savasSavas Parastatidis, MSc., PhD.

Partner Architect & Co-Founder, Cortana, Microsoft

Short bio

In May 2016, I rejoined Microsoft to help with Cortana’s evolution towards an “ambient intelligence” experience that enhances every aspect of our reality.

From Jan 2015 to May 2016 I worked at Facebook’s Applied Machine Learning group. There, I designed and built an extensible conversational understanding and task completion platform.

I was the architect of the Bing team that built, operated, and evolved the cloud platform behind Cortana, Microsoft’s Personal Digital Assistant. As the team’s Architect I had an overarching role that spanned disciplines such as user experiences, services/platform design, system architecture, technical coordination, software engineering, vision definition, and strategy.

I loved working in the personal assistant space. I believe that a new set of conversational and anticipatory/proactive experiences will fundamentally change the ways in which humans consume information and complete tasks, all through the use of technology. The requirements span various fields of computer science such as natural user interfaces, semantics, knowledge representation and reasoning, the Web (check out my book “REST in Practice“), large-scale systems/services, stream processing/reactive computing, machine learning, and much more. We live in exciting times! :-)

In the past, I worked in the Server and Tools Division at Microsoft where I helped build infrastructure for cloud-based, large-scale, compute- and data-intensive processing. I also spent time in Microsoft Research where I led the design and implementation of a number of tools for scientists and a graph store/platform for semantic computing applications called Zentity.

Prior to joining Microsoft, I was a Principal Research Associate at Newcastle University where I undertook research in the areas of distributed, service-oriented computing and eScience. I also worked as a Senior Software Engineer for Hewlett Packard where I co-lead the R&D effort for the industry’s Web Service transactions service and protocol.

The timeline of my professional whereabouts so far…

I was born (15 April 1973) in Xanthi, a northern Greek city, and lived there for the first 18 years of my life. My family home is located just 3km away from Xanthi, at a small village called Petinos, part of the municipality of Vistonida.

I moved to Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, and stayed there for 4 memorable years (1991-1995) while studying at the Department of Information TechnologyTechnological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki.

From Thessaloniki, I jumped to Leeds and the Leeds Metropolitan University to do my placement through the Erasmus student-exchange program.

At the end of my placement, I moved to Newcastle upon Tyne and followed the advanced M.Sc. course in Computer Software and Systems Design (CSSD) at the School of Computing ScienceUniversity of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Newcastle continued to be my home while I was reading towards my Doctor of Philosophy degree with Prof. Paul Watson, which I completed in 2000. I then worked as a post-doctoral researcher for the HiPPO project and as a Senior Software Engineer at the HP Arjuna Labs.

At the end of 2001, I had to return back to Greece in order to do my military service (in Greece it is still obligatory); the most unproductive time of my adult life.

In 2003, I returned to Newcastle to become the Chief Software Architect of the North-East Regional e-Science Centre and work again closely with Prof. Paul Watson. At Newcastle, I also held the title of Principal Research Associate at the School of Computing ScienceUniversity of Newcastle upon Tyne.

In September 2005 and after many great years in Newcastle, I moved to Redmond to work for Microsoft as a Program Manager at the Connected Systems Division.

In 2006, Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President for Technical Computing then, persuaded me to join his newly created team as an Architect.

In early 2007, the entire team moved to Microsoft Research, where Tony Hey took over the External Research team.

After close to three memorable years with Tony Hey and his team, I moved to Bing to work on my crazy ideas around semantics and structured data.

My next stop included 2 years of working on a large-scale data and compute processing platform for Azure, big data infrastructure, distributed computing using actors, building an eventual consistency store, and much more!

I worked as the Architect of the Bing team responsible for the cloud services/platform behind Cortana.

I passed through Facebook as the Tech Lead for the Language and Conversational Understanding platform that now processes all incoming posts and comments. It was a wonderful experience.

I am now back at Microsoft to take Cortana to the next level.