Complexity: tackling large systems in science and engineering
Large systems feature in both the natural sciences and incomputer science – and in both fields, the demands are increasing. For example, better understanding of biological systems will unlock further improvements in healthcare, a field where more data is available than ever but new methodologies are needed to aid analysis and innovation. And as computer systems become increasingly complex and multi-device, the challenge of reliability is paramount.
In the natural sciences, large systems present a challenge to traditional methodologies. Yet if we postulate that large systems in nature, such as cells or ecosystems, yield computational behaviour, then new analytical concepts can be formulated by making use of concepts that are fundamental to computer science and using the tools that have been developed for computer systems for decades. Working with leading scientific institutions in Europe and around the world, Microsoft is part of several major inter-disciplinary research projects on biological systems.
Mathematics is another key domain of large systems research where Microsoft is at the forefront of interdisciplinary collaboration in Europe. For example, Microsoft is working with academic researchers in Germany on the application of mathematical approaches for software quality verification, to ensure that software in large computer systems is doing exactly what it is supposed to do.
These and many other examples show the great potential benefits for Europe and the world of innovation based on interdisciplinary research and transferring concepts from one scientific domain to another.