All the stories begin with an old photo from 1998.
In November 1998, Microsoft Research Asia was officially established in Beijing. The people in the photo were the first founders. Today, the Institute has been through a full 20 years, with more than 200 researchers and more than 300 visiting scholars and interns.
At the 20th Anniversary Celebration, Hong Xiaowen, senior vice president of Microsoft, chairman of Microsoft Asia Pacific R&D Group, and dean of Microsoft Asia Research Institute, looked at this photo full of years and couldn’t help but sigh that the age in the photo is only in his early thirties. It is worthy of Fanghua.
In these few days, Tencent also celebrated its 20th birthday. Some friends lamented that, in contrast, the 20 years written by Tencent is a turbulent history of Internet business warfare; and the 20 years of Microsoft Research Asia is less successful, more of a technical person's poetry and distance.
“Whampoa Military Academy” title has been ten years
For a long time, Microsoft Research Asia has been regarded by the outside world as the “Whampoa Military Academy” of the computer industry. It has trained a group of top-notch technical talents and continues to transfuse blood for enterprises and academia.
Today, nearly 7,000 Microsoft Research Institutes around the world are active in the forefront of research innovation and industrial innovation. Among them, more than 200 residents have taught in top universities around the world, and more than 55 residents have been highly recognized by the international and Chinese academic circles, including the Chinese Thousand Talents Program, the Yangtze River Scholars and the National Outstanding Young Scientists Fund, and the Electrical Academician of the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEEE), Fellow of the American Computer Society (ACM), and Academician of the American Society of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). In the industry, more than 15 alumni are CEOs or CTOs in Internet companies, covering almost all of China's top Internet companies. More than 115 residents have been innovating in the entrepreneurial tide, and at least five of them are founders of the Unicorn Company.
As a corporate research institute, Microsoft Research Asia has won the title of being inferior to the world's top universities. However, the task of the school is to cultivate talents, while the enterprises prefer the talents to use them. “Whampoa Military Academy” is also interpreted as a talent but not a talent.
This problem plagued Hong Xiaowen, but he said, "I later figured out that ten years ago everyone began to say that the Institute is a Whampoa Military Academy. It was also spoken five years ago, three years ago, until today. If we use the tense, this is definitely not a past tense. When it is completed now, there are talents to go in these years, and there are always talents coming. The research institute can retain this title all the time. Everyone has their own choices and different things at different stages. This is understandable. We are very happy that all the residents have expressed their growth when they left, and they also miss the time of the institute. ”
Signature at the inauguration ceremony of the Microsoft Asia Research Institute
In the past 20 years, “Whampoa Military Academy” has cultivated a large number of legendary talents, some of which remain in Microsoft Research Asia, and some have entered large companies such as BAT, and some have joined the entrepreneurship to create a world of their own. These people are familiar with the industry, they are:
Kai-Fu Lee —— First Dean of Microsoft Research Asia, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Innovation Workshop, Dean of Innovation Engineering Institute;
Zhang Yaqin & mdash;— second president of Microsoft Research Asia, now Baidu president;
Shen Xiangyang & mdash;— third president of Microsoft Research Asia, now the only Chinese executive vice president of Microsoft;
Hong Xiaowen —— current president of Microsoft Research Asia, senior vice president of Microsoft, chairman of Microsoft Asia Pacific R&D Group;
Zhang Hongjiang & mdash; & mdash; former deputy director of Microsoft Research Asia, retired Jinshan Software CEO, now source capital investment partner;
Wang Jian & mdash; & mdash; former vice president of Microsoft Research Asia, one of Alibaba's partners, chairman of the technical committee, “ father of Alibaba Cloud;
Ma Weiying & mdash; — former vice president of Microsoft Research Asia, vice president of today's headlines;
Xu Fengxiong & mdash;— former senior researcher at Microsoft Research Asia, known as the father of IBM "Deep Blue"; retired at Microsoft Research Asia;
Tang Xiaoou & mdash; — was the head of the Visual Computing Group at Microsoft Research Asia, and is the founder of Shangtang Technology;
Sun Jian & mdash; & mdash; former chief researcher at Microsoft Research in Microsoft, now despising the chief scientist and dean of the Institute;
Wang Haifeng & mdash;— After joining the Ph.D., he joined Microsoft Research Asia to study natural language processing. He is now Baidu Senior Vice President, General Manager of AI Technology Platform System, Dean of Baidu Research Institute, and authoritative expert in natural language processing;
Lin Bin & mdash; — joined Microsoft Research Asia in 2000, and co-founded Microsoft Asia Engineering Institute in 2003 with Zhang Hongjiang and Zhang Yaqin. Now the founder, president and mobile phone are not general managers of Xiaomi Group;
Zhao Feng & mdash; & mdash; former vice president of Microsoft Research Asia, now CTO, vice president of Haier Group;
Li Shipeng & mdash; — Former Vice President of Microsoft Research Asia, Vice President of Science and Technology, and CTO of Xunfei AI Research Institute;
Zhou Ming & mdash; — now Vice President of Microsoft Research Asia, President of the International Society of Computational Linguistics, and Director of the Chinese Computer Society;
Yong Yong & mdash; — former vice president of Microsoft Research Asia, now CTO, senior vice president of Lenovo Group;
Yu Kai & mdash; — entered the Microsoft Asia Research Institute in 2002 to conduct research on image search, now the founder and CEO of Horizon Robot;
Zheng Yu & mdash;— former senior research institute of Microsoft Research Asia, head of urban computing, now vice president of Jingdong Group, general manager of Jingdong Urban Computing Division, dean of Jingdong Smart City Research Institute, chief data scientist of Jingdong Finance .
