Skip to main content

News & Events

Computer Science/Data Science Colloquium: Rick Rashid MS '77, PhD '80

April 16, 2018
Wegmans Hall 1400 (auditorium), River Campus

Rick Rashid
Researcher Emeritus, Microsoft Corp.


“Basic Research in the Era of Big Data – How Data Science has Changed and Continues to Change the Research Enterprise."



When I began my career in the early 1970’s the prevailing conceit among computer scientists and scientists in many other disciplines was that human introspection and analysis could be used to solve many of the important questions of the time. Indeed, some of the early attempts at data driven solutions – such as IBM’s early work on statistical natural language understanding – were heavily criticized for being impractical and ultimately doomed to failure. Not withstanding the successes of statistical techniques -- such as the early work on Hidden Markov Modelling for speech recognition in the 1980 --  when I founded Microsoft Research in 1991 the dominate approaches in many areas of computer science such as computer vision and natural language understanding were still heavily tied to human intuition and reasoning. The same could be said of a number of other fields of research.  In 2012, on a stage in Tianjin China, in front of thousands of Chinese students and faculty, a portion of my address to that audience was translated to Chinese and spoken in my own voice in real time.  That speech not only earned me my first million views on YouTube, but it also highlighted the value of a data driven approach to problem solving using a new (for the time) technique of “deep neural networks”. In the years since, “deep neural networks” have become a critical tool in the solution of many important problems in a number of disciplines and “Data Scientist” has become a job description at many companies.  In this talk I will discuss how data science has transformed and continues to transform the basic research enterprise at institutions like Microsoft Research and how it is broadly impacting both academia and business.




Mr. Richard F. Rashid, also known as Rick, serves as Researcher Emeritus of Microsoft Corporation and served as its Chief Research Officer. Mr. Rashid is charged with oversight of Microsoft Research's worldwide operations. He also served as Senior Vice President Research of Microsoft Corporation from May 2000 to March 2003. Previously he served as the Director of Microsoft Research, focusing on operating systems, networking and multiprocessors. In that role he was responsible for managing work on key technologies leading to the development of Microsoft Corp.'s interactive TV system and authored a number of patents in areas such as data compression, networking and operating systems. In addition to running Microsoft Research, Mr. Rashid also was instrumental in creating the team that eventually became Microsoft's Digital Media Division and directing Microsoft's first e-commerce group. He was promoted to vice president of Microsoft Research in 1994.

Before joining Microsoft in September 1991, he served as professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). After becoming a CMU faculty member in September 1979, he directed the design and implementation of several influential network operating systems, and published dozens of papers about computer vision, operating systems, programming languages for distributed processing, network protocols and communications security. During his tenure at CMU, Mr. Rashid developed the Mach multiprocessor operating system, which has been influential in the design of many modern operating systems and remains at the core of a number of commercial systems.

He was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2003 for his work in operating systems and for innovation in industrial research. He also is credited with co-development of one of the earliest networked computer games, Alto Trek, during the mid-1970s. His research interests have focused on artificial intelligence, operating systems, networking and multiprocessors. He has participated in the design and implementation of the University of Rochester RIG operating system from 1975 to 1979, the Rochester Virtual Terminal Management System from 1976 to 1979, the CMU Distributed Sensor Network Testbed from 1980 to 1983 and CMU's SPICE distributed personal computing environment, which included the Accent network operating system from 1981 to 1985. He has published papers on computer vision, operating systems, programming languages for distributed processing, network protocols and communication security.

He received master of science (1977) and doctoral (1980) degrees in computer science from the University of Rochester. Mr. Rashid graduated with honors in mathematics and comparative literature from Stanford University in 1974.

Category: Talks