Message from the director of the MSC

The Research Center of Mathematics for Social Creativity (MSC) was established in April of this year within the Research Institute for Electronic Science (RIES) at Hokkaido University.

Mathematics is the common language of the sciences and holds the function to cross borders between all academic fields.The Research Institute of Ultrashort Waves (est. in 1943), the precursor to RIES, pioneered cooperation between the medical sciences and engineering. Through this lineage, RIES inherits its spirit of cross-border research and currently promotes the fusion of research in fields related to optics, molecular and material sciences, biology, and the mathematical sciences.

When we think back on history, we note that social revolutions have been closely related to developments in the mathematical sciences. For example, geometry was developed from measurement in Ancient Greece, and mathematical analysis, such as differential and integral calculus and variational methods, were developed from Newtonian mechanics. The appearance of steam engines in the industrial revolution developed the theory of partial differential equations that describe thermodynamics and thermal conduction. Turing’s research, which aimed at breaking codes in the Second World War, developed the theory of algorithms and computation, recursive functions and discrete mathematics. The important point here is that, for example, if there were no vast astronomical observations by Tycho Brahe, mathematical sciences such as Newtonian mechanics would not have developed with the same vigor. In this way, it is very important for both the developments of mathematical science and social revolution to carefully observe real phenomena. On the other hand, just like ergodic theory in statistical mechanics, which is useful in the interpretation of the basis of thermodynamics, there are many mathematical notions that have been developed driven by plentiful imaginations of investigators. These notions were developed under situations where the details of the system are not visible.

The MSC considers these histories in the development of the mathematical sciences and social revolutions and consists of four groups that comprise four professors, two associate professors and six assistant professors. Two of these groups propel the mathematical sciences using data obtained from measurements, considering the history of social revolution and mathematical developments. The other two groups develop mathematical models that extract the essences of observed phenomena. In addition to these members, the MSC is composed of 36 professors as interlocking staff (as of November 4, 2015), who are working in the Faculty of Science (mathematics, chemistry, and earth sciences), Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Advanced Life Science, Research Center for Zoonosis Control, Graduate School of Economics and Business Administration, Graduate School of Medicine/School of Medicine, and Institute for Catalysis. At the MSC, through individual collaboration of researchers working in the mathematical sciences with researchers from distinct fields, we aim to construct a comprehensive system for establishing the fusion of research fields by creating an Open Facility for Knowledge which serves as a virtual open facility to promote encountering, discussing and carrying out systematic collaborations, which is the foothold for mathematical cooperation at Hokkaido University. The MSC will actively promote new collaboration between a diverse range of industrial and social science research fields which have not yet been developed through the mathematical sciences. In our plans for the years ahead, the MSC aims to (i) discover the social demands that lead to the creation of materials, the development of medicines and techniques for optical imaging, (ii) drive mathematical scientific investigations that can lead to breakthroughs in novel fields, and (iii)to improve Quality of Life (QOL) through the mathematical sciences.

We also aim to be actively involved in fostering young leaders for the next generation. For example, we will hold special lectures in coordination with the Mathematics Department from next year. This will also propel cooperation with the Ambitious Leader’s Program within the Program for Leading Graduate Schools of Hokkaido University. In particular, in these lectures we make effort to teach young investigators, including postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, what “distinct fields demand of mathematics” and to have a wide viewpoint that will enable them to extend the mathematical sciences to address unsolved problems in distinct fields.

Though the MSC is still young, it derives from the Research Center for Integrative Mathematics and contains talented investigators who are working on the worldwide level. With 14 full-time staff, of which 4 are foreigners (including specially appointed staff), we are already carrying out collaborative research on the international stage, which we intend to act as a springboard toward the global level.

I would like to express our sincere gratitude for your warm support and cooperation to the MSC.


June 14th, 2019

Professor Masaharu Nagayama,

Director of Research Center of Mathematics for Social Creativity,

Research Institute for Electronic Science,

Hokkaido University