He Xiaofei & mdash;— joined Microsoft Asia Research Institute in 2001, is now the founder and CEO of Feibu Technology, one of the first Chinese scholars to publish NIPS;
Jia Jiaya & mdash; & mdash; Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Microsoft Research Institute jointly trained Ph.D., Tenured Professor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Distinguished Scientist of Tencent Youtu Laboratory, IEEE Fellow;
He Yuming & mdash;— Microsoft Asia Research Institute Intern, now the Facebook AI Research Institute, has won numerous computer vision academic awards.
The 20th anniversary of the founding of the hospital, Luo listed 20 people is also a commemoration, these 20 people lead the industry development, but Lei Feng network editors believe that 7000 alumni in more than 20 years will affect our world from all aspects.
a bridge between industry and academia
Since its inception, Microsoft Asia Research Institute has been promoting the development of cutting-edge technologies in the entire computer industry, focusing on six major topics including natural user interfaces, intelligent multimedia, cloud and edge computing, big data and knowledge mining, computer science and artificial intelligence. The direction of research, soon after its establishment, developed into Microsoft's largest research institution outside the US headquarters.
Nowadays, many companies are building research institutes to develop basic technologies for the sake of long-term development. Microsoft Research Asia is undoubtedly a model. What are the merits to be emulated?
Microsoft’s global executive vice president, head of Microsoft’s artificial intelligence and research division, and Shen Xiangyang, former president of Microsoft Research Asia, talked about several reasons:
The first reason is to have an open research environment for doing research. In China at that time, it was very new for companies to do research institutes. We never thought that companies could set up open research institutes and share their achievements. Since its inception, Microsoft Research Asia has been open and shared, and has continuously invited computer scientists from around the world, Turing Award winners to China to share their results.
For the second reason, Microsoft has trusted research from the CEO and has the determination to do research. Twenty-seven years ago, Microsoft President Bill Gates made up his mind to become a research institute and established Microsoft Research Institute. He founded the Cambridge Research Institute in the UK 21 years ago and came to Beijing 20 years ago. After the Gates, Ballmer and Satya have also increased their investment in technical research.
The third reason is to do the innovative spirit of research. There are many aspects of scientific research culture. The most important thing is to be able to innovate and dare to question the authority of the past. This is a very important thing to do research in China.
As Shen Xiangyang said, the birth of Microsoft Research Asia is inseparable from the forward thinking of Microsoft President Bill · Gates, the development of the Institute is also inseparable from the spirit of open cooperation.
Rick Rashid, founder of Microsoft Research, recalls that Microsoft established the Microsoft Research Institute in 1991 and played a key role in Microsoft's introduction of Windows 95 in 1996. At the time, a quarter of the papers on graphics came from Microsoft. In 1996, Bill · Gates wrote a letter to Rick Rashid saying that the Institute had such a big impact on the company and hoped that the research department could triple. Rick Rashid recalls that at the time Microsoft Research had only 100 people, and that only by moving out of the United States could this expansion be achieved.
Beijing University President Hao Ping and Tsinghua University President Qiu Yong all talked about the fate of Bill · Gates' visit to Beijing in 1997. Hao Ping recalled that Bill · 23 years ago, Gates visited China and made a special trip to Peking University. He felt a profound academic atmosphere at the Peking University campus and decided to set up a basic research institution in China. Coincidentally, Qiu Yong also talked about similar origins. In 2007, Bill Gates accepted an honorary doctorate from Tsinghua University. In his speech, he said that when he visited Tsinghua 10 years ago (1997), he felt that Tsinghua students were very smart. He was deeply impressed by his enthusiasm and innovative spirit, which prompted him to decide to establish an Asian research institute in Beijing.
