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April 1, 2023

Greeting from the Head of Department

  • Kazuyuki MOTOHASHI
  • The Department of Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies was set up in 1992 within the Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo (UoT). It brings together some of the best and brightest researchers from a diverse range of fields in the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), which is a substantive operating entity of UoT. True to its name, the AIS is engaged in advanced and interdisciplinary education and research activities in specific academic fields including information, materials, the environment and energy, chemical biomedicine, barrier-free studies and other natural sciences, as well as the humanities and social sciences such as economics, law, politics and the arts. AIS also closely adheres to the RCAST philosophy of "University open to the society" and follows this as its mission, by distinctively focusing on using the findings of collaborative research with companies and local governments for the benefit of society.

    This year, AIS celebrated 30th year anniversary, and we have produced more than 500 doctoral degree holders from a wide range of students including working adults and international students.

    While it is said the workforce participation of people with doctorate degrees in Japan is still not at the level of Western countries, recently not only academic institutions but also corporations have become increasingly interested in hiring doctorate degree holders. As technology continues to transform and advance, companies are being asked to come up with even more groundbreaking innovations. This requires personnel who can return to more fundamental theories and apply scientific research processes to produce new findings.

    Innovations that have a huge impact on society often result from the synergy of differing technologies. This emphasizes the importance of obtaining a deep understanding of research in specialized fields, while also actively working with researchers in different fields. This is one reason why RCAST is an ideal location for AIS to operate in.

    At a glance, the two words advanced and interdisciplinary may sound somewhat contradictory. However, they resonate with the open and advanced research in scientific and technology that the AIS is bringing to society. Everyone at the AIS warmly welcomes all who would like to join us in taking on new challenges in advanced interdisciplinary studies.

Head of Department

Department of Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies,
Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo

Greeting from the Director of Managing Committee

  • Masahiko INAMI
  • What makes the Department of Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies unique is its outstanding interdisciplinary approach. Our department includes professors who are engaged in cutting-edge research in a wide range of fields. As is also written in “What is the Department of Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies?,” our department focuses on advanced scientific and technical theory related to information, chemical biomedicine, the environment, energy, and materials as well as the application of such theory, and we cover diverse fields that include social systems research such as social sciences and barrier-free technology.

    But why is interdisciplinary research so important? As one example that has become particularly relevant in recent years, let's consider the case of generative artificial intelligence. Nowadays, if you ask an AI-powered computer a question by using natural language, the computer will automatically respond with plausible sentences of its own that seem surprisingly natural, at least to the layman. However—to conduct research of this sort—simply thinking about artificial intelligence theories and algorithms is not nearly enough. You also have to remember copyright considerations pertaining to data used for artificial intelligence learning. It is also necessary to resolve any issues related to fairness or ethics, such as whether the output of the artificial intelligence includes discriminatory statements and whether minority groups are sufficiently considered. Finally, it is likely necessary to develop laws aimed at guaranteeing explainability and transparency to ensure that the technology can be reliably used in various fields.

    The above example makes it clear that, when it comes to conducting advanced research, it takes a lot more than just the pursuit of specialized expertise. The greater the effects of the research in question, the more crucial it becomes to adopt an interdisciplinary approach in order to sufficiently consider the effects on society. In addition to providing opportunities to deepen your expertise, our department offers special programs designed to provide a truly interdisciplinary perspective as well as programs aimed at developing leadership ability. In addition, because there are always specialists from different fields nearby, there are plenty of chances for active interaction.

    Our department's doors are always wide open to anyone who longs to pursue breakthroughs in various specialized fields or who wishes to devote their energy to the resolution of social issues by using an interdisciplinary approach. We look forward to pursuing the truth and contributing to society with all of you.

Tatsuya HARADA
Director of Managing Committee

Department of Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies,
Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo

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