Report from Shinshu University
From January 16 to 20, 2018, the Department of Mathematics at the Faculty of Science, Shinshu Univ. invited nine students (one junior, five seniors, and three graduate students) and one instructor from the Department of Mathematics at the Faculty of Science, Kasetsart Univ. The visit was made possible by the SAKURA Exchange Program in Science.
The main purpose of the visit was to provide an opportunity for learning about persistent homology, which has attracted great attention in recent years as a data science tool. At the same time, as part of exchange activities that have been held between the Kasetsart Univ. Faculty of Science and the Shinshu Univ. Faculty of Science from March 2015, the visit also included various opportunities for exchanges with students at Shinshu Univ. A summary of the program is listed below.
The group from Thailand arrived at Narita International Airport at about 4:00 PM, but they didn’t arrive at their hotel in Tokyo until after 7:00 PM. After a brief orientation, they strolled around the Sensoji Temple area.
The group boarded a 9:00 Super Azusa train departing from Shinjuku Station and bound for Matsumoto. After arriving at Shinshu Univ. and completing some administrative procedures, the group immediately took a class entitled “Introduction to Topology” taught by Associate Professor Keiichi Sakai. The group actively asked question and engaged in discussion. Through the class, they were able to deepen their understanding for the basic concepts of topology.
That night, the group stayed at Asama Hot Spring and experienced Japanese-style accommodations.
In the morning, the Thai students took a class called the “Idea of Homology.” By doing so, they learned about homology, which is the foundation of persistent homology. Although homology is an abstract concept, the students actively participated in the class. Some students even came up to the blackboard in order to write answers to questions that had been asked by the instructor.
In the afternoon, students from Shinshu Univ. led the Thai students on a tour of Matsumoto City, including Matsumoto Castle.
In the morning, the group first took a class on persistent homology. Next, the moved to a computer room so that each student could use their own computer to practice calculations using persistent homology.
The data and programs used in these practice exercises were a modification of those used by students who had completed the master’s program at the Shinshu Univ. Graduate School in the 2016 academic year. The students from Kasetsart Univ. were asked to further improve upon those programs.
After eating lunch, the group toured the campus. They then participated in a workshop that was taught by instructor Katthaleeya Daowsud of Kasetsart Univ., who was visiting Shinshu Univ. on a separate grant, as well as two other female researchers from Shinshu Univ.
After the workshop, a nabe (hotpot) was held by students from Shinshu Univ. Japanese and Thai students cooperated to prepare the venue and cook the food. It was a wonderful opportunity for further cultural exchange.
In the morning, the group took a ski lesson at Norikura Kogen Highlands. The Thai students experienced the rich nature of the Shinshu region, including snowy mountainous areas which are vastly different from the climate in Thailand. Although it was the first time that many of the participants had seen snow, their skiing ability improved greatly after a two-hour lesson.
In the afternoon, the group experienced traditional Japanese art by visiting the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum.
In the evening, a party was held with participation from Shinshu Univ. students and faculty members who had participated in the program. Some of the participating Japanese students had visited Kasetsart Univ. in September 2017. Everyone had a great time with new and old friends.
Initially, the group had been scheduled to visit the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo on their first day in Japan. However, since the only airline tickets available had them arriving at Narita in the evening, the visit to the museum was moved to the last day.
After visiting the museum, the group moved to Narita International Airport and boarded their scheduled flight back to Thailand.