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Net Journal 5

Crossover between the information world and the real world / fostering human resources with a high degree of professionalism and a broad outlook

---- What are the specific contents of the Global COE Program?

Dr. Arimura: One of its characteristics is that it is a joint research project of three fields - information, biotechnology and nanotechnology. Being the program leader, I am a sub-leader in information retrieval and data mining. The sub-leaders are Professor Yoshikazu Miyanaga, Hidemi Watanabe and Kazuhisa Sueoka. Professor Miyanaga specializes in media networking, Professor Watanabe in life sciences with a focus on gene analysis, and Professor Sueoka in nanoelectronics. A interdisciplinary team from the fields of information hardware/software, life sciences and nanotechnology is aiming to develop new research areas. Knowledge and technology in the information world are significant only when they are useful in the real world. Meanwhile, theoretical and technical development has been achieved by utilization of information technology in biotechnology, nanotechnology and other fields in the real world. Although these fields look very different at first glance, they are actually closely related each other. Then, if researchers in different areas can find out unexpected connection among them and exchange scientific views and ideas each other, more rapid and meaningful knowledge creation may be achieved at a deeper level. I strongly feel that this is possible.

Another characteristics of the program is its double-major human resource development. Hokkaido University has a tradition that placed importance on practical science since its foundation. Graduate schools require students to take four credits in a minor field besides their specialty in the Master's course and eight credits in the second minor in the Doctoral course. It is a very unique curriculum among Japanese national universities, in which students can acquire education and experience in other fields while engaging in profound study of their specialties. This is an essential qualification for research and development of technologies that are useful in the real world, and researchers and engineers who have graduated from Hokudai are always highly valued by companies and research institutes. Such tradition is handed down to young students currently studying in the graduate school to train them to be leaders in new academic fields. The emphasis on graduate school education is also a significant feature of this COE program.

In fact, our graduate school has fostered development of an integrated research system of three fields - electricity, electronics and informatics - since its foundation in 2004 through the previous 21st COE program, in which hardware and software researchers cooperate with each other beyond their individual realms of expertise. This means that the system already has the ability to create knowledge, but we wanted more. The application of the program has also given the main members an opportunity to engage in thorough discussions. I think it has been a very important process not only in terms of application, but also for members'understanding of each other, the characteristics of this graduate school and its future direction.

Hiroki Arimura, Doctor of Science

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