MSR Asia 研究者のご紹介(第1回)

Microsoft Researchの研究者のご紹介。記念すべき第1回は、荒瀬由紀です。荒瀬は阪大西尾研で博士課程の学生の時にMSRAにインターンに来ました。MentorはXing Xieでした。阪大卒業後MSRAにFull Timeの研究者として参加し、今では日本人インターン達の頼れるお姉さんとして、絶大な信頼を得ています。彼女に続くなでしこを待ってます!

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From Intern to Professional Researcher

It has been 1.5 year since I joined MSRA as a researcher. Before that, I have interned here for 11 months. Today I would like to think about how I changed from a student.

A practical change is my research area. I have been working on mobile HCI, specifically, presentation methods to show large Web pages on small screens of mobile devices. Through this work, I learned importance of “try and error” and thinking from different aspects. Users often do unexpected things. For example, when an application takes time to respond users’ action, what will they do? The kindest and patient users just wait, but usually others randomly push different buttons, shakes the device, etc., which are the best way to crash the app. I learned that we have to think all possible users’ actions and make apps to be robust. User experiments are the most difficult part but at the same time the most interesting part. Experimental participants always provide unexpected findings, from users’ behaviors to new ideas to improve the apps.

Now I am working on natural language processing and associated data mining, a different field from the one of my Ph.D. Why? When joining MSRA, I was given an opportunity to think about what I would like to do through coming researcher career. Actually I did not expect to have such opportunity and thought a lot. I met many researchers in MSRA to understand what motivates them to work on their area. Gradually I inclined to work on natural language processing. A reason is that I am interested in fundamental techniques that I have used before. In my Ph.D. work, I have “used” NLP tools but did not know their underlying technologies. My interest to human being, the mechanism of its brain and mental, would be another reason. Also language is really close to our life and providing technologies to process it would be valuable to variety of systems and apps.

Of course changing research area was a bit daring. However, owing to generous help of my manager and group members, I am really enjoying NLP research. Once I establish myself as a NLP researcher, I would like make use of my 2 different backgrounds by utilizing NLP techniques to mobile applications.

An internal change on my mental is how I plan my jobs. When I was a master student, I did not really know how to plan a project. I was doing a project as my interest goes, dreaming that a paper is finally accepted to a conference. Through the internship, I started to understand the importance of planning. As you know, in the internship, we need to finish a project in a fixed duration. Therefore, we need to plan a project to finish in months. This was a big change for me. And now, I am learning the importance of planning projects in a longer duration. I leaned the importance of thinking how our research contributes to others and how it changes something in years. Otherwise we may end up with producing trivial tricks, which are meaningless to others.

One more change is the mindset. When I was a student, there were always supervisors, both professors and senior students, who were responsible for teaching me. I enjoyed this right of students. When students graduate, of course, they should not expect the same situation and need to establish themselves. I do not mean that we should not learn something from others. Learning from others is of course important through the life. However, as a researcher, we should not expect others to teach us. We should struggle together to solve a problem, not rely on others to guide us to solve the problem. On the graduation day, my Ph.D. supervisor told us that “You obtained the Ph.D. degree, which means you are a professional. You should be confident that you know about your area more than anyone else. That is the professional. Of course you have to make effort for this, though.” These words are a precious gift that my supervisor gave us for our graduation.

These are just my own experience. I should note that there are different stories for each researcher. I hope that I will not feel shame for not achieving these when reading this article some years later.

( Author:Yuki Arase, Associate Researcher in NLC Group, who is previously an intern in WSM Group.)

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