Microsoft Academic Services: A Mission to Beat Human in Cognition

Time: 14:00

Venue: LT 1.5, Kilburn Building, Oxford Road, The University of Manchester, M13 9PL

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Speaker: Kuansan Wang, Director, Microsoft Research Outreach Innovation


Cognition is defined as the 'mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the sense,' and often 'encompasses processes such as knowledge, attention, memory, judgement, evaluation, reasoning and computation.' 

Based on this definition, humans appear to be destined to be surpassed by machine as machine can be equipped with massive memory with perfect recall, can remain attentive with perpetual endurance, and can exercise judgements and reasoning by executing necessary computations in a much faster and precise fashion. In this talk, I will describe Microsoft Academic services (MAS), a project set forth two years ago to create a cognitive agent that is proficient in all fields of study and explore how such an agent can empowered scholars to be better informed and more productive. At the core of MAS are a stack of technologies manifest themselves in the form of open cloud services that are designed to extract and organise knowledge from all academic publications discoverable from the entire web. I will overview the technical challenges we have faced, show how MAS performs at the age two, and describe the role it plays for MSR to assess research impacts of job applicants and our own researchers, to determine our sponsorships for academic conferences and research proposals, to analyse new trends and hot research topics, and to identify colleagues and institutions we should start or deepen ongoing collaborations.

Speaker bio

Kuansan Wang is a principle researcher and managing director of Microsoft Research Outreach where he is responsible for engaging with the global academic community on jointly advancing the state-of-the-art in the areas MSR conducts research. He is leading a team that conducts research on web-scale machine reading, intelligent inference, deep semantic analytics and user behaviour modelling.

In addition to contributing to the development of Microsoft Bing and Cortana, the technologies developed at his team can also be seen in Microsoft Academic services that include a search engine at and the Academic Knowledge API available through Microsoft Cognitive Services. Dr. Wang joined MSR in 1998 as a researcher in speech technology group where he conducted research in language modelling and multi-modal interactions. He then became a software architect for Microsoft speech product group, responsible for Microsoft Speech Server and Response Point, and represented Microsoft to W3C, ECMA and ISO to help author international standards in speech, language and communication areas. He returned to MSR to work on web search in 2007 and has been a key driving force to evolve web search from a keyword based to semantic based paradigm. In addition to the international standard specifications, he has also published more than 160 papers and patents from multiple jurisdictions. Dr. Wang received his BS degree from National Taiwan University and MS and PhD from University of Maryland, College Park, all in Electrical Engineering.