Tag Archives: research

Microsoft Research Montreal welcomes Fernando Diaz, Principal Researcher and lead of the new Montreal FATE Research Group – Microsoft Research

Fernando Diaz – Principal Research Manager

Microsoft Research Montreal further bolsters its research force this month, welcoming Fernando Diaz to the Montreal FATE (Fairness, Accountability, Transparency and Ethics in AI) research group as Principal Researcher.

Diaz, whose research area is the design of information access systems, including search engines, music recommendation services and crisis response platforms is particularly interested in understanding and addressing the societal implications of artificial intelligence more generally. Immediately previous to joining Microsoft Research Montreal, he was the Director of Research at Spotify Research in New York, New York. He was previously a senior researcher with Microsoft Research New York City where he founded the FATE Research Group alongside Kate Crawford and Hanna Wallach. Joining Microsoft Research reunites him with many former FATE collaborators.

The world is beginning to harness the power of AI, machine learning, and data science across many aspects of society. Indeed, these research areas form core components of many Microsoft systems and products.

But these techniques also raise complex ethical and social questions: How can we best use AI to assist users and offer people enhanced insights, while avoiding exposing them to different types of discrimination in health, housing, law enforcement, and employment? How can we balance the need for efficiency and exploration with fairness and sensitivity to users? As we move toward relying on intelligent agents in our everyday lives, how do we ensure that individuals and communities can trust these systems?

The FATE research group at Microsoft studies the complex social implications of AI, machine learning, data science, large-scale experimentation and increasing automation. The aim is to develop computational techniques that are both innovative and ethical while drawing on the deeper context surrounding these issues from sociology, history and science and technology studies. A relatively new group, FATE currently is working on collaborative research projects that address the need for transparency, accountability, and fairness in AI and ML systems. Fate publishes across a variety of disciplines, including machine learning, information retrieval, systems, sociology, political science and science and technology studies.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Fernando back to Microsoft Research. Fernando is an immensely talented leader in information retrieval, machine learning and the new field of FATE,” said Jennifer Chayes, Technical Fellow and Managing Director of Microsoft Research New England, New York City and Montreal labs. “I’m also excited and proud to announce the creation of the Montreal FATE research group. This group will work on how to increase the fairness of data sets and AI algorithms, transparency and interpretability of the output of AI algorithms, accountability of this output in fairness and transparency, and ethical questions on AI and society.”

In addition to an impressive research and academic portfolio (including a PhD and Masters in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst), Diaz brings a passion for disseminating his work outside of the research community. He works closely with product teams at Microsoft, focusing on relevant and impactful research. He also has taught graduate level courses at New York University, introducing students to the realities of production systems.

Very attractive to Diaz about Microsoft Research was the promise of considerable freedom to work on a wide range of interesting problems. While his research will continue to include fundamental work on information access algorithms, Diaz will also focus on building a multidisciplinary group studying the societal implications of artificial intelligence.

“Increasingly, we are noticing the profound societal implications of integrating artificial intelligence into everyday life. MSR Montreal—and Montreal as a city—has amongst the strongest researchers in artificial intelligence, making it the ideal location to study and understand its societal implications from a technical perspective. At the same time, this research requires a broad, multidisciplinary strength found both in Canada and at Microsoft Research, more generally,” said Diaz.

“Work in FATE is crucial for ensuring that artificial intelligence becomes an essential and positive part of our lives, and Fernando is a leader both in FATE and in connecting FATE to other disciplines,” added Geoff Gordon, Microsoft Research Montreal Lab Director. “I am thrilled about the opportunity to work closely with him on a daily basis.”

Yoshua Bengio, Scientific Director at the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) also expressed his encouragement. “Ethical and social issues associated with AI are really important and that is why MILA has put it in its mission to contribute to AI for the benefits of all and to collective discussions about the use of AI,” he said. “There already are strong collaborations between MILA and Microsoft Research Montreal and I’m delighted at the perspective of expanding this collaboration with the new FATE group which Fernando Diaz will head. This is clearly a great move for Microsoft as well as for the Montreal AI community.”

Indeed the Microsoft Research FATE team will continue to expand with impressive post-doctoral researcher talent joining the group across the summer including Canadian Luke Stark, returning to his native Canada following fellowship tours at the Department of Sociology at Dartmouth College and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

The French version of this blog post can be found on the Microsoft News Center Canada.

