Anti-Spam Researcher Wins Microsoft Fellowship

Discussion in 'Mail Chat' started by roundabout, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. roundabout

    roundabout VIP

    Feb 17, 2011
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    Anti-Spam Researcher Wins Microsoft Fellowship

    IT journals reported yesterday on a university researcher who has been teaching computers to better detect spam – Nina Balcan of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    Ms Balcan recently received a Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship for her work developing and improving computer learning methods which can be harnessed to develop bespoke software which can examine emails and determine whether they are spam messages.

    Such work is vital, because without such programs, computers would be swamped with a tidal wave of spam every single day. Ms Balcan’s award from Microsoft involved a $200,000 grant to further her research, out of a total programme budget of $1.4 million. Microsoft said that there are eight fellowships available under the programme.

    Her research hinges on refining data mining, which has applications far beyond spam prevention. However, this area of the research is very important for computer users, because it gives computers the ability to deduct whether an email is, for instance, a friend’s bona fide invitation to join Facebook, or a spammer’s phishing expedition.

    Ms Balcan said that the disadvantage of previous anti-spam measures was that large amounts of information needed to be provided for the computer before it could detect spam emails on its own, “therefore a person has to label a huge number of mails as spam or not spam, which is not the most efficient.”

    She prefers “active learning”, whereby computers are encouraged to examine unlabelled emails and generate their own questions for the user, who then needs only to label a few emails as spam before the computer can take over on its own.


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