Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Beyond Search – Semantic Computing and Internet Economics: Request for Proposals 2007

Has it become any easier to find a needle in a haystack or just buy a new needle in the information age?

The surface Web consists of tens of billions of pages in over 80 languages and is growing rapidly. Beneath this surface Web, lies a deep Web of much greater size. Tens of thousands of merchants offer millions of products. Complexity, size, and rate of expansion combine to make finding information and products on the Web a significant challenge. The ‘user,’ now participates as an ‘innovator’ and ‘contributor,’ adding to the size and content, but not necessarily the structure, of the Web.

Today, we are still in the early stages of the digital information age, with few opportunities to greatly improve the ways in which the information seeker finds information.

Continuing to enhance our ability to find or to supply information on the Internet requires breakthroughs in fundamental research. Some of the key technologies needed to find, discover, extract, publish, share, or supply information, while making sure that the online world does not turn into a primary place for information leaks, include:

Semantic Computing (making the web meaningful)
Internet Economics (understanding the commercial needs of the users)
To help make advances in those areas, Microsoft is making real-world search and ad data available to academia, addressing the academic need for more large-scale data and encouraging innovation in academic research. Microsoft believes that by increasing the availability of relevant, large, and current data sets from Windows Live, new analysis of data and new algorithm developments in Semantic Computing and Internet Economics will be supported.

The total amount available under this request for proposals (RFP) is $1,000,000. Microsoft Research anticipates making approximately 20 awards averaging $50,000, with a maximum of $100,000 for any single award. All awards will be made in $US. Awards are generally made as unrestricted gifts to the institution. Outside the United States other local restrictions may apply to the terms of the award. For current policy regarding non-U.S. countries, please refer to

For all awards, payment of indirect costs (“overhead”) is not permitted.

Microsoft Research will take into account the reasonableness of the amount requested in any proposal in light of stated deliverables, local costs, etc., and reserves the right to fund proposals at an amount lower than requested if appropriate.

Awards are made for the purpose of seed-funding larger initiatives, proofs of concept, or demonstrations of feasibility. It is important to understand that funding will continue after the first year only in exceptional circumstances, and that the principal investigators should therefore make every effort to leverage Microsoft Research funds as one component of a diverse funding base in a larger or longer-running project.

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