I believe that Bill · Gates also felt the same impressive style of learning at the Peking University Tsinghua University. Danling Street, where Microsoft Research Asia is located, is also a stop away from Peking University Tsinghua University. The geographical advantage also makes it close to each other.
With a good academic environment, Microsoft Research Asia has been able to establish long-term academic cooperation at all major levels, build a bridge between industry and academia, and in the past 20 years, it has not lost much hope.
Twenty years of twenty years
Since its inception, Microsoft Research Asia has four deans. The first dean is Li Kaifu and the second is Li Yaqin. Both terms are 2-3 years. Shen Xiangyang was the third dean. After four years in office, he was replaced by Hong Xiaowen. He has been the dean for eleven years.
Shen Xiangyang recalled that when he first took office, Microsoft Research Asia was still renovating. He joked that he received a very important task at that time, that is, to pick the floor for the research institute, precisely because the color of the floor was chosen, the research institute developed. Getting better and better. By June 2004, the foreign media MIT Technology Review published an article saying that Microsoft Research Asia was the world's hottest computer laboratory. At that time, Shen Xiangyang was at the airport in the United States. When he saw the magazine, he excitedly put all the magazines on the magazine. The MIT Technology Review was bought and the boss was very surprised.
The Microsoft Asia Research Institute rooted in Beijing is internationally recognized, mainly relying on research strength. According to Shen Xiangyang, Microsoft Asia Research Institute has published more than 5,000 papers in top conferences and journals for more than 20 years, of which 50 won the best paper award. Just on the list of AAAI 2019 papers that have just been published in the top academic conference on artificial intelligence, there are 27 articles from Microsoft Research Asia. For Shen Xiangyang, every paper made him impressed. Combining the theme of the 20th anniversary, he chose 20 papers to introduce to you.
In 1999, a paper published by Microsoft Research Institute in the field of computer graphics and image called "Plenoptic Sampling" received extensive attention at SIGGRAPH, and made a name for the research capacity of the institute; then a 2007 article. Learning to Rank: From Pairwise Approach to Listwise Approach, this paper has made the Institute a world-class in machine learning; in 2018, in the field of neural network machine translation, "Joint Training for Neural Machine Translation Models with Monolingual Data is also very important.
The twentieth anniversary of the year is just a paper, and the products and technologies continue to infiltrate and influence the industry, making Microsoft Asia Research Institute have the glory of the present. The above three papers, friends who have not seen it, are worth looking for. Due to limited time, we have not been able to hear Shen Xiangyang's introduction of all 20 papers. Afterwards, relevant information will be available. Lei Feng will introduce it again.
Five key areas
Microsoft Research Asia values basic research, but it is also on the front line of the industry, which is significantly different from the school. Many people who go to Microsoft Research Asia are eager to use products to change the world.
Shen Xiangyang also introduced the five key areas of global influence of Microsoft Research Asia: Internet and search, network and systems, machine learning and intelligence, voice and language, vision and graphics. In addition, the celebration site Microsoft released a lot of Microsoft product information supported by Microsoft Research Asia, Lei Feng network editor also summarized here.
The first area, the Internet and search. Microsoft's main product is Bing (Bing). The Bing search engine has a 1/3 market share in the US and a 20% market share in the UK. When users use Bing search, the design of large-scale distributed systems such as web page storage, analysis, acquisition, and sorting comes from Microsoft Research Asia, and it also helps Bing become smarter.
In the field of "Technology Cognition Intelligence" in the technology exhibition area, Lei Feng found a "video-based conversational AI engine: easy to find video clips"; this application is in Bing's technology, it is understood that when users search in Bing In the video, Bing can find the corresponding content in the video content according to the keyword, and mark the segment to the user. There is also a multi-data source Q&A based on knowledge extraction and abstracts. This technology supports Bing's ability to understand the content of the article and extract the answers directly from the article, saving users time.
The second area, networks and systems. In the era of artificial intelligence, Microsoft has abandoned the "mobile first, cloud first" strategy, turned into "smart cloud & smart edge", as Microsoft's core cloud computing product Microsoft Azure plays a decisive role. Microsoft Azure has a number of key technologies for storage, computing, and networking that are contributed by Microsoft Research Asia. In the core Azure Compute section, researchers at Microsoft Research Asia designed highly optimized resource allocation and VM placement algorithms to enhance VM availability in Azure with cumulative cost savings of more than $1 billion.
