Message from the Dean

Welcome to the Graduate School of Informatics
Akihiro Yamamoto
Dean, Graduate School of Informatics

Computers and other information devices have become an integral part of daily life. We now live in an age in which people are more likely to read books or newspapers on a digital tablet than in the traditional formats on printed paper. With the spreading popularity of smartphones, the telephone has evolved into something much more than a device solely for the transmission of voice signals from afar. If you own a digital TV, you have access to a more diverse array of information content and are no longer limited to watching broadcast programs. If you have a smart card with integrated chip technology, you can use it for a wide range of electronic payments, including even bus or train fare. Should you run your own blog, microblog, or video server, you can easily broadcast your own content. And if you use social networking services, you have fresh opportunities to reconnect with old friends. Furthermore, the fusion of varied sensor technologies with information devices facilitates the accumulation of large volumes of data—so-called “big data”—that are harnessed for a range of social, academic, and corporate business activities. These activities in turn generate new data sets that are utilized by downstream activities, feeding a continuous process of development. Informatics is an academic field that supports human activities of this nature in an increasingly advanced, knowledge-intensive world, and has itself evolved along the way.

In April 1998, Kyoto University created a new graduate school through the reorganization and integration of information-focused research at five faculty (Engineering, Science, Agriculture, Letters, and Integrated Human Studies). Because its scope encompassed such a broad diversity of academic fields, we decided to incorporate the term “informatics” into the name of this new school rather than use the established labels of “information engineering” or “information science.” The Graduate School of Informatics is committed to its founding mission of cultivating highly talented individuals with broad perspective and insight through the pursuit of pioneering and creative interdisciplinary research and constructive contributions to the field of informatics itself.

One of the School’s defining hallmarks is that the high energy level displayed not only by large-scale research projects but also by its younger researchers. Many research projects are being led by young researchers. Additionally, many doctoral students have been selected as research fellows under the Research Fellowships for Young Scientists Program of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, thus getting off to a strong start as leaders of the next generation in informatics research. While enrolled, most students—even those in the Master’s program—will eventually submit a thesis after gaining experience with giving paper presentations and delivering conference presentations in Japan and abroad. The energy level of student research typically reflects the many awards and commendations that students receive through conferences and other venues in response to their research findings. Research these days has in general shifted into an entirely new mode compared to the situation back when the School was founded. Some projects, for example, involve research on new applications for basic technologies but with a stronger emphasis on social value. In FY 2013, the School set up a new laboratory in collaborative research, which has fostered pioneering research in collaboration with four private companies.

Education at the Graduate School of Informatics is focused on training highly qualified engineers and cultivating researchers that will be able to excel within the new academic field of informatics. To help achieve this mission, the School welcomes aspiring students not only from the fields of informatics, electronics, or electrical engineering—divisions and departments with a direct connection to ICT—but also those from a broad range of additional backgrounds, regardless of whether they have a scientific or humanities-based orientation. It also accepts numerous exchange students from abroad and has prepared courses that can be completed without prerequisite Japanese language proficiency, as detailed later. The Doctoral program, moreover, enthusiastically accepts—as professional students—individuals who have completed a master’s degree and are continuing with careers as researchers at private companies or research institutes. Students that complete the School’s degree programs pursue active careers in a vast range of fields. In addition to filling researcher positions in universities or corporate research institutes, they also excel as high-level engineers in areas ranging from information and communications technology and manufacturing to finance, broadcasting, and services.

Among new education projects, in FY 2012, MEXT launched its Program for Leading Graduate Schools. The Graduate School of Informatics began participating in the Inter-Graduate School Program for Sustainable Development and Survivable Societies that same year, and in FY 2013 it launched the Kyoto University Collaborative Graduate Program in Design. All are degree programs that were created to tie together graduate school Master’s and Doctoral programs, equip qualified students with powers of insight and creativity, and prepare such students for roles as future leaders on the global stage in a broad array of industrial, academic, and public-sector careers. It is anticipated that the study of design in particular will evolve as an academic field forming core foundational technologies for future society, and the Graduate School of Informatics has taken the initiative to help foster this trend. In FY 2014, the Graduate School of Informatics created the Unit for Promotion of Informatics Education. This Center is aimed at students enrolled in not only the Graduate School of Informatics but other faculty and graduate schools as well. It has the purpose of promoting the study, formulation, and implementation of university-wide informatics education programs that will facilitate the cultivation of human resources with knowledge of information science, computer science, information-intensive social systems, and business as well as the ability to contribute to the pool of human innovation.

To foster effective and efficient research and development work on technologies aimed at aiding responses to and solutions for an array of problems confronting Japan and the wider international community, the 4th Science and Technology Basic Plan currently advocated by the Japanese government cites a need for research and development work on technologies that can be applied in multiple fields. As a specific initiative, it has been proposed that research and development be encouraged in the fields of simulation, e-science, and other forms of advanced ICT as well as mathematical science, systems science technology, and other interdisciplinary technologies that can be utilized in multiple fields. These fields fall precisely within the scope of informatics. The Graduate School of Informatics is committed to creating foundations of support for the international society of the future, and it welcomes each and every individual that aspires to aid the advancement of informatics as a young researcher.