Microsoft Rolls Out Tools to Help Scientists (and Eventually Companies) Manage Data Deluge

From the seas to the stars, Microsoft Research is trying to increase its impact. The Redmond, WA-based computer science research organization is releasing new software tools aimed at helping scientists manage and visualize huge amounts of information, and make discoveries in fields as diverse as astronomy and oceanography. The announcement of the free tools, called Project Trident, is being made today at the 10th annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in Redmond.

Everyone knows information overload is a huge issue. Just try being a scientist these days. With increasing amounts of data available from the Internet, satellites, telescopes, cameras, gene sequencers, and networked sensors, researchers—and organizations in general—are looking for ways to cut through the deluge and focus faster on doing the analysis and getting results, rather than sorting through data.

It’s also a problem faced by big companies, financial analysts, and medical institutions. So, ultimately, Project Trident is not aimed at spearing purely scientific research problems—it’s software that also could yield big results for business down the road. “If we look back at the challenges faced in business, scientists were facing them years if not decades before,” says Roger Barga, a Microsoft researcher and principal architect on Project Trident. “We’re getting an early look at what our business customers will expect in their products in 3-5 years. It’s pushing another Microsoft [Windows] platform into new areas.”

Project Trident started around 2006, when Barga began collaborating with legendary Microsoft researcher Jim Gray (who was lost at sea in January 2007) on tools to help oceanographers make sense of volumes of data on things like temperature, salinity, and the physics of seafloor hydrothermal vents. “There’s a clear understanding of the science and how to put instruments in the ocean, but there’s a gap in how to convert data streaming in from the ocean to useful analysis,” Barga says. “Jim had this vision of … Next Page »

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] Follow @gthuang

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  • This sounds fantastic. Excel is great for small projects, but it definitely has its limits and requires far too much user intervention. Having a piece of software that can handle data streams and provide of means of analyzing large amounts of information is sorely needed!!