eScience and Research at Microsoft: Excitement about the Olympics, where is the edge of performance?

Well the Olympics continue and the Chinese are really showing off their abilities with a real leadership in Gold Medals.  And it is a good thing that Michael Phelps, a resident of California, showed up since it appears that he currently has won a large percentage of the US Gold Medals.  Gymnastics is about the ability of the performer to do spsmall_GWU-pressure-isoecific actions, the outer edge of performance is difficult to measure.  With swimming, is it possible to estimate the edge of performance.  Simulations can be made from these estimates and strokes, clothing, etc. can be modified using the simulations.

Male swimmers are taller now, inches count in the swim events, Mark Spitz is less than 2 meters tall, Michael Phelps is much taller.  This gives Phelps an edge. 

What other factors would you use to simulate a swimmer?  Would your swimmer simulation have to be different for males versus females?  I would think so, male shoulders tend to be wider, this modifies the aerodynamic drag.  What other factors could vary the surface simulations for swimmers?

The image to the right, is from:  Rajat Mittal, PhD, heads up the team of 10 researchers that make up the Flow Simulations and Analysis Group (FSAG) at George Washington University. The group’s primary focus is analyzing the physics of complex flows using numerical simulations, at least it was in 2005. 

What kind of classes do you need to study in high school to be able to work on interesting problems like this in college and as an occupation?  Physics, AP Math, AP Computer Science oriented classes would be the ones you strive for.  If you have already left high school and think that this would be cool to do, but didn’t prepare well enough, think about attending your community college and explore taking a series of math classes and programming classes to get you knowledgeable about what you need to know.  You can usually transfer these classes to a four year university.

image How does this information relate to the wind/air tunnel research I talked about in my earlier posting?  Once the roughness of the material is determined, a team like the researchers at GWU would then be able to modify the surface of the swimming simulation to match the material’s qualities.  The software would then be run and the output changed into a graphic like the one shown here.

How does Microsoft Research work with these types of simulations?  Microsoft Research has fostered the development of many of the approaches to graphics through improvements in the way that programmers work and utilize tools.  The programming tools that have come out of Microsoft Research, such as F# are leading edge approaches to simplification of programming large simulations.  Take a look at this URL for all of the projects that Microsoft Reseach has been working on:, all of them could be used in creating a swimming simulation.  After all wouldn’t you like for your country or state to be able to knock out the Gold at the Olympics sometime in the future?  You can be a part of this by becoming smarter and more skilled at math and technology and then helping the swimmers to improve by creating useful simulations.  We can do this at any age, and use the public educational facilities to explore how to expand our knowledge about Math and Science, most countries support this type of exploration through subsidized classes.

Where else can you use this information?  In game design, graphics design, medicine, programming and engineering.

If you are interested in this type of material, please make sure you are studying online or in class, and write programs using the free tools from Microsoft. 

So to get started, Right now, click this URL and read about F#, download it, use it: this is an interesting tool, especially if you are a TI graphing calculator freak.