In 2008, I developed the theoretical framework of combinatorial reconfiguration together with colleagues in Japan and around the world. While it began with a casual question from a colleague in another field and was intended to be an individual project, through several encounters it has grown to become what today is a new trend in algorithm theory, a subject of research underway around the world.
Its recent adoption for the KAKENHI Grant-in-Aid for Transformative Research Areas (B), newly established in the 2020 fiscal year, has provided an opportunity for systematic and strategic research together with even more colleagues. Combinatorial reconfiguration is still a young concept. This research project aims at building a foundation for the expansion and maturity of this young concept. While this will require cooperation across fields, ultimately it is difficult to manage fusion of different fields. But it is not only difficult—it also involves the constant thrill of a new frontier. Above all, it makes it possible to network with people across multiple fields.
The key to fusing different fields ultimately depends on how well people can be connected with each other. We are fortunate in that up-and-coming young researchers who are prominent in their individual fields have participated in research in this project. All of the researchers in this project are aged 45 or younger, and their average age is remarkably young, at just 36.5 years (at the time of application). This means that they can be expected to continue research on combinatorial reconfiguration even after the end of this research project, and to reflect its findings in their own background research fields. My role—and what I look forward to most of all—is to see how well I can use combinatorial reconfiguration as a key to connect these researchers with each other.
However, the impact of COVID-19 is a sizable one, and it is a fact that it has led to feelings of impatience. It is vital to this research project that researchers from multiple fields can come together, but of course this is not possible due to COVID-19. In particular, collaboration with researchers overseas is extremely difficult. Still, while the members of this research project are scattered across Japan at 11 universities, we are able to meet online frequently. Although in some ways this does not compare to meeting in person, meeting online does have its own advantages as well. We are beginning vigorous research activities while seriously looking forward to the day that we can meet in person.
Earned a PhD in Information Science from Tohoku University in March 2006. After a career as an assistant professor and an associate professor with the Graduate School of Information Sciences of Tohoku University beginning that same year, he has held his current position since May 2020. He has worked on theoretical computer science, particularly graph algorithms. Awards he has received include the Young Scientists' Prize of the 2018 Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the 2017 Funai Information Technology Award from the Funai Foundation for Information Technology, and the Best Paper Award in the 19th International Symposium on Algorithms and Computation (ISAAC 2008). He has been named a 2020–2022 distinguished researcher of Tohoku University.