In a blog post on Friday, Principal Research Software Engineering Lead at Microsoft, Yordan Zaykov, announced that Microsoft was going to change access to its cross platform framework, Infer.net, writing, “We’re extremely excited today to open source Infer.NET on GitHub under the permissive MIT license for free use in commercial applications. This is another big step for the software company that was once the vanguard of all things proprietary, the first being a move to encourage open source operating systems that came a couple of years ago. With the opening up of Infer.net, the company hopes that this move will foster more rapid advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence analysis of data sets and models that are being studied.
Infer.net was released in 2008 for academic purposes, and won an award from the Patents for Humanity for its assisting research in the fields of deforestation studies, genetic analysis of causes of diseases, and even epidemiology. It is essentially a machine learning (ML) engine that has been used in such Microsoft products as the Xbox entertainment system, and even Office.
The primary advantage that Infer.net provides its users is its ability to create a learning algorithm for itself based on the model that the users have fed into it. As Zaykov says, “This means that instead of having to map your problem onto a pre-existing learning algorithm that you’ve been given, Infer.NET actually constructs a learning algorithm for you, based on the model you’ve provided.”