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Waseda Frontline Research Vol. 23: Information theory and data science (Part 3 of 3)

Toshiyasu Matsushima
Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering; Director, Center for Data Science
Field of expertise: Information theory

Manabu Kobayashi
Professor, Center for Data Science
Field of expertise: Information theory

Part 3: Building the future with the Center for Data Science

Part 3 focuses on the Waseda University Center for Data Science, where Professor Matsushima has served as director since 2017. The Center for Research Strategy invited Professor Manabu Kobayashi, who is a full-time member of the center, to join in as an interlocutor. Professor Kobayashi is an information theory expert who has studied coding theory since he was a student, which is one of the mathematical theories in the field of communications. At the center, Professor Kobayashi supports the leadership of the director, Professor Matsushima, in addition to providing consultation and collaborative research in data science in response to offers from inside and outside of the university. The two will discuss the characteristics of the center’s activities and their thoughts for education.

Available for students and researchers in all fields

Matsushima:   Professor Kobayashi is a data science research professional. I know because I used to work with him in the same lab, but Professor Kobayashi’s extensive knowledge allows him to answer questions and requests from researchers and students in various fields. First of all, I would like to ask Professor Kobayashi, as a full-time member, what kind of things he thinks about while working at the Center for Data Science.

Kobayashi:   We would like to work closely in cooperation with the researchers and students who need the center’s resources. When someone uses the center, they are asked to fill in an application form with the content of their research and the problem they wish to solve. Based on that, they will be interviewed and consulted on the content in detail, and we put our heads together to decide on what both sides need to do. Also, regardless of the department or field of research, we try to make the center available to the entire Waseda students and faculty doing any kind of research because, as Professor Matsushima often says, now is a time when research using data is being done in all fields.

Professor Kobayashi (right) was a graduate student at the Industrial and Management Systems Engineering Specialization in the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University. He studied coding theory and obtained his Ph.D. in 2000 with his thesis, “Studies on decoding methods beyond the BCH limits of BCH codes and their applications in soft decision decoding.” Professor Kobayashi said, “Although coding theory has been around since the 1970s, it was rediscovered in the late 1990s and merged with theories on artificial intelligence and machine learning, having a major impact on information and communications fields.” His own research also extends from coding theory to artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Win-win along with companies

Matsushima:   As of now, there are various demands for the center, and I realized the magnitude of expectations. Of course, we consult with researchers and students within Waseda University, but companies are now requesting to work with us to conduct research and solve problems. Surprisingly, there are many requests not only to use the center’s data science resources, but also to obtain the cooperation of researchers from various fields at Waseda University, such as requesting a psychology faculty member to join a project, and tackle problems comprehensively.

Kobayashi:   I agree. In fact, I also feel that users want to utilize the knowledge of the center and Waseda University more comprehensively, rather than just aiming to solve single problems. For example, in July 2018, Waseda University and Mizuho Bank signed an academic exchange agreement on research and education aimed at expanding the base of data science use. It is a comprehensive exchange that includes joint research in data science and joint development of data science education programs. We hope that Mizuho Bank will use the knowledge of the researchers to inspire solutions for daily business problems and new businesses, while advancing our education and research using data that Mizuho Bank has.

Matsushima:   Like a bank, in a company that is involved in people’s entire lives, I think that there are a lot of jobs that handle data. This is also the case with Mizuho Bank, but I hope we can increase the number of partners who can engage in comprehensive exchanges and collaborations. The approximately 50 faculty staff members at the center have their own specialties. I am reassured that we could create a system in which experts in data science, such as Professor Kobayashi and other faculty staff from various specialties, can participate in research assignments.

“The Future of Data Business at Megabanks,” a symposium sponsored by the Center for Data Science. A speakers came from Mizuho Bank. Many Waseda University students hurried to get in. Exchange agreements will also focus on student education. A data science practical education program has also been implemented that allows undergraduate students with specialties to take programs at the center, and then gain practical experience at Mizuho Bank.

I want students to learn how to think about data science

Matsushima:   The center also focuses on education. What kind of people will be creating our society in the future? What kind of education should such people receive? I would like to ask what Professor Kobayashi thinks.

