Bringing Theories to Life: Computer Science at Microsoft Research


May 24, 2012


The future of computer science lies neither in stability or change, but in the interplay between them. Both in terms of theory and in the software that brings the theories to life, there is a need for stability, so that ideas and techniques can become well known and part of the scientific ecosystem. But at the same time, researchers are always striving to push the boundaries and bring about change that reflects the concerns of our time, such as handling big data, ensuring privacy and security, and facilitating mobile computing, as well as unifying previously neglected groups through computer vision, natural user interfaces, and machine translation.

In this talk, we explore the advances made by Microsoft Research in the development of new theories, new tools, and new communities in computer science.


Tony Hey

As corporate vice president of the External Research Division of Microsoft Research, Tony Hey is responsible for the worldwide external research and technical computing strategy across Microsoft Corporation. He leads the company’s efforts to build long-term public-private partnerships with global scientific and engineering communities, spanning broad reach and in-depth engagements with academic and research institutions, related government agencies and industry partners. His responsibilities also include working with internal Microsoft groups to build future technologies and products that will transform computing for scientific and engineering research. Hey also oversees Microsoft Research’s efforts to enhance the quality of higher education around the world.

Before joining Microsoft, Hey served as director of the U.K.’s e-Science Initiative, managing the government’s efforts to provide scientists and researchers with access to key computing technologies. Before leading this initiative, Hey worked as Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science; and, Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Southampton, where he helped build the department into one of the most respected computer science research institutions in England.

His research interests focus on parallel programming for parallel systems built from mainstream commodity components. With Jack Dongarra, Rolf Hempel and David Walker, he wrote the first draft of a specification for a new message-passing standard called MPI. This initiated the process that led to the successful MPI standard of today.

Hey is a fellow of the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering. He also has served on several national committees in the U.K., including committees of the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry and the Office of Science and Technology. He was a member of the British Computer Society, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and the Institute of Physics.

Tony Hey also has a passionate interest in communicating the excitement of science to young people. He has written ‘popular’ books on quantum mechanics and on relativity.

Hey is a graduate of Oxford University, with both an undergraduate degree in physics and a doctorate in theoretical physics.


  • Portrait of Tony Hey

    Tony Hey