Heathrow or London Gatwick airports which are quite a distance from Cambridge.
  • Cambridge Airport runs flights to and from a limited number of European destinations. See the Etihad Regional website for details.
  • Use the train where possible; it’s better for the environment!

When should I register for accommodation, when should I say I am arriving?

You will need to request a room for the day that you arrive. Please register for your accommodation via the link in your invitation by the 30th May 2014. Reservations should not be made directly.

When should I check out from Selwyn College?

Check out is before 9.30am on Friday 4th July 2014.

Where can I store my luggage when I check out from Selwyn College?

Luggage cannot be left at Selwyn College once you have checked out on Friday, 4 July but can be stored securely at Microsoft Cambridge whilst you attend Summer School for the morning.

What should I do if I require a visa?

If you require a letter to support your visa or to present to the port authorities upon entry, please download and complete the PhD Summer School 2014 Business Travel Support Letter Questionnaire when you complete your online registration and send it as an attachment to Your request will be processed and a soft copy of the invitation letter sent by email; if you require a hard copy letter, please provide a delivery address. Please keep in mind that the team will need at least a week to prepare the letter.

What about transportation?

You are responsible for getting to Selwyn College and should follow the travel reimbursement guidelines. All transportation during Summer School will be provided including transfers between Selwyn College and Microsoft Research.

What is the dress code?

The dress code is smart/casual.

Will I be able access internet during this event?

Selwyn College will offer free wi-fi in the bedrooms and public areas. Microsoft Research will offer free wi-fi access in the building. There will be instructions available when you access the building.

What should I do if I have a Special Dietary Need?

Vegetarian options will be provided for all meals and snacks. Should you have any special dietary needs, please make sure you let us know when you register.

Will I be able to have the contact details of the other attendees?

Yes, if you have consented to sharing your details during your online registration.

Will I be able to access any of the photographs taken during Summer School?

If you consented to sharing your photographs during your online registration you will have access to the photographs after the event.

What should I do if I need a doctor or have a medical emergency?

In a medical emergency:

  • Dial 999

For a non-emergency:

A list of local medical surgeries can be found here or ring one listed below:

  • Cherry Hinton Medical Centre 0844 8151440
  • Bridge Street Medical Centre 08444 773939
  • Petersfield Medical Practice 01223 350 647
  • York Street Medical Practice 01223 364 116

In the case of sickness or an emergency, where possible, please notify Sue Flanders, PhD Scholarship Programme Manager on 01223 476 996 or by email as soon as you can.