Microsoft Research Dissertation Grants: Broadening the PhD pipeline to increase innovation – Microsoft Research

Research shows that diverse teams are more productive teams. Diversity, particularly in the area of computing research, means including unique perspectives that otherwise might not have a voice, fueling innovation. These are some of the key reasons that Microsoft is committed to diversity. One aspect of demonstrating that commitment is that, for the second year in a row, we are awarding Microsoft Research Dissertation Grants to talented PhD candidates from groups that are under-represented in computing. The goal of these awards (up to $25,000 each) are to widen the narrow pipeline of women, African-Americans, American Indians, Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and those with disabilities who earn PhDs in computer science or related fields. These awards are given to students in the “last mile” of their PhDs, where a little money can push them over the finish line by helping them to complete their dissertation research.

I am pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Microsoft Research Dissertation Grants:

  • Cynthia Bennett, University of Washington, “Toward Disability-Informed Human-Centered Design”
  • Eric Corbett, Georgia Institute of Technology, “Trust, Technology and Community Engagement”
  • Ryan M. Corey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “Array Signal Processing for Augmented Listening”
  • Maria De-Arteaga, Carnegie Mellon University, “Quantifying and Mitigating Risks of Algorithmic Decision Support”
  • Jane E, Stanford University, “Artistic Vision: Providing Context for Capture-Time Decisions”
  • Sahar Hashemgeloogerdi, University of Rochester, “Computationally Efficient Modeling and Audio Enhancement Algorithms for Reverberant Acoustic Systems Using Orthonormal Basis Functions”
  • Francesco Pittaluga, University of Florida, “Privacy Preserving Computational Cameras”
  • Ramya Ramakrishnan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Human-Guided Reinforcement Learning in Real-World Environments”
  • João Sedoc, University of Pennsylvania, “Hierarchical Approaches to Improve the Flow, Style, and Coherence of Conversational Agents”
  • Mina Tahmasbi Arashloo, Princeton University, “Programmable Network Monitoring and Control”
  • Sarah Tan, Cornell University, “Methods in Interpretability and Causal Inference for Better Understanding of Machine Learning Models”

From the almost 200 research projects submitted, these PhD candidates were selected as grant recipients based on review by scientists at Microsoft Research of the quality of the students’ dissertation research, the potential impact of their research, and the uses toward which they would put the grant monies awarded.

For example, Ryan Corey’s grant proposal included funds for purchasing high-quality recording equipment to capture and separate sources of audio to prototype products that augment people’s ability to hear, and also to fund outreach efforts for him to go into community schools to demonstrate his research. Ramya Ramakrishnan will use her grant to hire undergraduate women as research assistants, so she can further amplify the mentoring she receives from this award. Cynthia Bennett, who has a visual disability, is using her grant to increase the ability of people with disabilities to design products that other people with disabilities will use.

There were interesting themes running across this year’s set of awardees, including the ethics and sociological impact of their research. Eric Corbett’s research on using technology to increase public trust and Maria De-Arteaga’s research on mitigating risks of algorithmic decision support in the criminal justice system are two such examples.

In addition to monetary grants, each award comes with an all-expense paid trip to a two-day Microsoft Research workshop in Redmond, Washington, in the autumn of 2018. There, the awardees will present their research, meet with researchers in their field, and receive career coaching.

For a complete list of awardees and their projects, visit our Dissertation Grant Program page.

AARP, startups partner to study digital healthcare technology

Research from AARP has found 90% of adults aged 50 and older use technology to stay connected. Based on that research, AARP has partnered with two Boston-based digital health startups that have combined technology and healthcare with a friendly face to provide a health-focused robotic companion in the homes of individuals selected to participate in a pilot study of the product.

Pillo, a HIPAA-compliant digital healthcare companion robot, will be placed in the homes of six to 10 pilot study participants later this month for about four weeks to determine how the robot can improve disease management for individuals who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes.

