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Advanced Computing, Mathematics and Data
Research Highlights

June 2008

Microsoft VP Sees Smart Cyberinfrastructure for Research at the Edge

Frontiers in Computational & Information Sciences Seminar Series Inaugurated

Dr. Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President of the External Research Division of Microsoft Research, presented "eScience, Semantic Computing and the Cloud: Towards a Smart Cyberinfrastructure for eScience" at the inaugural Frontiers in Computational & Information Sciences Seminar held June 2 at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The new seminar series features invited speakers from industry and government to discuss innovations and advancements in the computer sciences.

Dr. Hey's talk explored the idea and need for semantic-oriented computing technologies and showcased eScience projects that have successfully applied such technologies to facilitate and enhance information sharing and discovery.  "Most of the challenges of the future will have to do with the data—navigation and visualization will help to make sense of this," Hey said. 

According to Hey, frontier research in many fields will increasingly require the collaboration of globally distributed groups of researchers needing access to distributed computing, data resources and support for remote access to expensive, multi-national specialized facilities such as telescopes and accelerators or specialist data archives.

He asserted that in general an important road to innovation will be provided by multi-disciplinary and collaborative research—from bio-informatics and earth systems science to social science and archaeology.  Hey said there will also be an explosion in the amount of research data collected in the next decade—100's of terabytes will be common in many fields. These future research requirements constitute the ‘eScience' agenda. Powerful software services will be widely deployed on top of the academic research networks to form the necessary ‘cyberinfrastructure' to provide a collaborative research environment for the global academic community.

The difficulties in combining data and information from distributed sources, the multi-disciplinary nature of research and collaboration, and the need to move to present researchers with tools enabling them to express what they want to do rather than how to do it highlight the need for an ecosystem of semantic computing technologies said Hey. "Such technologies will further facilitate information sharing and discovery, will enable reasoning over information, and will allow us to start thinking about knowledge and how it can be handled by computers," he noted.

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