Microsoft Research India to work on UIDAI
Microsoft Research India's annual research symposium, TechVista
2010, was recently organized in Bangalore. A report by Subhankar Kundu
Research India, in its fifth anniversary, indicated that it might soon get involved
in the Government of Indias dream project, Unique Identification of India
(UIDAI) at this years Microsoft Research India's annual research symposium,
TechVista 2010 in Bangalore.
TechVista brought together the best minds from the scientific
and academic worlds onto a common platform and provides an opportunity for the
research community, government, and students to interact and exchange ideas
on research and its future directions.
TechVista 2010 featured some of the technical and policy thought leaders from
India and abroad as speakers.
The inaugural session in the morning featured leading and influential personalities
from the government, academia and industry as speakers, with Nandan Nilekani,
Chairperson, and UIDAI as the Chief Guest. The timing of this announcement couldnt
get more appropriate than this event to announce its plan. The ex-Infy boss
has clearly indicated that Microsoft Research will be taking active part in
implementing this project of providing valid identity to more than a billion
people to form an inclusive society.
Nilekani said I am looking forward to work with researchers on technologies
like multi-lingual computing and bio-metrics. Microsoft, having such a strong
commitment on research, can definitely help in UIDAI project.
P Anandan, Managing Director, Microsoft Research India said, Were
interested in any societal challenge and we are eager to contribute. Its
an opportunity for our researchers to comprehend what challenges are involved
in this particular project.
It has to match our research capabilities like multi-lingual computing
or user interfaces for illiterate or coding. Research collaboration is not a
planned activity, so conversations happen and then there is a start and there
is no specific time-span to it, added Anandan.
The articulate chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI)
has also thrown some light on a tentative date when India will see the first
set of these numbers rolled out.
Nilekani said, I expect the first set of UID's will be rolled out between
August 2010 and February 2011 but no word of mine can be taken as a final announcement
as it all in power point presentation now. We are also targeting to provide
these numbers to 600 million people in next five years and for that, we seek
help from researchers.
Nilekani also pointed out that its quite tough for go through innumerable
computing challenges in creating largest biometric database. There will be a
thousand challenges to the research community as it will be the biggest biometric
data base that has ever been made, he said.
Microsoft Research India has launched ResearchAndYou.com, a dedicated portal
for a computer science community portal at TechVista.
The portal seeks to bridge the gap between the small number of computer science
researchers in the country and the large pool of potential research talent at
the Bachelors degree level. ResearchAndYou.com has some of the countrys
leading academics and researchers as mentors and aims to achieve the following:
ResearchAndYou.com is expected to provide students with an interactive forum
where they can connect with researchers and faculty from fields of their interest
to ask questions, explore research opportunities and understand the state-of-the-art.
The portal will also serve as a single source of information for resources in
different disciplines of computer science and related areas, with links and
pointers to different kinds of information, including reference material, research
papers, events and conferences, and research news.
Over the last few years, we are seeing an increase in the applications
for PhDs. At this juncture, it is important for the students to get access to
quality information that will help them in deciding on the future, in particular,
areas of choice for research, said Dr. N. Balakrishnan, Associate Director,
Indian Institute of Science.
Research, innovation and technological leadership are closely related
and interdependent. While India has great talent, it is yet to realize its potential
to be a world leader in research. We hope ResearchAndYou.com will be a great
resource in helping aspiring researchers, said Dr. P. Anandan, Managing
Director, Microsoft Research India.
An interesting panel discussion with noted academicians and research scientists
rejuvenated the audience with some insightful debate on "The Future of
Computing" with Turing award recipients - Prof. Barbara Liskov, Prof. Tony
Hoare, Dr. Butler Lampson and Dr. Tony Hey. Prof. Maria Klawe, President, Harvey
Mudd College, was the panel moderator.
The most interesting comment, definitely with a good sense of humour, came from
Tony Hoare who said the next big thing is going to be mobile phones which will
come from Apple.
During the interactive session, audience (majorly from student community), threw
some questions to the panel members. The most interesting one wasis it
possible to have industry-ready graduates?
Tony Hey pointed out saying its possible for first year till the technology
changes. Barbara Liskov was against the concept of producing industry-ready
graduates. She rather suggested providing basic techniques to enable students
adapt and change according to the changing trends.
Hoare again using his good sense of humor said, It
is possible to produce industry-ready graduate. Its just that the industry
is not ready for them.
Demos and Ph.D. posters
The second session encompassed the demos and Ph.D. posters from the different
Microsoft Research labs worldwide, talks by leading researchers and a poster
session by Indian Ph.D. students.
The demos included a large spectrum of fields in computer science, and
represented some of the cutting edge research being conducted at Microsoft Research.
The technical talks addressed some of the most challenging problems in
computer science, and ways to approach them.
The fellow researchers who presented Ph.D posters were from Indian Institute
of Science (IISc) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).