Microsoft Provides Academia With $1 Million to Advance Research Relevant to Virtual Earth and Trustworthy Computing

REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 16, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the recipients of approximately $1 million in academic research funding. Through a request for proposal (RFP) process, Microsoft is encouraging academic research focused on advancing Microsoft® Virtual Earth™ technology as well as developing Trustworthy Computing curriculum projects. The 23 grant recipients represent universities from countries around the world, including in Belgium, India, Russia, South Korea and the United States. The eight winners of the Virtual Earth RFP will receive a total of $300,000 (U.S.), while the 15 winners of the Trustworthy Computing RFP will receive a total of $750,000 (U.S.). The maximum individual grant amount for each RFP is $50,000 (U.S.).

“We invest in innovative research, collaborate with academia and governments to advance education, cultivate next-generation IT leaders, and partner to build knowledge economies,” said Sailesh Chutani, director of the External Research & Programs group within Microsoft Research. “We have the largest RFP program in the IT industry and are very committed to advancing state-of-the-art computing.”

Virtual Earth RFP Winners to Advance Virtual Earth Technologies

The Virtual Earth RFP, initiated and funded by Microsoft’s Virtual Earth and Local Search business units, is designed to encourage university research in areas relevant to digital geography, including spatio-temporal databases, routing, computer vision, ontologies, map user interfaces and visualization.

“Virtual Earth is one of the most exciting and challenging projects Microsoft has ever undertaken,” said Gur Kimchi, software architect in the Virtual Earth business unit at Microsoft. “A strong academic collaboration program ensures that we have the smartest and brightest minds working with us to enable this revolutionary technology.”

Virtual Earth is Microsoft’s innovative mapping and local search platform that enables consumers, enterprises, independent software vendors and Web developers to harness state-of-the-art local search, mapping and location technologies. A great example of the Virtual Earth platform at work is the Microsoft Windows Live™ Local consumer destination site. The Virtual Earth platform provides unique immersive visuals and easy-to-use search, mapping, sharing and driving directions features. Windows Live Local is based on the Virtual Earth platform.

The eight winners of the Virtual Earth RFP will conduct basic research in digital geographics that is expected to advance the state of the art.

“This award from an industry-leading player in online mapping provides an incredible opportunity for us to work with the high-caliber scientists at Microsoft Research,” said Cyrus Shahabi, associate professor at the University of Southern California and Virtual Earth RFP winner. Shahabi’s work is designed not only to allow users to navigate through a 3-D model but to ask questions and get information about a geographic area seamlessly and effortlessly. “We also hope Microsoft will integrate the technologies that result from this project into Virtual Earth, so the benefits go both ways.”

The following eight people are the Virtual Earth RFP winners:

  • Maneesh Agrawala, University of California, Berkeley (United States)

  • Frank Dellaert, Georgia Institute of Technology (United States)

  • Dieter Fox, University of Washington (United States)

  • David Mark, University of Buffalo (United States)

  • P.J. Narayanan, Indian Institute of Information Technology-Hyderabad (India)

  • Hanan Samet, University of Maryland (United States)

  • Shashi Shekhar, University of Minnesota (United States)

  • Cyrus Shahabi, University of Southern California (United States)

Advancing the State of the Art of Trustworthy Computing

This year’s Trustworthy Computing RFP is the second in a series of Trustworthy Computing and software engineering curriculum RFPs. The first program focused on the creation of Trustworthy Computing curricula with broad appeal; this year the program focused on advancing Trustworthy Computing by developing innovative technology and policy in five areas: business integrity, privacy, reliability, security and secure software engineering.

The winners of this year’s programs and their area of focus follow:

Business Integrity

  • Aura Ganz, University of Massachusetts (United States)

  • Connie Justice, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) (United States)

  • Linda Morales, Texas A&M University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (United States)


  • Beomsoo Kim, Yonsei University (South Korea)

  • Nora Rifon, Michigan State University (United States)

  • Paul Schwartz, University of California, Berkeley (United States)


  • Tao Li, University of Florida (United States)

  • George Rouskas and Rudra Dutta, North Carolina State University (United States)

  • Mehmet Sahinoglu, Troy University, Purdue, Case Western Reserve University, Texas A&M University (United States)


  • Lorrie Cranor, Michael Reiter and Jason Hong, Carnegie Mellon University (United States)

  • Guevara Noubir and Ravi Sundaram; Northeastern University (United States)

  • Alfred Weaver, University of Virginia (United States)

Secure Software Engineering

  • Yan Chen, Fabian Bustamante and Peter Dinda, Northwestern University (United States)

  • Frank Piessens, Wouter Joosen and Pierre Verbaeten ; Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium)

  • Vladimir Safonov, St. Petersburg University (Russia)

The Microsoft Research RFP: Investing, Collaborating and Cultivating

In addition to Virtual Earth and Trustworthy Computing, the Microsoft External Research & Programs group will soon announce the winners of its $1.2 million (U.S.) Digital Inclusion RFP, which empowers academic researchers worldwide to tackle technological challenges to positively affect health, education and socioeconomic conditions.

Other recent funding programs have included Computer Gaming Production Curriculum, ConferenceXP, Phoenix, Tablet PC and Computing Curriculum, and Excellence in Software Engineering.

Today’s funding is part of the External Research & Programs group’s broader collaboration model, one that underscores Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to investing deeply in innovative research. The group provided almost $4 million in IT research funding through the administration of six RFPs in the past fiscal year. Over the past two years the External Research & Programs group has supported more than 125 research projects at universities around the world in areas ranging from social computing and gaming to robotics and digital inclusion.

The External Research & Programs group is divided into three geographic regions. Chutani leads the North America, Latin America and India region, and is based in Redmond, Wash. Along with funding university research in specific areas, Chutani’s group offers a variety of global and regional initiatives and programs, including working with faculty around the world on curriculum, hosting academic conferences and workshops, and providing internships as well as doctorate and faculty fellowships. In the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, the focus of the Cambridge, England-based group is on developing relationships primarily with the European Science Initiative and on creating, leading and accelerating fundamental innovation through collaboration. The Asia Pacific team, based in Beijing, China, focuses on developing and improving computer curriculum and advancing research in computer science.

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research employs more than 700 people in five labs located in Redmond, Wash.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing; and Bangalore, India. The External Research & Programs group within Microsoft Research is dedicated to building world-class relationships with colleges and universities that enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and establish Microsoft as a valuable technology partner for higher education. More information can be found at

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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