School of Statistical Thinking

School of Statistical Thinking

Rapid development of information and communication technology has led to the explosion of data. Now surrounded by “Big Data”, everybody is expected to “think statistically”. More than ever, there is a need for data scientists who can handle such big data and are able to extract useful knowledge from it. Meanwhile, Japanese higher education is exhibiting a deplorable lack of production capacity in terms of data scientists. This can be accounted for by the fact that no academic institution other than ISM has a department of statistics and the small number of statisticians in academia are isolated from each other, being scattered over various disciplines. Hoping to gain a little traction on this problem, ISM established the School of Statistical Thinking, into which we integrated all of our educational resources. The following are the principal projects.

Project for Fostering and Promoting Statistical Thinking

Research Collaboration Start-up

The Institute had already been providing a consultation service for statistical science, but along with the launch of the School of Statistical Thinking in November 2011, this service was reorganized as a research collaboration start-up. This program, being one of the projects to foster and promote statistical thinking, is mainly aimed at supporting applied scientists and other non-experts. Expert statisticians affiliated with the Institute give them advice on statistical modeling, data analysis, and research. Some cases have developed into official research collaborations, which are our primary duty as an inter-university research institute. The start-up program covers a variety of topics, ranging from introductory to more specialized studies. Half of the clients are from the private sector, and the rest are staff members of public organizations, university professors, or students. The Institute accepts about 40 cases annually, some of which benefit society in diverse ways.

Open-type Professional Development Program

This is a spin-out program from ISM cooperative research projects. Establishing a goal is an indispensable element of the proposal of a cooperative research project. On the other hand, such goal setting is irrelevant for a summer school program, study session, or retreat. Since the launch of the School of Statistical Thinking, organizers of such group-oriented study programs can apply to the Open-type Professional Development Program. There are two categories under this program: one is 'workshop' and the other is 'intensive training for young researchers'. For FY 2016, five workshops have been accepted after review.

Statistical Mathematics Seminar Series

The Institute holds weekly seminar series on statistical mathematics every Wednesday. The seminars are led by in-house and external lecturers to showcase their latest studies. These lectures are free to attend. To view the seminar schedule and learn more about the program, please visit the Institute of Statistical Mathematics website.

Open Lecture

We hold an open lecture during Education and Culture Week every year (November 1 through 7), to introduce the Institute’s activities and to promote statistical science. We invite lecturers to speak on a timely topic relating to statistical science. The lecture is open to the general public. For further information, please visit the website(Japanese) of the Institute of Statistical Mathematics.

Data Science Research Plaza

Researchers funded by private-sector firms can maintain a desk and phone in the School of Statistical Thinking. This program is subject to fees, and the contract can be renewed annually. Supercomputer access is available to them as long as they submit their proposals to High Performance Computing Infrastructure; see the website http://www.hpci-office.jp/folders/english. A faculty mentor gives advice to the accepted funded researcher so that he or she can freely attend various events, such as seminars, workshops, conferences, and extension courses. After learning the expertise of the ISM research staff, participants in this program are invited to take advantage of paid consultants and funded research collaboration.

Tutorial Courses

The education program at ISM dates back to 1944, the year of founding. The Ministry of Education installed a training center within ISM to foster technicians in numerical computation. After the World War II, this training center was relaunched in 1947 to develop pollsters and census takers. It helped to cultivate professionals in the field of statistical surveys, while a growing number of entries from business and industry coming for various types of training were also observed.

When ISM joined the Inter-University Research Institute Corporation in 1985, the training center was formally shut down. We nevertheless tried to maintain 4 courses per year, relying on support from the private sector. The number of courses was tripled when ISM became an independent agency in 2005. Now the tutorial courses are operated by the School of Statistical Thinking, which was established in 2011.

In the 2015 academic year, 14 courses were held and the number of participants was 911. The total number of courses held from 1969 to March, 2016 was 335, with a total of 23,957 participants. These courses covered a wide range of fields from basic to applied statistics. The schedule of tutorial courses can be found on the website(Japanese) of the Institute of Statistical Mathematics.