Portrait of Ming Zhou

Ming Zhou

Assistant Managing Director


Dr. Ming Zhou is an Assistant Managing Director of Microsoft Research Asia and research manager of the Natural Language Computing Group.  He is the president (election manifesto) of Association of Computational Linguistics (ACL). He is the chair of the Chinese Computer Federation’s (CCF) Chinese Information Technology Committee and an executive member of the Chinese Information Processing Society (CIPS). With his relentless efforts of decades, he made important contribution to the promotion and development of NLP, especially in China.

In 1989 he designed the CEMT-I machine translation system, the first experiment on Chinese-English machine translation obtaining the government’s science and technology advancement prize in Mainland China. In 1998, he designed the famous Chinese-Japanese machine translation software product J-Beijing in Japan which was later deployed in J-Server, a popular translation service in Japan that won the Makoto Nagao Award given by the Japan Machine Translation Association in 2008. He is the leader of the renowned AI gaming of Chinese Couplets/Poetry Generation and Riddles (http://duilian.msra.cn), MS Windows IME for Chinese and Japanese, and the English Assistance Search Engine, Engkoo, which won the Wall Street Journal’s 2010 Asian Innovation Readers’ Choice Award and was packaged into Bing in 2011 as Bing Dictionary (http://cn.bing.com/dict/), and Engkoo cloud IME which was packaged as Bing IME in 2012. In 2008, the system submitted by a joint team from MSR-NLP Group, his Group and NRC and SRI obtained the top ranking in NIST Chinese-English machine translation evaluation, and the system submitted from his group obtained the 2nd ranking in NIST English-Chinese machine translation evaluation. In recent years, his group made important breakthrough in Machine Reading Comprehension (SQuAD) tasks, as the first systems reaching human-parity on both metrics of exact matching and fuzzy matching. The NMT system out of the joint effort of his group, Machine Learning Group and MS Translator also reaches the human-parity on WMT 2018 evaluation task. His group made important contributions to MS Bing search engine with NLP technologies such as word breaker, sentiment analysis, speller, dependency parser, semantic parser and QnA. His group created Chinese-English, and Cantonese-Chinese-English machine translation engine for MS Translator and Skype Translator. Recently, his group worked closely with Microsoft product teams to create well-known chat-bot products in China (Xiaoice), Japan (Rinna) and the US (Tay) with total of 200 million users. He has presented and published over 180 papers at top conferences (including 65+ ACL papers) and NLP journals, and obtained 48 international patents. He received the Ability Award from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2014 and  Beijing Outstanding Worker Medal (May-1st Labor Medal) in 2018.

He has served as area chairs of ACL, EMNLP, COLING, IJCNLP, MT SUMMIT, AAAI, IJCAI during various periods in his career, and as PC chair or general chair of important conferences in Asian-Pacific such as AIRS and NLPCC. He was the associate editor of TALLIP, and an editorial board member of Computational Linguistics and Machine Translation.

He has collaborated with universities across the Asia-Pacific and various academy associations to advance NLP research and development. For instance, in 2003 he worked with the Harbin Institute of Technology to set up an annual NLP summer school which has trained over 2000 students since then. He is one of the main organizers of the NLPCC conference since 2011, which has become China’s flagship NLP conference. His group has hosted about 500 students for internships since 1999. As the director of the Microsoft-Harbin Institute of Technology Joint Lab on NLP and the Microsoft-Tsinghua Joint Lab on Networks and Media, and PhD advisors or adjunct professors at universities such as Harbin Institute of Technology, Tianjin University, Nankai University, Shandong University, Chongqing University, Dalian University of Technology, he contributed to increases in NLP research at these universities.

Dr. Zhou received his B.S. in computer engineering from Chongqing University in 1985, and his M.S. degree and Ph.D. in computer science from Harbin Institute of Technology in 1988 and 1991. He did post-doctoral work at Tsinghua University from 1991 to 1993, later became an associate professor there. From 1996-1999, during a sabbatical, he worked for Kodensha Ltd. Co. in Japan as the leader of the Chinese-Japanese machine translation project. He joined the natural language group at Microsoft Research China (now Microsoft Research Asia) in September 1999 as researcher. He became the manager of this group in 2001. His research interests include next generation search engines, statistical and neural machine translation, question-answering, chatbots, computer poetry, riddle resolving and generation, knowledge graph, commonsense graph, semantic parser, text mining, user modelling and recommendation system.

New: I co-authored three books recently:

Machine Translation, High Education Publisher, 2018 (机器翻译,高教出版社,2018, 简介
Intelligence Question-Answering, High Education Publisher, 2018 (智能问答,高教出版社,2018,简介
Introduction to AI, Science Publisher, 2018  (人工智能导论,科学出版社,2018,简介