Pillo, which was created by Pillo Health and given a voice through Orbita’s voice experience management platform, is a voice- and video-enabled intelligent assistant that’s able to dispense medication, connect to caregivers, issue voice reminders and perform daily tasks, like reporting the weather and playing radio stations. Emanuele Musini, CEO and co-owner of Pillo Health, said the robot features a 7-inch touchscreen and facial recognition technology. Once Pillo recognizes the patient, it is able to dispense medication that has been preloaded into the robot.

In-home digital healthcare technology is “the future of healthcare,” said Brian Jack, chief of family medicine at Boston Medical Center. Jack said, over the next several years, he expects there will be gradual to rapid movement of care from the office and hospital settings to the home. And he said he believes in-home digital healthcare technology is an opportunity to “provide better care at a lower cost.”

Investing in digital health startups

AARP chose to partner with Orbita and Pillo Health in May as a result of the PULSE@MassChallenge event — a digital health innovation hub established by the city of Boston, MassChallenge and other entities to support digital health startups. AARP launched its $40 million Innovation Fund in 2015 that allows the organization to invest in companies working in three major health-related areas: aging at home, convenience and access to healthcare, and preventive health.

We want to help bring solutions to market that make life better for people 50-plus and increase their health security, financial well-being and personal fulfillment.
Andy Millersenior vice president of innovation and product development, AARP

AARP’s purpose is to “empower” people to choose how they live as they age, said Andy Miller, senior vice president of innovation and product development at AARP, based in Washington, D.C.

“Innovation is a major way to make this happen,” Miller said. “We want to help bring solutions to market that make life better for people 50-plus and increase their health security, financial well-being and personal fulfillment.”

Technology makes it easier for providers to monitor and diagnose patients at critical moments and to provide ongoing care without having the patient always in the room with them, Miller said.

Bringing robotics into the home

Orbita CEO Bill Rogers said Pillo will empower older adults by reminding them to take their medication on time and providing education about diabetes. Pillo can also communicate information to caregivers, alerting them if a person’s medication has not been taken or if some other issue occurs. 

Rogers said the challenge with mobile applications and web portals is the user needs to learn that experience to be able to collaborate with their doctors and physicians. Voice technology “changes the whole game of engagement,” he explained.  

“It allows people to be able to engage and interact with their voice, which is the natural way people engage,” Rogers said.

Pillo’s Musini said the idea to create Pillo stemmed from his own personal experience with his father, who had serious health issues and would forget to take his medication and follow the doctor’s orders.

“We started it with a mission to empower older adults living at home with chronic conditions,” Musini said. “The approach I had was, ‘What if there was someone with my father at that time?’ There was something that could be with him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and was alert.”

Providing aftercare in-home help

Jack, who leads Project Re-Engineered Discharge (RED), a Boston University Medical Center research group responsible for developing and testing strategies to improve the hospital discharge process, helped design an animated health information technology system named Louise that provides aftercare information to people recently discharged from the hospital.

Project RED studied the system and found twice as many people who used Louise preferred to receive their discharge information from the system, rather than a doctor or nurse for several reasons, including Louise’s availability and accessibility. After returning home, Jack said patients and their caregivers are able to sign onto the Louise technology and learn about medication, proper care and follow-up appointments, as well as easily connect with their clinicians.

“When patients leave the hospital, in our studies, when we ask them what they are most worried about, they say that, ‘I’m all by myself,'” Jack said. “When there are at-home technologies, where the patient can access the technology, the technology can access the clinicians, and the patients are super happy. Plus, they can get their problem fixed in a timely way, rather than waiting for an appointment.”

Identifying best practices for digital healthcare technology

Jack said thorough study of in-home digital healthcare technology is critical before sending it out into the public — a sentiment echoed by John Torous, co-director of the digital psychiatry division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Torous said it’s up to researchers and groups like AARP to find best practices for in-home digital healthcare technology to avoid potentially harmful consequences.

“I think together we can learn how to use this technology in a productive, ethical and meaningful way, and it will have a bigger role in healthcare,” Torous said.

Miller said the goal of AARP’s collaborations with companies like Pillo Health and Orbita is to “gain useful and impactful information that can be used to continue to improve the customer experience and help make these products as beneficial as possible.”

Along with Orbita and Pillo, AARP has partnered with digital health startups like Folia Health and One Medical Group.

“When considering which startups to work with, we are looking for mission-aligned companies who have transformational solutions and those we can work with to co-create ageless design solutions that could have meaningful impact in the lives of the 50-plus consumer,” Miller said.

