New York, New England Labs Will Focus on Complementary Studies

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-05-04 Print this article Print

Microsoft Research New England has developed a reputation for being rich in interdisciplinary research, and it pursues work in social media, empirical economics and machine learning, in addition to theoretical computer science, cryptography and mathematics.

The New York City lab will investigate complementary research areas: computational and experimental social science, algorithmic economics and machine learning, along with information retrieval. The close collaboration of the two labs, and their interaction with the rest of Microsoft Research, is designed to extend state-of-the-art work in these key areas.

The new researchers will engage in large-scale machine learning, prediction and online market design. They also will develop new techniques in computational and online experimental social science. Their research will help shape the technology of the future, and they all expressed an eagerness to embrace their new roles.

€œIt€™s an incredible opportunity,€ Pennock said in a statement. €œWe get to start a new branch of Microsoft Research, which is the best place in the world to do research. It€™s a chance to work with some great people in the New England lab and throughout Microsoft Research and Microsoft. It€™s an incredible time for Microsoft, and we are looking forward to doing great research and having great product impact within the company.€ Pennock added that the new lab will be able to plug into the thriving New York tech ecosystem.

€œIn addition to growing our already-strong ties to the academic research community,€ he said, €œwe€™d like to play our part in the New York City tech scene, including the startup, venture capitalist and hack/make communities, plus the new Cornell-Technion campus, contributing what we can to Mayor Michael Bloomberg€™s vision of New York City as a tech hub.€

€œMy ambition for the New York City lab is that it will become a leading center, if not the leading center, for computational and experimental social science, leveraging the intellectual capital of the New York City academic community, the tremendous data assets of Microsoft and Microsoft€™s partners, and the rapidly growing local tech scene,€ said Watts, in a statement. €œThe scope of what we can do here is incredible, and the support we have received already from the Microsoft Research community is both gratifying and impressive.€

Langford relishes the opportunities afforded by Microsoft Research€™s position in the research community. €œMachine learning is shifting from an academic discipline to an industrial tool,€ he said. €œIn the process, many new research problems are being discovered, shifting the center of gravity of research to a place between industry and academia, exactly where Microsoft Research lies. The sheer scale of Microsoft also implies that successful research can be used many times across the company. It€™s always fun to have deployed systems to brag about, and the more, the merrier.€

In addition to Pennock, Watts and Langford, the group of founding members of the New York City lab includes Dan Goldstein and Siddharth Suri, experts in experimental and behavioral social science; Sharad Goel and Jake Hofman, experts in computational social science; and David Rothschild, an expert in economics and prediction markets.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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