Kobayashi:   I think that those who can effectively integrate their expertise with the power of data science will be more important in the future society. Also, I hope I can mentor such people. Simply inputting data into a computer and getting results do not take advantage of expertise. What kind of data should be included? What kind of meaning can be seen in the output from a professional point of view? Can results be said to be rational or unexpected, and why? We need experts who can properly explain these things from a professional perspective, so we would like to develop such talent. To that end, we would like to generously think about and teach learners how we should work on data science.

Matsushima:  I think so, too. I want students to learn how to think about data science. University is a place to learn the process of knowledge. I do not feel that it is useful to teach computers and software that change all the time. I want students to learn a way of thinking in data science, which will be with us all our lives, and go out into the world.

Professor Matsushima talks about expectations for students

The act of thinking as human beings

Matsushima:   Finally, I would like to send a message to prospective students who may attend Waseda University. Professor Kobayashi, if you please.

Kobayashi:   Of course. Now is an age where artificial intelligence and big data are heavily used in society. Going forward, we will become a society that uses them even more frequently. I think those who are interested in artificial intelligence, big data, and their uses have tremendous opportunities. Computers will do the simple work. However, computers have trouble understanding the essence of things. That is why the power to understand and think about the essence as a human being will become even more important. I want interested students to become capable of things that computers cannot do. How about you, Professor Matsushima?

Matsushima:  I think it is important to be a person who can look at fact directly and think properly. Looking at fact means to be able to obtain and analyze data. Thinking is required to find out what needs to be done using your expertise. If you enter Waseda University, you can become that kind of person, regardless the department or the area of your study. You can learn data science in addition to what you will major in. Some students enter the university without having to take math as a subject on their entrance exams. At the center, we are planning a curriculum so that such students can also learn to way of thinking in data science
. If you feel that looking at fact and thinking are important, please come to Waseda University. We look forward to meeting you!

☞Click here for Part 1
☞Click here for Part 2

Profile

Toshiyasu Matsushima
Toshiyasu Matsushima graduated from Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University with a Ph.D. in Management System Engineering in 1991. He worked at NEC Corp, and held positions as lecturer at Yokohama College of Commerce; associate professor at the Department of Industrial Management and professor at the Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, School of Engineering, Waseda University, before being appointed professor at the Department of Applied Mathematics, School of Fundamental Science and Engineering in 2007.

Professor Matsushima concurrently serves as director of Waseda University Center for Data Science, which was established in December 2017. His research field is information theory and its applications, and his research topics are those of theoretical research, such as various entropy; machine learning using statistical information; statistical processing; communications; information security; optimality such as in control; theoretical research in performance limits; and design of optimal algorithm and their performance evaluations.

He was a visiting research fellow at the Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Hawaii; visiting faculty member at the Department of Statistics, University of California, Berkeley; chairman of IEICE Engineering Sciences Society; chairman of the Special Committee on Information Theory Research, IEICE Engineering Sciences Society; deputy chairperson, Society of Information Theory and its Applications; and administrator of the Society for Quality Control Management. Professor Matsushima also served as member of the editorial committee for papers published by the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence; Institute of Electronics; Information and Communication Engineers; and the Society for Quality Control Management. Additionally, he is the manager of Waseda University’s rugby club.

For further details, visit the Matsushima Laboratory website at http://www.matsu.mgmt.waseda.ac.jp/?la=en

Manabu Kobayashi
Professor Manabu Kobayashi graduated from a doctoral program at Waseda University in 2000. He was appointed research associate at the School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University in 1998. He served as researcher at Waseda’s Advanced Research Institute for Science and Engineering; and lecturer, associate professor and professor at the Faculty of Engineering, Shonan Institute of Technology before becoming professor at the Center for Data Science, Waseda University in April 2018. His specializations are statistical learning theory, machine learning theory and coding theory. The main research topics include latent class models and collaborative filtering research, research on automatic classification based on statistical theory and optimization algorithms, and research on learning analytics by machine learning.

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