Message from Director-General

Tomoyuki Higuchi

October 16, 2012

Tomoyuki Higuchi

The Institute of Statistical Mathematics

We are starting to see revolutions occurring in a wide variety of areas, from cutting-edge R&D to business, in what is often called a “fourth paradigm”. Over the last year or two, we have seen big data (referring to massive data sets that are of highly variable quality) emerging as an R&D methodology to provide better forecast information and services for different purposes, used effectively to build everything from global models to models for man-made structures and people. The basic science and technology needed to handle big data is born from the research field of data-centric science, which encompasses engineering for massive databases and the disciplines of statistical science, mathematical engineering, machine learning, and data mining. The Institute of Statistical Mathematics (ISM) is the only research institute in Japan to bring together significant numbers of researches from each of these disciplines.

With the growing need for professionals in data-centric science, the Institute launched the School of Statistical Thinking in fiscal 2011 as part of our project to foster statistical thinking, which is one of two major projects we are pursuing. The school accepts graduate students, researchers, and practitioners with deep knowledge of a particular specialized discipline, and, with the cooperation of mathematics-related institutions in and outside of Japan, strives to develop professionals who are highly specialized while possessing the broad foundational knowledge necessary to put the fourth paradigm into action. We hope that the School of Statistical Thinking will develop many next-generation librarians who can play a curating role for science in the big data era, based on a thorough understanding of the trans-disciplinary qualities of statistical science linking a broad range of research disciplines.

Our other major project to establish Network Of Excellence (NOE) in statistical mathematics has seen some changes. We closed our two strategic research centers in January 2012 and launched the Research Center for Statistical Machine Learning and Service Science Research Center. With this change, all of our research centers are now NOE-type centers, establishing a framework for the pursuit of broad collaborative research centering on five areas. While we are encouraging collaborative research at the organizational level in order to strengthen the functions of today’s inter-university research institutes, the project to establish NOE represents a trend-leading initiative for collaborative research.

Since the disaster in Japan last year, there has been renewed recognition of the importance of research that relates to massive and complex systems, such as used in smart grid and other energy management and for risk management of large-scale man-made structures. As a research institute that carries out fundamental research for systems science, we understand that we have a responsibility to meet society’s expectations. We look forward to your continued understanding and support of our activities.