Mobile Sharing & Companion Experiences for Microsoft Teams Meetings – Microsoft Garage

Research into Computer-Supported Collaborative Work has explored problems of disengagement in video meetings and device conflict since the 1990s, but good solutions that could work at scale have been elusive. Microsoft Research Cambridge UK had been working on these issues when the 2015 Hackathon arose as an opportunity to highlight for the rest of the company that just a few simple and dynamic device combinations might provide users with the means to solve the issues themselves.

While we had explored some research prototypes in late 2014 and early 2015, for the Hackathon we decided to use a vision video with the goal of getting the attention of the Skype product group, because we knew that the idea would have the most impact as an infrastructural feature of an existing product rather than as a new stand-alone product. We called the video “Skype Unleashed” to connote breaking free of the traditional one person per endpoint model.

team in a conference room
Turning the hackathon video into a working proof-of-concept

When we won the Business category, our prize was meeting with the sponsor of the Business category, then-COO Kevin Turner.  We scrambled to build a proof-of-concept prototype, which at first we jokingly referred to as “Skype Skwid”, a deliberate misspelling of “squid”, because it was like a body that had lots of tentacles that could reach out to different other things. However, we realized that we needed an official project name, so we became “Project Wellington”. This was a related inside joke, because the largest squid in the world is the Colossal Squid, and the largest specimen in the world is in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa… in Wellington, New Zealand.

So as Project Wellington we went to meet Kevin Turner, who also invited Gurdeep Singh Pall, then-CVP for Skype, in November 2015. Both immediately saw the relevance of the concepts and Gurdeep connected us to Brian MacDonald’s incubation project that would become Microsoft Teams.

Brian also understood right away that Companion Experiences could be an innovative market differentiator for meetings and a mobile driver for Teams. He championed the integration of our small Cambridge group with his Modern Meetings group as a loose v-team. The Modern Meetings group was exceptionally welcoming, graciously showing us the ropes of productization and taking on the formidable challenge of helping us socialize the need for changes at all levels of the product, from media stack, middle tier, and all clients. We, in turn, learned a lot about the cadence of production, scoping, aligning with the needs of multiple roadmaps, and the multitude of issues required to turn feature ideas into releasable code.Through 2016 and 2017 we worked on design iterations, usability testing, and middle tier and client code. We were thrilled when first glimpses of roving camera and proximity joining were shown at Build 2017, and then announced as officially rolling out at Enterprise Connect 2018.

a group of people in a conference room
The combined research and product team

We are very excited to see these features released. We are also excited to close the research loop by evaluating our thesis that dynamic device combinations will improve hybrid collaboration in video meetings, and doing research ‘in the wild’ at a scale unimaginable by most research projects. Microsoft is one of only a handful of institutions that can make research possible that will improve the productivity of millions of people daily. So as well as releasing product features, we are exceptionally proud of the model of collaboration itself. And, indeed, we are continuing to collaborate with Microsoft Teams even after these features are released, as we now have a tremendous relationship with a product group that understands how we work and values our help.

To come full circle, then, it was Satya Nadella’s emphasis on the Hackathon as a valuable use of company time, and The Garage’s organization of the event itself, that allowed ideas well outside a product group to be catapulted to the attention of people who could see its value and then provide a path to making it happen.

If you would like to find out more about this project, connect with Sean Rintel on LinkedIn or follow @seanrintel on twitter.

Microsoft announces expansion of Montreal research lab, new director

Geoffrey Gordon has been named Microsoft Research Montreal’s new research director. Photo by Nadia Zheng.

Microsoft plans to significantly expand its Montreal research lab and has hired a renowned artificial intelligence expert, Geoffrey Gordon, to be the lab’s new research director.

The company said Wednesday that it hopes to double the size of Microsoft Research Montreal within the next two years, to as many as 75 technical experts. The expansion comes as Montreal is becoming a worldwide hub for groundbreaking work in the fields of machine learning and deep learning, which are core to AI advances.

“Montreal is really one of the most exciting places in AI right now,” said Jennifer Chayes, a technical fellow and managing director of Microsoft Research New England, New York City and Montreal.

