Microsoft Research India Podcast

Graphical illustration of a podcast, representing a microphone. Text reads Microsoft Research India. The corporate logo of Microsoft is at the top right corner.

The Microsoft Research India podcast brings to you conversations with some of the world’s leading experts whose research is impacting technology and society across the world.

Black and white profile photos of a woman and man smiling at the cameraEpisode 7: Helping young students build a career in research through the MSR India Research Fellow program. With Shruti Rijhwani and Dr. Vivek Seshadri

One of Microsoft Research India’s goals is to help strengthen the research ecosystem and encourage young students to look at research as a career. But it is not always easy for students to understand what research is all about and how to figure out if research is the right career for them. The Research Fellow program at Microsoft Research India enables bright young students to work on real-world research problems with top notch researchers across the research lifecycle, including ideation, implementation, evaluation, and deployment. Many of the students who have been part of the program have gone on to become researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs.

Today, we speak to Shruti Rijhwani, a graduate of MSR India’s Research Fellow program who is currently doing her PhD at the Carnegie Mellon University, and joining us is Dr. Vivek Seshadri, a researcher at MSR India who also heads the Research Fellow program at the lab.

Shruti was a research fellow at MSR India in 2016, working on natural language processing models for code-switched text.

She is currently PhD student at the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Stemming from her work at MSR India, she has continued research in multilingual NLP, with a focus on low-resource and endangered languages.

Vivek primarily works with the Technology for Emerging Markets group at Microsoft Research India. He received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from IIT Madras, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University where he worked on problems related to Computer Architecture and Systems. After his Ph.D., Vivek decided to work on problems that directly impact people, particularly in developing economies like India. Vivek is also the Director for the Research Fellow program at MSR India.

For more information about the Research Fellow program, click here.

A black and white photo of a woman smiling at the cameraEpisode 6: Evaluating and validating research that aspires to societal impact in real world scenarios. With Tanuja Ganu

At Microsoft Research India, research focused on societal impact is typically a very interdisciplinary exercise that pulls together social scientists, technology experts and designers. But how does one evaluate or validate the actual impact of research in the real world? Today, we talk to Tanuja Ganu who manages the Societal Impact through Cloud and AI (or SCAI) group in MSR India. SCAI focuses on deploying research findings at scale in the real world to validate them, working with a wide variety of collaborators including academia, social enterprises and startups.

Tanuja is a Research SDE Manager at Microsoft Research, India. She is currently part of MSR’s new center for Societal impact through Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (SCAI). Prior to joining MSR, she was a Co-Founder and CTO of DataGlen Technologies, a B2B startup that focuses on AI for renewable energy and sustainability technologies. Prior to this, she has worked as Research Engineer at IBM Research, India.

Tanuja has completed MS in Computer Science (Machine Learning) from Indian Institute of Science (IISc, Bangalore). She has been recognized as MIT Technology Review’s Innovator Under 35 (MIT TR 35) in 2014 and IEEE Bangalore Woman Technologist of the Year in 2018.  Her work was covered by top technical media (IEEE Spectrum, MIT Technology Review, CISCO Women Rock IT TV series, IBM Research blog and Innovation 26X26: 26 innovations by 26 IBM women).

Click here to go to the SCAI website.

A composite photo of Dr Divya Gupta and Dr Rahul Sharma looking at the camera and smiling.Episode 5: Making cryptography accessible, efficient, and scalable. With Dr. Divya Gupta and Dr. Rahul Sharma

Ensuring security and privacy of data, both personal and institutional, is of paramount importance in today’s world where data itself is a highly precious commodity. Cryptography is a complex and specialized subject that not many people are familiar with, and developing and implementing cryptographic and security protocols such as Secure Multi-party Computation can be difficult and also add a lot of overhead to computational processes. But researchers at Microsoft Research have now been able to develop cryptographic protocols that are developer-friendly, efficient and that work at scale with acceptable impact on performance. Join us as we talk to Dr. Divya Gupta and Dr. Rahul Sharma about their work in making cryptography easy to use and deploy.

