Microsoft announces New York City research lab
May 3, 2012 // 11:46 a.m.
Microsoft has announced the founding of its thirteenth research lab, Microsoft Research New York City, which will be led by Microsoft Research New England founder Jennifer Chayes.
Joining the company's existing twelve research labs spread across four continents, Microsoft is quiet on the details of precisely what work is going to be carried out at the facility. 'The addition of Microsoft Research New York City reflects the company’s long-term investment in basic research,' claimed chief research officer Rick Rashid of the lab. 'In concert with Microsoft’s product groups, Microsoft Research guides and influences the company’s pursuit of applying transformative technologies and new technology trends to its products and services.'
The new lab will be based in Manhattan, Chayes has confirmed. 'The Microsoft Research New York City lab reflects an opportunity for Microsoft Research researchers and developers worldwide to interact deeply with the vibrant academic and tech communities in the New York metropolitan area, as well as an opportunity to attract great new talent to Microsoft,' she claimed of the opening.
The initial research team will be fifteen-strong, including three founding members described as leaders in 'fields of vital importance to Microsoft research.' These founders are: David Pennock, a computer science-focused economist who has previously served as chair of the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Electronic Commerce; Duncan Watts, former sociology professor at Columbia University and expert on computational and experimental social science; and John Langford, the programme co-chair for the 2012 International Conference on Machine Learning and specialist in scalable interactive machine learning.
Interestingly, the three founding researchers have something in common beyond their new jobs: they all previously worked together at Yahoo! Research, and have been poached by Microsoft to fill the new research roles at Lab 13.
'It's an incredible opportunity,' claimed Pennock of his new job. 'We 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.'
From the company's list of leading researchers, it's possible to posit a direction for the new lab's research: machine learning, electronic commerce and social sciences all collide in the area of mobile devices, suggesting that the bulk of Microsoft's focus will be on technology for improving the lot of its Windows Phone platform.
With Windows Phone currently languishing at 2 per cent of the global market, it's research that can't come fast enough for the company.