The third area, machine learning and intelligence. This mainly refers to the AI algorithm and framework. Azure ML and ML Net integrate many algorithms from Microsoft Research Asia, including distributed parameter server Multiverso, theme model LightLDA, high-performance machine learning algorithm LightGBMb, LightGBMb is used in Bing Search ad clickthrough rate forecast. Microsoft Research Asia has also developed Tools for AI, a development kit for developers to build a full-platform, full-featured product lifecycle and support a variety of deep learning frameworks.
The fourth area, language and voice. Universal artificial intelligence is the vision that Bill Gates has always wanted to achieve, and language and voice technology are at its core. In the SQuAD Text Comprehension Challenge list sponsored by Stanford University in 2018, the R-NET and NL-NET models of Microsoft Research Asia were in EM values (representing the predicted answer and the real answer exactly match) and F1 values (representing predictions). The answer and the real answer are similarly matched. The two dimensions are the first to surpass the human score; in March 2018, the machine translation system jointly developed by Microsoft Research Asia and Microsoft Redmond Institute is in the general news report test set newstest2017. For the first time in the English test set, it reached a level comparable to human translation. At present, the voice synthesis related product functions in Windows all adopt the speech synthesis (TTS) engine provided by Microsoft Research Asia.
The fifth field, vision and graphics. At present, the development of computer vision is inseparable from the residual network ResNet proposed by Microsoft Research Asia. Two or three years ago, the Institute used a 152-layer network on ImageNet to achieve an accuracy rate of 96%. Today, the residual network has become the standard for computer vision. AlphaGo Zero also uses ResNet to play Go.
Recently, Microsoft Asia Research Institute's breakthrough in the field of vision and graphics is OCR (Optical Character Recognition). In terms of OCR, Microsoft Research Asia has the best technology in the world. Shen Xiangyang is very proud to say. Of course, many of the technologies of computer vision and graphics are used in many Microsoft products, including Windows, Cognitve Service, X-box, Hololens, and Kinect. These products are closely related to Microsoft Research Asia. For example, the face recognition technology used by Windows Hello, which was first seen in Windows 10, came from Microsoft Research Asia.
Empowering all walks of life
In the era of artificial intelligence, the gap between technology and landing is getting bigger and bigger, and the development of science and technology is inseparable from the collaborative innovation with the industry. In recent years, Microsoft Research Asia has also carried out technical and scientific research cooperation with leading companies in various industries such as finance, medical care and education.
In November 2017, Microsoft Asia Research put forward the concept of “Digital Transformation as a Service (DTaaS)” and formally established Microsoft Research Asia “Innovation Meeting” to fully utilize the research wisdom of Microsoft Research Asia. Reserve to help enterprises solve the technical challenges encountered in the development process, read the trends of science and technology development, and explore broader development prospects. “Innovation” is a large state-owned enterprise, a world-renowned foreign-funded institution, a leading private enterprise and a start-up company covering a wide range of industries including financial services, manufacturing, logistics, retail, education and medical health.
At the celebration, as the first member of Microsoft Asia Research Institute, the world's leading education company Pearson introduced the cooperation with Microsoft Research Asia. Pearson built the Longman Xiaoying with Microsoft Xiaoying as the technology foundation. When students are engaged in English conversation and pronunciation practice at home, they can start the English conversation directly by simply opening Longman Xiaoying on WeChat. At the same time, Longman Xiaoying will score and correct the students' oral performance, effectively solving the problem of “dumb English” and the lack of standard of oral English. Currently, Longman Xiaoying has supported Pearson's 9 levels of learning content, serving more than 35,000 students, and is expanding from a diverse range of content and usage groups.
The same is the first batch of members, the internationally renowned pharmaceutical company Pfizer also demonstrated cooperation with Microsoft Research Asia in the medical field. It mainly uses artificial intelligence services such as computer image recognition and machine learning running on Microsoft Smart Cloud to jointly realize automated, high-efficiency and high-accuracy medical image recognition technology, greatly improving the timeliness of fungal sample inspection and identification, and reducing labor. The intensity of the work to be tested, and the inspection work is spread to more medical institutions.
Hong Xiaowen said that for the exploration of the unknown and the creation of the future, we cannot rely on one company alone. We need the entire ecosystem to achieve it together. Twenty weak crowns, Microsoft Research Asia continues to open up the journey of innovation.