From Research to Product… and More Research

The LIP6 (one of my host labs in France) received Alisson Sol, from Microsoft Research, who gave us the talk “AutoCollage: From Paper to Product”. Alisson and I had the same supervisor for our M.Sc. in Computer Sciences at UFMG, Prof. Arnaldo Araújo, who was also present at the talk (we were four Brazilians in the audience!).

It was a very interesting talk, where Alisson explained his ideas on how developers can work in cooperation with researchers in order to bring their concepts to market, and how Microsoft is working to streamline this process, and to maximise the number of innovative ideas which get to see the light of day, without plaguing existing products with feature creep.

It was also a good glimpse at the radical new way Microsoft is thinking their user interfaces. The trend, which is clear in Microsoft Office 2007, reaches a pinnacle in AutoCollage: minimal, unobtrusive interfaces, and less features (or at least, less immediately visible features; following the principle that screen space is a valuable resource).

The product is available at Microsoft Store (at the moment only for the US and the EU).

* * *

Two bonuses from Alisson’s visit:

First, he showed me Windows Live Sync and Microsoft Live Mesh, which add a lot of interest to the “Live Services” platform, and might be an alternative to Microsoft Groove in an environment were people use both Windows and MacOS. As you might remember, I am shopping around for e-cooperation solutions for our research team, and especially, for our Franco-Brazilian partnership.

Second, he’s sent me the announcement for the Forum 2009 of the Microsoft Research-INRIA Joint Centre. In the detailed program, I’ve found this abstract:

Mathematical Components
Georges Gonthier, Microsoft Research Cambridge
Formalized mathematical theories can, like modern software, be built out of components. By components we mean modules that comprise both the static (objects and facts) and dynamic (proof and computation methods) contents of theories. We develop a general platform for mathematical components, based on the Coq “ssreflect” extension that was used to carry out the formalization of the Four Colour Theorem. We would validate the platform on two significant developments: a theory of efficient arithmetic, and the proof of the Odd Order theorem.”

Intriguing, isn’t it?  Hilbert’s program two dot oh?

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