Portrait of Rico Malvar

Rico Malvar

Chief Scientist and Distinguished Engineer


Henrique (Rico) Malvar is a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer and the Chief Scientist for Microsoft Research. In that role he oversees cross-lab collaborative projects. He also manages the MSR NExT Enable group, which aims to help empower people living with disabilities. Previously, Rico was the Managing Director of Microsoft Research Redmond, and before that he was a Principal Researcher in and founder and manager of the Communications, Collaboration, and Signal Processing group at Microsoft Research.

Before coming to Microsoft in 1997, Rico was Vice President of Research and Advanced Technology at PictureTel (later acquired by Polycom). Prior to that, he headed the Digital Signal Processing research group at Universidade de Brasília, Brazil.  He received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT, under the advice of Prof. David Staelin, in 1986, a M.Sc. in electrical engineering from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (COPPE-UFRJ) in 1979, under Prof. Luiz P. Calôba, and a B.S. in electrical engineering from the Universidade de Brasília in 1977, working with Prof. Carlos Lisboa. He is the inventor or co-inventor of 119 issued U.S. patents and over 160 technical articles in journals, conferences, technical reports, and standards contributions.

Rico is a “carioca”, which means he was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Hands-Free Keyboard

Established: March 24, 2015

The Hands-Free keyboard is a project to enable people who are unable to speak or use a physical keyboard to communicate using only their eyes. Our initial prototypes are based around an on screen qwerty keyboard very similar to the 'taptip' keyboard built into Windows 8 which has been extended to response to eye gaze input from a sensor bar like the Tobii EyeX. Our goal is to improve communication speed by 25% compared to experienced…

Eye Controlled Wheelchair

Established: December 15, 2014

We envision using Eye Gaze technology to bring independent mobility to people living with disabilities who are unable to use a joystick. This project was initiated during the Summer 2014 Hackathon.  During the Hackathon, Steve Gleason came to campus and challenged us with his vision of 'until there is a cure for ALS, technology can be the cure'.  He asked us to think on how we could improve three aspects of his…

RLGR Entropy Coder

Established: October 31, 2000

We have developed an efficient entropy coder for integer value data. We refer to this compression algorithm as a Run-Length Golomb-Rice (RLGR) coder. The RLGR coder is very simple to implement, and uses backward adaptation of just a few parameters, based on previously-encoded symbols. That way, the RLGR encoder can quickly adapt to the statistics of the symbol source without any overhead of transmitting parameters associated with an estimated probability distribution function for the source…


Established: September 30, 1999

The still image compression format now known as JPEG XR has its roots at Microsoft Research. It started as the Progressive Transform Codec (PTC), which we designed back in 1999 as an alternative to JPEG 2000. The goal for PTC was to achieve a compression performance similar to that of JPEG 2000, but with a much lower (by ~ 3x) computational complexity, less than 2x that of the original low-complexity JPEG format. PTC was also designed with…































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Q and A – Session 1


February 13, 2015


Jennifer Chayes, P. Anandan, Rico Malvar, Sriram Rajamani, Christopher Bishop, Victor Bahl, Raj Reddy, Ed Lazowska, and Chandu Thekkath


Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Washington


JPEG XR HttpModule for IIS

July 2013

The JPEG XR HttpModule for IIS enables websites to transparently take advantage of the JPEG XR image format by automatically redirecting requests for JPEG and PNG images to a JPEG XR version (if one exists). This IIS module is currently deployed on the research.microsoft.com website where the use of JPEG XR can reduce the size…

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Microsoft Audio Watermarking Tool

August 2005

This tool is based upon the publication: D. Kirovski and H.S. Malvar. Spread Spectrum Watermarking of Audio Signals. IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, Vol.51, (no.4), pp.1020–33, 2003. As mentioned in the publication, it displays solid robustness against traditional signal processing, including arbitrary limited pitch bending and time-scaling. However, targetted procedures such as watermark estimation or…

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Rico’s technical contributions include the development of lapped transforms (used in multimedia formats, Internet telephony, DSL modems, and other applications), and Malvar wavelets (a class of local trigonometric transforms, also known as Malvar-Wilson bases or Malvar-Coifman-Meyer wavelets). At Microsoft his contributions include co-development of the Windows Media Audio digital audio format, image and data compression technologies for Microsoft Windows, Office, Hyper-V, Tablet PC, Bing Maps, and Xbox, rights management technologies for Windows Media, entropy coders for bitmap compression in Windows RDP/RemoteFX, new video transformation and quantization and new color transformation techniques that were adopted into H.264 (the most used video format for digital TV and Internet video, e.g. YouTube, Netflix, etc.), and audio signal processing technologies for Windows, Lync, RoundTable, Xbox, and Kinect. Rico’s PTC image codec was the basis for the development of the new Microsoft HD Photo format for digital pictures, which has been adopted by the ISO and the ITU-T as the new JPEG XR standard. His technical interests include signal enhancement and compression, especially of audio and images, multirate signal processing, signal decompositions (filter banks, transforms, wavelets), fast algorithms, coding theory, and electronic circuits and hardware.

Rico is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, and a member of the Brazilian National Academy of Engineering and the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. He has been an Affiliate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington since 1998, where he now chairs the UWEE Advisory Board. He is also a member of the industry advisory boards at MIT (LIDS). He was a member of the advisory board for the IEEE Future Directions Committee, a past member of the advisory boards for Ming-Hsieh EE Department at USC and the School of Computer and Communication Sciences  (IC) at EPFL, and a past member of the advisory committee for the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate at the National Science Foundation. He is a member of the editorial board of the journals Applied and Computational Harmonic Analysis (ACHA), Foundations and Trends in Signal ProcessingAPSIPA Transactions on Signal and Information Processing, and the IEEE Signal Processing Magazine; he was a past member of the Signal Processing Theory and Method Technical Committee of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, and a past associate editor of the journal IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing.