At the Department of Communications and Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science and Communications students engage in comprehensive study of cutting edge hardware and software technology and undertake the construction of actual information systems with the aim of developing talent needed to contribute to the development of world-class technology.
Q. Professor Sakai, what is your specialty?
But the study of information access is not limited to search engines.
If you’re in a moving car, you probably will not be able to enter text into a search engine, and the surroundings may be too noisy to use speech input, making it impossible to set up a query in a search window. We think about alternatives in such situations. For example, wouldn’t it be great if your Smartphone could say, “The information you need now is . . . .”? Achieving this would require that the system have an understanding of the user’s information needs and circumstances. So one of the keywords of our research is “interaction,” or interactive learning by the system and the user.
The expanding domain of information access
Q. Specifically, what sort or research are you doing?
We have one student who is attending classes while we monitor his brain waves with electrodes attached to his head, then we evaluate the courses based on his reactions to them. This might seem like it has nothing to do with “information access,” but the brain waves produced by users are a source of information. If a system could read such information and respond to it appropriately, it would enable a splendid form of information access. We also have students who are working on systems for categorizing newspaper articles according to topic, and others who are studying construction of cross-language information retrieval systems.
Q: I understand you worked in industry for many years? What is the difference between industry and the university?
The thing that universities can do is to develop systems that are new, albeit small in scope. This is not possible without taking a long-term view and disregarding profitability.
Another topic I am studying that may sound a bit hum-drum is the development of methods for evaluating new systems. Rather than just studying a variety of topics as the whim strikes, greater advances can be made by sharing the results of research to date and conducting new research on top of those results. I think that universities are uniquely qualified for the research that enables advances in such information.
Wants students to try new things with their own hands
Q. What are the characteristics of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering?
It also means that the Department of Computer Science and Engineering may be more suited to people who have the ability to take action and want to make things with their own hands than to people who have big dreams but don’t do anything about them.