Portrait of Christian Borgs

Christian Borgs

Deputy Managing Director,
Microsoft Research New England


Christian Borgs is deputy managing director and co-founder of Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

He studied physics at the University of Munich, the University Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, the Institut des Hautes Etudes in Bures-sur-Yvettes, and the Max-Planck-Institute for Physics in Munich.  He received his Ph.D. in mathematical physics from the University of Munich, held a postdoctoral fellowship at the ETH Zurich, and received his Habilitation in mathematical physics from the Free University in Berlin.  After his Habilitation he became the C4 Chair for Statistical Mechanics at the University of Leipzig, and in 1997 he joined Microsoft Research to co-found the Theory Group.   He was a manager of the Theory group until 2008, when he co-founded Microsoft Research New England.

Christian Borgs is well known for his work on the mathematical theory of first-order phase transitions and finite-size effects, for which he won the 1993 Karl-Scheel Prize of the German Physical Society.  Since joining Microsoft, Christian Borgs has become one of the world leaders in the study in phase transitions in combinatorial optimization, and more generally, the use of methods from statistical physics and probability theory in problems of interest to computer science and technology.  He is one of the top researchers in the modeling and analysis of self-organized networks (such as the Internet, the World Wide Web and social networks), as well as the analysis of processes and algorithms on networks.

His most recent research includes game theoretic models of online social networks, the development of pricing algorithms to incentivize energy conservation in cloud computing, the analysis of local graph algorithms, and the development of methods to reconstruct gene regulatory networks in order to find potential drug targets for cancer treatment.  On the more mathematical side, he has been one of the founders of the area of convergent graphs sequences, a field which characterizes the properties of sequences of growing networks and studies the properties of their limiting structures.

Christian Borgs has authored about 120 research papers and is named as an inventor on a little over 30 patents.  Among the honors he has received are a scholarship from the German National Merit Foundation, the 1993 Karl-Scheel Prize of the German Physical Society, and the Heisenberg Fellowship of the German Research Council.  He has been invited by the Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) to give a lecture series on “Statistical Physics Expansion Methods in Combinatorics and Computer Sciences.” He has been a long-term visitor at PrincetonHarvard, and UCLA, and has twice been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.  Among the boards and councils on which he has served or is still serving are the Council of the University of Leipzig, the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Statistical Physics, the SIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics, the Journal of Statistical Mechanics, the Annales de l’Institut Henri Poincaré D , the Board of Trustees of the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM), and the governing board of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications.  He is a fellow of the American Mathematical Society, and the Association of the Advancement of Science.

See a full list of publications here.


Virtual Algorithms Center (VIRAL)

Established: December 27, 2013

MSR has a strong group of scientists working on algorithm design, analysis, and experimental evaluation, as well as researchers in related areas (e.g., coding theory), but no formal algorithms group. The Virtual Algorithms Center (VIRAL) brings these individuals together. The goals of the center is to enhance collaboration between algorithms researchers and the rest of MSR, provide internal consulting, and give an external view of the algorithms research at MSR.

Multiworld Testing

Established: November 1, 2013

Exponentially better than A/B testing. Multiworld Testing (MWT) is the capability to test and optimize over K policies (context-based decision rules) using an amount of data and computation that scales logarithmically in K, without necessarily knowing these policies before or during data collection. MWT can answer exponentially more detailed questions compared to traditional A/B testing. The underlying machine learning methodology draws on research on "contextual bandits" and "counterfactual evaluation".…













Counting Graph Homomorphisms
Christian Borgs, Jennifer Chayes, Laszlo Lovasz, Vera T. Sos, Katalin Vesztergombi, in Topics in Discrete Mathematics (eds. M. Klazar, J. Kratochvil, M. Loebl, J. Matousek, R. Thomas, P. Valtr), Springer, February 1, 2006, View abstract, Download PDF

















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FestSchrift Session 4: More Microsoft Research


March 9, 2012


Hsiao-Wuen Hon, P. Anandan, Jennifer Chayes, Christian Borgs, and Gordon Bell


MSR India, MSR New England, Deputy Managing Director