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E. Jardin & C. Schoch

In July, Microsoft will open the doors to a new R&D center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by the Charles River.

The managing director of the new lab, mathematician Jennifer Chayes, exhibits the ambition to bring together computer science and social sciences. Unlikely? Apparently not if co-manager of "Microsoft Research New England Lab," Christian Borgs (J. Chayes husband) is to be believed: "We should be developing expertise in economics so that we understand how people value things, in sociology so that we understand how people interact with one another, in psychology so that we understand what makes people do what they do."

But interaction with the social sciences is not the only ambition of the new R&D center. Opening it on the East Coast offers the computer multinational an opportunity to build relationships with the research labs in that area where there is a high concentration of basic research. Microsoft also intends to move closer to companies that it has recently acquired, such as Groove and SoftGrid.

Eventually the lab should employ some 50 people, two-thirds of which will not be part of the prominent research staff, J. Chayes announces.