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Microsoft researchers dream big

Wouldn't it be nice if your computer could read your paper in the morning? That sure would be handy, but even better than that would be if your computer could search through 1,000+ newspapers. Afterwards your computer would read you even more information about the same topic, but never the same information again (no repeats). Microsoft thinks that computers can do that and its working on a way to make this happen along with other ideas.

What if your computer could read the newspaper for you and tell you just what you needed to know? What about 1,000 newspapers?

Researchers at Microsoft think computers can do just that. Someday. Google and Microsoft already offer news aggregation sites that collect all of the day's news stories from throughout the Web. However, MSN Newsbot and Google News present the first part of a story, assuming that is the most important part. Microsoft research is looking into creating software that can read the whole article--and dozens of others on the same topic--and come up with an accurate summary. In theory the research could be extended to even allow the summary to mimic a particular style--giving, say, a Wall Street Journal-style summary of Jennifer Lopez' wedding to Marc Anthony.

"The research issue is comprehension," said Lucy Vanderwende, who is heading the project. "Can the machine understand?" If the answer is yes, you can bet the folks at MSN want to know. Indeed, several of the research projects Microsoft showed off Wednesday in Silicon Valley are designed to help the company in two of its most critical challenges--battling security threats and taking on Google in the Web search and information business. The miniature science fair was part of a road show for Microsoft, which held a larger exhibition in March at its main campus in Redmond, Wash.

News source: C|Net News.com

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