As a company that keeps itself on the technological cutting edge, Microsoft needs to hire and maintain a constant stream of highly competent employees. Whether it's hardware engineers working on Surface devices, coders working on Windows 10, or mathematicians exploring the latest concepts in machine intelligence, Microsoft suffers from an embarrassment of riches when it comes to really smart people.
The Technet blog took a few minutes today to honor just such a person, researcher Zuzana Kukelova. Something of a math wiz, Kukelova works as a computer vision researcher at Microsoft's Cambridge, U.K. research lab, and has been working on some pretty heady stuff.
Now a post-doc researcher specializing in computer vision at Microsoft's research lab in Cambridge, U.K., Kukelova is the recipient of the 2015 Cor Baayen Award, given to the best Czech and Slovak Ph.D. thesis in computer science and, naturally, applied mathematics.
The Cor Baayen announcement specifically cited Kukelova's ability to bridge the gap "between highly abstract mathematical results, such as algebraic geometry, and engineering applications."
Kukelova received her Ph.D. from the Czech Technical Program in Prague, working to flesh out the work of Henrik Stewinius on applying advanced algebraic methods to computer vision to solve some significant real-world problems.
"Our techniques for solving systems of polynomial equations have wide applicability," she said. "Computer vision of course, but also robotics, controlling satellite trajectory, game theory, market equilibrium problems, computational biology — there are still some unsolved problems that can probably be solved using techniques that we have developed."
Speaking about receiving the prestigious award, Kukelova was a bit less effusive than some of her colleagues.
"I am honored to have been chosen," she says.
"I am used to working with amazing colleagues, but very few combine Zuzana's mastery of complex mathematical tools with her zeal for real-world applicability," said Andrew Fitzgibbon, a principal researcher in the lab's computer vision group. "We are very lucky to have the opportunity to work with her."
We know that Microsoft is engaged in some advanced research and development, and that ultimately results in some pretty cool technology. Seeing the company taking time to highlight the people behind the research is always welcome.