How Computer Scientists are working at Microsoft to solve Cancer

Microsoft is the world’s largest software firm and has the best computer scientists you can find from all over the globe. But, a certain group of these experts is working towards a larger and society-centered goal: Solving the problem of Cancer with the help of computer science.


The group of scientists at Microsoft is using methods like machine learning and natural language to help process information in an organized and individualistic manner for oncologists and physicians to work upon. Another team is combining machine learning with computer vision to give radiologists a more detailed understanding of how their patients’ tumors are progressing over their treatment period.

Apart from these tasks, a lot of other teams are also working towards creating meaningful algorithms to help researchers understand different kinds of cancers and improve study on them as well as working on methods to fight cancer cells in the long run.

Microsoft is taking two approaches to solving Cancer

  • Cancer is an information system


This approach allows researchers to look into deadly diseases like cancer as an information processing system, much like a CPU. Using that approach the tools that are used to model and explain computational processes – such as programming languages, compilers and model checkers – are used to model and reason explain biological processes. This is a rather conventional approach and focused on past records.

  • Cancer is a data-driven system




This approach allows data analysts to look into cancer and other diseases as some form of project that is driven solely by meaningful data inputed. It takes advantage of the wide variety of biological data available for research, and involves applying machine learning to it for better solutions.

“Although the individual projects vary widely, Microsoft’s overarching philosophy toward solving cancer focuses on two basic approaches. The collaboration between biologists and computer scientists is actually key to making this work,”said Jeannette M. Wing, Microsoft’s corporate vice president in charge of the company’s basic research labs.

This sudden investment in solving life-threatening problems is nothing weird for Microsoft. In fact, the company management believes it is part of their core strategy. How so? Well, Microsoft’s policy has always been to empower people as much as possible. Thus, making the process of solving cancer more efficient, Microsoft is helping empower the thousands of scientists currently working on the project, with the large amount of funds that they have available for the cause.

Andrew Philips, who heads the company’s biological research group at Cambridge, says that it makes complete sense for Microsoft to wander into developing better methods to look at the cell of a human being. This is because the company is ready to invest in any computing platform, even if it is a human cell in the future.

Witnessing an era of massive information, the research world has a guardian angel in the form of Microsoft that is helping them understand it all by sharing the complicated information systems that it currently employs. The thing is that computer scientists are still in the very early stages of this research and those kinds of long-term goals still remain far off.

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A constant learner of gadgets, Ankit has been writing about technology and the internet, in general, for the past three years, and has written for several well-known media outlets.