Chayes said Gordon, currently a professor of machine learning at Carnegie Mellon University, was a natural choice for the job in part because he’s interested in both the foundational AI research that addresses fundamental AI challenges and the applied work that can quickly find its way into mainstream use.

“We want to be doing the research that will be infusing AI into Microsoft products today and tomorrow, and Geoff’s research really spans that,” she said. “He’ll be able to help us improve our products and he’ll also be laying the foundation for AI to do much more than is possible today.”

Jennifer Chayes, technical fellow and managing director of Microsoft Research New England, New York City and Montreal.

Chayes also noted that Gordon’s broad and deep AI expertise will be a major asset to the lab. She noted that Gordon is an expert in reinforcement learning, in which systems learn through trial and error, and he’s also done groundbreaking work in areas such as robotics and natural language processing. The ability to combine all those areas of expertise will be key to developing sophisticated AI systems in the future.

“Given that we want a very broad AI lab, Geoff is the ideal person to lead it, and to create the fundamental research that underlies the next generation of AI,” she said.

Gordon said he’s especially interested in creating AI systems that have what we think of as long-term thinking: the ability to come up with a coherent plan to solve a problem or to take multiple actions based on clues it gets along the way. That’s the kind of thing that comes easily to people but is currently rudimentary in most AI systems.

Over the last few years, AI systems have gotten very good at individual tasks, like recognizing images or comprehending words in a conversation, thanks to a combination of improved data, computing power and algorithms.

Now, researchers including Gordon are working on ways to combine those skills to create systems that can augment people’s work in more sophisticated ways. For example, a system that could accurately read clues based on what it is seeing and hearing to anticipate when it would be useful to step in and help would be much more valuable than one that requires a person to ask for help with a specific task when needed.

“We have, in some cases, superhuman performance in recognizing patterns, and in very restricted domains we get superhuman performance in planning ahead,” he said. “But it’s surprisingly difficult to put those two things together – to get an AI to learn a concept and then build a chain of reasoning based on that learned concept.”

Microsoft began developing its research presence in Montreal a year ago, when it acquired the deep learning startup Maluuba.

The Microsoft Research team in Montreal has already made groundbreaking advances in AI disciplines that are key to the type of systems Gordon imagines. That includes advances in machine reading comprehension – the ability to read a document and provide information about it in a plainspoken way – and in methods for teaching AI systems to do complex tasks, such as by dividing large tasks into small tasks that multiple AI agents can handle.

Gordon said he was drawn to the new position both because of the work the team in Montreal is doing and the opportunity to collaborate with the broader Montreal AI community.

“Research has always been about standing on the shoulders of giants, to borrow a phrase from a giant – and it’s even more so in the current age,” Gordon said.

The city has become a hotbed for AI advances thanks to a strong academic and research presence, as well as government funding commitments.

Yoshua Bengio, an AI pioneer who heads the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, said Gordon’s presence and the Microsoft lab’s expansion will help continue to build the momentum that the Montreal AI community has seen in recent years. He noted that Gordon’s area of focus, on AI systems that can learn to do more complex tasks, is complementary to the work he and others in the community also are pursuing.

“It’s one of the strengths of Montreal,” said Bengio, who is also an AI advisor to Microsoft.

Joelle Pineau, an associate professor of computer science at McGill University and director of Montreal’s Facebook AI Research Lab, said she was thrilled to hear Gordon would be joining the Montreal AI ecosystem.

“There is no doubt that the Montreal AI community will be deeply enriched by his presence here,” Pineau said.

Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development, said he was looking forward to seeing the work that Gordon and Microsoft Research Montreal will produce.

“I am pleased that our government’s investment in innovation and skills continues to position Canada as a world-leading destination for AI companies and impressive researchers like Geoff Gordon,” he said.

The expansion of the Montreal lab is part of Microsoft’s long history of investing in international research hubs, including labs in the U.S., Asia, India and Cambridge, United Kingdom. Chayes said the company’s international presence has helped it attract and retain some of the world’s best researchers in AI and other fields, and it also has helped ensure that the company’s AI systems reflect a diversity of experiences and cultures.

For example, Chayes said the fact that Montreal is a bilingual city could help inform the company’s work in areas such as translation and speech recognition.

