New Kyurizukai

Did you make up your mind to choose a researcher’s career when you joined the Department of Administration Engineering?
photo      No, far from it. My future as a researcher never occurred to me in those days. What’s more, I was not so serious about learning until the end of the third year. In fact, I was enjoying a student life, doing a side job as a lecturer for a cram school, engaging in basketball, badminton and outdoor circle activities. Incidentally, my wife and I met at the outdoor circle.
      I was awakened to the fun of learning only as a fourth-year student, when joining the lab of Professor Osamu Kurita (now professor at the Department of Administration Engineering) who was specializing in urban engineering and operations research and working on mathematical analysis of urban spaces. The way Prof. Kurita talked to us at the lab briefing was impressive. Particularly, his powerful analysis of various social problems using his wealth of knowledge as well as mathematical models was overwhelming. I was compelled to study under this professor. Even now I am still under the great influence of Prof. Kurita’s research style – mathematically approaching targets like urban and regional problems that have spatial structures.
      But there were some tough aspects in my research life. It was because our lab had the policy of emphasizing the process in which students need to find their own research themes. As a student barely entering a research life, I had many difficulties. After all, for my graduation thesis I created a model to determine the optimal location of railway stations by focusing on access to the station. In retrospect, I cannot say it was a research work of high quality. I had a hard time setting the theme through trial and error but somehow developed a model from zero. This hard-earned experience was the origin of my career as a researcher, which remains a fond memory even today.
      In reality, what structures to focus on varies according to the individual researcher. As such, the work of modeling inevitably involves the person’s subjectivity. No wonder modeling is often referred to as “art & science.” To put it another way, the fun of modeling lies in that each completed model contains some artistic elements that reflect the creator’s view of the world. Given that human or social problems are not governed by strict laws as in the world of physics, coexistence of multiple, dissimilar models is acceptable. For me, this was another intriguing aspect of this discipline. For a while during my master course years, I experienced internship at a think tank, which made me feel at a loss whether I should find employment there or not. But I finally decided to continue research work and enrolled in the doctoral course, remaining under the guidance of Prof. Kurita.