Combination of concepts such as "Information and Life" and "Life and Environment" that are unimagined in the past is now pioneering the vast frontier of science and technology hitherto investigated. A system that continuously exchanges information and matter with its surroundings is called "Open System". Life, computer network, human society are regarded as high-dimensional sophisticated open systems that are composed of many heterogeneous complex components. High-dimensional advanced open systems are associated with many characteristics that are different from the engineering systems that has been objected by conventional science and technology. It is the aim of Keio University to establish a graduate school of “Science for Open and Environmental Systems” first in the world to produce dramatic breakthroughs in scientific technology by the proposal of new science, i.e. “Open System Science” .
Examples of the urgent issues in open systems include environmental problems, urban problems, energy crises, and pandemics. Ideally speaking, we need to tackle these issues very promptly. Conventional modeling and optimization techniques are thus incapable of formulating such complex phenomena, for we do not know how to specify their boundary conditions. There is definitely a strong need to devise a new methodology to tackle such rapidly-changing social situations. However, it can be said that the science and technology of the 20th century have postpone solving these global problems. Those of the 21st century are expected to respond to these issues that can no longer wait for precise theoretical clarifications. To create a full-scale academic field embodying brand new scientific technology with the macroscopic point of view is our second aim in the graduate school of “Science for Open and Environmental Systems” ; we call it "Intellectual Social Infrastructure Engineering."
A research environment to come to grips with the subjects on open systems described above is being organized. For large-scale phenomenon that does not lend itself to experimentation and onetime-only phenomenon, simulation experiments in virtual reality, i.e. a realm that is not yet real but can be possible, have become possible with the aid of a computer. Computation with enormous numbers encompassing many uncertain elements (variables) that have been ignored or abstracted has now become possible. In addition, active studies are being conducted on mechanisms that self-organize new systems in response to constant changes in mutual actions in the field of artificial life, genetic algorithm, and neural network. By pursuing researches in these areas more energetically, one may expect that the possibilities for scientific understanding and technological progress for the living systems and human society will be further strengthened in the 21st century.
What we have on hand in the field of open system science is only a piece of a huge jigsaw puzzle. Therefore, there is an urgent need to complete the puzzle by initiating the development of a new scientific methodology as an alternative to the current approach. On the other hand, there is also a need to solve current problems by using the available materials, although they may not be perfects. The graduate school of “Science for Open and Environmental Systems” offers courses to investigate specific problems in wide areas of the real world, such as space, urban environment, resources, energy, ecology, information networks, and social structures. In addition, courses are offered for new methodologies to contribute to the construction of social infrastructure system, such as searching for problem spaces, phenomenological analysis, and designs of the self-controlled systems and the systems possessing ability to adapt to unexpected situations to enrich this new academic field.