“It’s a culture where you go back and forth between two languages. That’s a very interesting environment in which to develop tools for natural language understanding,” she said.

The French version of this blog post can be found on the Microsoft News Center Canada.


Allison Linn is a senior writer at Microsoft. Follow her on Twitter.

CodeTalk: Rethinking accessibility for IDEs

By Suresh Parthasarathy, Senior Research Developer; Gopal Srinivasa, Senior Research Software Development Engineer

CodeTalk team members from left to right include: Priyan Vaithilingam, Suresh Parthasarathy, Venkatesh Potluri, Manohar Swaminathan and Gopal Srinivasa from Microsoft Research India.

Software programming productivity tools known as integrated development environments, or IDEs, are supposed to be a game changer for Venkatesh Potluri, a research fellow in Microsoft’s India research lab. Potluri is a computer scientist who regularly needs to write code efficiently and accurately for his research in human computer interaction and accessibility. Instead, IDEs are one more source of frustration for Potluri: he is blind and unable to see the features that make IDEs a boon to the productivity of sighted programmers, such as squiggly red lines that automatically appear beneath potential code errors.

Potluri uses a screen reader to hear the code that he types. He scrolls back and forth through the computer screen to maintain context. But using a screen reader with an IDE is incomplete since much of the information from these systems is conveyed visually. For example, code is syntax highlighted in bright colors, errors are automatically highlighted with squiggles and the debugger uses several windows to provide the full context of a running program. Performance analysis tools use charts and graphs to highlight bottlenecks and architecture analysis tools use graphical models to show code structure.

“IDEs provide a lot of relevant information while writing code; a lot of this information — such as the current state of the program being debugged, real-time error alerts and code refactoring suggestions, are not announced to screen reader users,” Potluri said. “As a developer using a screen reader, the augmentation IDEs provide is not of high value to me.”

Soon after Venkatesh joined Microsoft Research India in early 2017, he and his colleagues Priyan Vaithilingam and Saqib Shaikh launched Project CodeTalk to increase the value of IDE’s for the community of blind and low vision users. According to a recent survey posted on the developer community website Stack Overflow, users who self-identify as blind or low vision make up one percent of the programmer population, which is higher than the 0.4 percent of people in the general population. Team members realized that while a lot of work had gone into making IDEs more accessible, the efforts had fallen short of meeting the needs of blind and low vision developers.

As a first step, the team explored their personal experiences with IDE technologies. Potluri, for example, detailed frustrations such as trying to fix one last bug before the end of a long day, listening carefully to the screen reader and concentrating hard to retain in his mind the structures of the code file only to have the screen reader go silent a few seconds after program execution. Uncertain if the program completed successfully or terminated with an exception, he has to take extra steps to recheck the program that keep him at work late into the night.

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The CodeTalk team also drew insights from a survey of blind and low vision developers that was led by senior researcher Manohar Swaminathan. The effort generated ideas for the development of an extension that improves the experience of the blind and low vision community of developers who use Microsoft’s Visual Studio, a popular IDE that supports multiple programming languages and is customizable. The CodeTalk extension and source code are now available on GitHub.

Highlights of the extension include the ability to quickly access code constructs and functions that lead to faster coding, learn the context of where the cursor is in the code, navigate through chunks of code with simple keystrokes and hear auditory cues when the code has errors and while debugging. The extension also introduces a novel concept of Talkpoints, which can be thought of as audio-based breakpoints.

Together, these features make debugging and syntax checking—two critical features of IDEs—far more accessible to blind and low vision developers, according to a study the CodeTalk team conducted with blind and low vision programmers. Real-time error information and talk points were particularly appreciated as significant productivity boosters. The team also began using the extension for their own development, and discovered that the features were useful for sighted users, as well.

CodeTalk is one step in a long journey of exploring ways to make IDEs more accessible. Research is ongoing to define and meet the needs of blind and low vision developers. The source code is available on GitHub and contributors are invited. The Visual Studio extension is available for download.

You can read more about this story on Microsoft’s Research Blog.

CodeTalk team members include Suresh Parthasarathy, Gopal Srinivasa, Priyan Vaithilingam, Manohar Swaminathan and Venkatesh Potluri from Microsoft Research India and Saqib Shaikh from Microsoft Research Cambridge.