Osaka Prefecture University

President’s Welcome Address

LastUpDate: April 10, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen, congratulations on entrance and welcome to Osaka Prefecture University (OPU). On behalf of the university, it is my great pleasure to give an address to memorialize this event.

My address includes three stories. First, I will talk about an old map that I saw at the museum in Sakai city the other day. Second, I will review what car navigation and its analogy are. Finally, I will introduce OPU’s vision. By integrating these three topics, I intend to make a strong message to encourage you in your studies at OPU.

I’d like to begin with an experience I had on a museum visit. There was an old map on display in Ri-Sho-no-Mori, which is quite different from the current global map. While the size of Osaka and the Korean Peninsula are larger in this old map, Hokkaido is rather small. Most islands between Kyusyu and Okinawa are depicted in detail. At first, I doubted there was a lot of difficulty in drawing an exact map at that time. Then I felt ashamed as I have no idea on how to draw an exact map if I was in that era.

How do you feel about my experience? Could you draw an exact map of Osaka now by yourself? You may be able to do it because you are already familiar with the shape of Osaka. However, how can you draw a map for a wide range of other places? I am wondering …… Even if you have enough time and budget, it is difficult for you to draw an exact one by yourself without knowledge of the target area. Do you agree?

Focusing my thoughts on maps, I started to consider the question: “why did they draw such maps as those seen in the museum?” Next, I have a question: why do we need to draw maps?

The reason why Mr. Tadataka Inoh drew a map during the Edo era was to measure the size of the Earth. There are a variety of maps for specific purposes: route maps, sightseeing maps, and charts. At that time I realized that precision is not always important for a map but the reason for drawing it should be clear.

Let me proceed to the second story. As you may know, car navigation systems and route search services for public transportation are very popular today. There are three main elements to these systems and services: current position, goal position, and route displayed on the map. Global positioning systems (GPSes) can identify our exact current position. Once we specify the goal position, the car navigation system or route search service will find the best (shortest) chain of paths on the map as a route.

Research on the shortest-path problem started in the 1950s. When I was an undergraduate, I was strongly impressed how wonderful the algorithm at the time was for solving the problem. It was not difficult for me to understand the method to find the shortest path once properly studied. However, at that time, no one was sure that such an algorithm could be used every day and everywhere.

I have two strong impressions on this study. One impression is that it is a breakthrough for business. Even if we have an algorithm that can solve the shortest-path problem, nothing has occurred. However, once it is integrated into positional and mapping systems, millions of people will benefit from it.

The other impression is its analogy to human life. Let us associate the original problem with your life. Where are you now? Do you have special GPS which identifies your current position in your life? Where is your future goal? Are there sub-goals for your big goal? To find the path from your current position to your final goal, do you have a map? What does the map look like? Who can draw the map for your life? Yes, this analogy suggests that an original map and route should be drawn for your life.

Finally, let me tell you about two important terms in OPU’s vision. One is “cutting-edge research” and the other is “reliable center of community”. During the last financial year, OPU was evaluated on its activities by an official organization called the “National Institution for Academic Degrees and Quality Enhancement of Higher Education”. The evaluation results on research and social contribution received from them were both “VERY GOOD.” We are proud of our vision and results.

Our vision also refers to “flying.” All OPU campus names are related to “flying”. Mozu in Naka-mozu and Sagi in Shira-sagi are types of bird. Habikino was named because a swan believed to be the reincarnation of Yamato Takeru showed his feathers when he flew off from Furuichi. Rinku was named because it is adjacent to Kansai Airport.

To summarize, you may not have a map for your own life yet. If you do not have map, you cannot identify your current position nor plot your goal position, and you cannot fly into the world without map.

Therefore, I strongly encourage you to draw a map for your future through your studies. OPU, who was evaluated as “VERY GOOD” in both research and social contribution, will help you to do it. It may take time. You may need help from professors and friends. Your map should be different from others. We will be happy if all of you would draw your own original map for your life at OPU.

Even if you cannot draw the perfect map while you are at OPU, it is no problem. Rather, you should learn the skills to refine your activity map under the supervision of OPU faculties. Some parts of the map should be drawn in detail as your major while other parts may be rough as liberal arts. While en route, you may encounter a closed path. It is not uncommon. Do not worry. You may find another shortest path if you continue to study. Car-navigation systems tell us this is true.

You may receive a referable map from your advisors and seniors. You may pass your map to your juniors in the future. We are very happy if great map can be drawn under the collaboration of OPU stakeholders for our brilliant future.

Thank you for your kind attention. Once again, congratulations on your entrance.

April 6, 2017
Hiroshi TSUJI, president of OPU