This week I'm back at Dagstuhl for the Workshop on Algebra in Complexity Theory. Bill is here as well and we hope to have a typecast for you later this week.
The big discussion is the closing of Microsoft Research in Silicon Valley last week. The 50 researchers at MSR-SVC included 15 in a strong theory group. Luckily I captured the page last night as Microsoft has eliminated all mention of the lab from its web site. Just like the novel 1984: Microsoft doesn't have a research lab in Silicon Valley. Microsoft never had a research lab in Silicon Valley.
I visited MSR-SVC a couple of times, once inspiring a 2005 blog post on The New Research Labs. Cynthia Dwork was just starting to think about differential privacy. Jason Hartline, then a researcher at SVC, would later help me grow theory at Northwestern. In 2008 I took a trip there with Northwestern economist Mark Satterthwaite talking on how to connect CS and economics.
Omer Reingold, a favorite theorem author, writes his farewell to MSR. Sergey Yekhanin was supposed to be at Dagstuhl this week but unfortunately cancelled after getting the news. There have been rumors of changes in Microsoft Research since Satya Nadella took over as CEO but the suddenness of the closure of MSR-SVC took everyone by surprise. Computer scientists sent out on the streets well-off the usual hiring cycle. Many other Bay Area institutions will try to help in the short term and I would hope these researchers will find a new permanent home by the next academic year. Luca and Michael also chime in.
Industrial labs come and go but we should remember their legacy. Even as the scientists move on, the research they produce always remain part of our discipline.