Chandra Madilla and Chetan Bansal smiling at the cameraEpisode 4: Can we make better software by using ML and AI techniques? With Chandra Madilla and Chetan Bansal

The process of software development is dramatically different today compared to even a few years ago. The shift to cloud computing has meant that companies need to develop and deploy software in ever shrinking timeframes while maintaining high quality of code. At the same time, developers can now get access to large amounts of data and telemetry from users. Is it possible for companies to use Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence techniques to shorten the Software Development Life Cycle while ensuring production of robust, cloud-scale software? We talk about this and more with Chandra Madilla and Chetan Bansal, who are Research Software Development Engineers at Microsoft Research India.

At left, a woman smiling at the camera. At right, a man holding a coffee mug looking into the camera.Episode 3: What bhasha do you want to talk in? With Kalika Bali and Dr. Monojit Choudhury

Many of us who speak multiple languages switch seamlessly between them in conversations and even mix multiple languages in one sentence. For us humans, this is something we do naturally, but it’s a nightmare for computing systems to understand mixed languages. On this podcast with Kalika Bali and Dr. Monojit Choudhury, we discuss codemixing and the challenges it poses, what makes codemixing so natural to people, some insights into the future of human-computer interaction and more.

Kalika Bali is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research India working broadly in the area of Speech and Language Technology especially in the use of linguistic models for building technology that offers a more natural Human-Computer as well as Computer-Mediated interactions, and technology for Low Resource Languages. She has studied linguistics and acoustic phonetics at JNU, New Delhi and the University of York, UK and believes that local language technology especially with speech interfaces, can help millions of people gain entry into a world that is till now almost inaccessible to them.

Dr. Monojit Choudhury is a Principal Researcher in Microsoft Research Lab India since 2007. His research spans many areas of Artificial Intelligence, cognitive science and linguistics. In particular, Dr. Choudhury has been working on technologies for low resource languages, code-switching (mixing of multiple languages in a single conversation), computational sociolinguistics and conversational AI. He has more than 100 publications in international conferences and refereed journals. Dr. Choudhury is an adjunct faculty at International Institute of Technology Hyderabad and Ashoka University. He also organizes the Panini Linguistics Olympiad for high school children in India and is the founding chair of the Asia-Pacific Linguistics Olympiad. Dr. Choudhury holds a B.Tech and PhD degree in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Kharagpur.

Vivek SeshadriEpisode 2: Enabling rural communities to participate in crowdsourcing with Dr Vivek Seshadri

Dr Vivek Seshadri is a researcher at Microsoft Research India. A graduate of IIT Madras and a PhD holder from Carnegie Mellon University, his work primarily involves problems that directly impact people, particularly in developing economies like India.

In this podcast, we talk to Dr Seshadri about diverse topics, including his motivation to focus on research that can help underserved communities, and in particular, Project Karya, a new platform to provide digital work to rural communities.

While crowdsourcing platforms and the gig economy have been around for a while, they are not accessible to rural communities. Through Project Karya, Dr Seshadri is working to democratize access to crowdsourcing.

Eric Horvitz, Director of Microsoft Research Labs, looks onEpisode 1: Potential and pitfalls of AI with Dr Eric Horvitz

Dr Eric Horvitz is a technical fellow at Microsoft, and is director of Microsoft Research Labs, including research centers in Redmond, Washington, Cambridge, Massachusetts, New York, New York in the US; Montreal, Canada; Cambridge, UK; and Bengaluru, India.

He is one of the world’s leaders in AI, and a thought leader in the use of AI in the complexity of the real world.

In this episode, we talk to Dr Horvitz about a wide range of topics, including his thought leadership in AI, his study of AI and its influence on society, the potential and pitfalls of AI, and how useful AI can be in a country like India.

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