09 July 2010

Tokyo Tech to take lead in supercomputing in Japan

AP - Kyodo News report that the Tokyo Institute of Technology plans to have its new Tsubame 2.0 ('tsubame' is Japanese for the fast-flying bird, the swallow) operational later this year, giving it the lead in speed and processing power in Japan. Japan, however, has taken a backseat in supercomputer progress in recent years in terms of global rankings. Still, Japanese manufacturers NEC, Fujitsu and Hitachi remain world class developers of technology for supercomputing. For example, NEC recently announced development of a computer chip that is the world's fastest, surpassing anything Intel has. And Fujitsu plans to increase sales of supercomputers to European institutions and companies.

RIKEN, the supergroup of research institutes in Japan, plans to construct the world's most powerful supercomputer, which would put the country back in the top spot. However, this extravagant undertaking faced suspension due to proposed budget cuts. The project has received enough of a 'lifeline' to keep going, but the 2012 deadline looks questionable.    

See article at link below, excerpt follows link.


TOKYO, June 17 (AP) - (Kyodo)—The Tokyo Institute of Technology said Wednesday it will commence in November the full-fledged operation of Tsubame 2.0, which would become Japan's fastest supercomputer.

The computer can calculate 2,400 trillion times per second, or 12 times faster than a supercomputer at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which is currently the fastest in the country.

Tsubame 2.0, however, is expected to be overtaken once Riken, a comprehensive research institute for natural sciences, starts operating a next-generation supercomputer in 2012. The Riken supercomputer project had faced suspension under a decision by the waste-cutting panel of the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan but was later allotted a budget to continue development.

Study at a university in Japan

This is the Japan Times directory of universities:


Bicycles as far as the eye can see

Rows of bicycles in front of the College of 
Science and Technology, 
University of Fukui, Bunkyo Campus. 

How do most students get to university in Japan? The number one choice for travel is the bicycle. Regional commuting students who drive their cars are a minority, since most students live in private apartments and dormitories near the campuses.

Believe it or not, bicycles have created an environmental problem for crowded urban campuses: thousands of abandoned bikes left on campus. Japan's numerous urban campuses are troubled by 'sodai gomi'--large items of rubbish, such as bicycles, motor scooters, motorcycles, kitchen appliances, etc.--left by students or dumped by people over the schools' walls.

Row of bicycles in front of the College of Education 
and Regional Studies, 
University of Fukui, Bunkyo Campus

A truckload of abandoned bicycles being taken
away from Univ. of Fukui campus.

08 July 2010

Get Japan Higher Education Outlook Widget


Who evaluates the evaluators? University rankings face shake up and more competition

Nature reports that university rankings are set to change for the better, with more sophisticated tools used to rank the world's HE and research institutions. As we have been following global rankings of universities and how they appear to be prejudiced against Asian institutions (except Hong Kong and Singapore), we thought we would point out this article published earlier this year.

Perhaps the biggest change is that the THES rankings will be based on data from Thomson Reuters from now on, not QS. Meanwhile, QS plans to press on and improve its own methodology. Moreover, other rankings and more nuanced and balanced methodologies are going to challenge the dominance of THES and ARWU (compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China). The former is often criticized as too unbalanced toward 'reputation' and volatile while the latter is said to emphasize scientific research results above all else. However, Japanese institutions fare about as well on both (which is, not very well) even though you might think a research bias would help them on ARWU.    

Url and excerpt follows:


Published online 3 March 2010 | Nature  464, 16-17 (2010)


Several approaches to university rankings now being developed are switching the emphasis away from crude league tables and towards more nuanced assessments that could provide better guidance for policy-makers, funding bodies, researchers and students alike. They promise to rank universities on a much wider range of criteria, and assess more intangible qualities, such as educational excellence. And the THE ranking list is trying to remake itself in the face of the criticism.

end of excerpt, for entire article see link

Japan Higher Education Outlook at FEEDBURNER


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