Looking Back over the 10th International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Held for the First Time in Japan
The 10th International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM 2023) was held at the distinguished and historic Waseda University from August 20 to 25. This prestigious quadrennial international congress, organized for the first time in Japan, was the long-awaited assembly in the capital and attracted 5,500 participants (including 1,500 online participants) from about 100 countries and regions.
The Congress Director, Shin'ichi Oishi - a professor at the Faculty of Science and Engineering of Waseda University's School of Fundamental Science and Engineering - reviewed the Congress after its implementation.
Please tell us about the outcomes and the unique initiatives of this Congress.
My goal was to create good opportunities for the next generation to go out into the world. Since the mathematical community is a sharply specialized field, there are sometimes only a few people in the world working on the same subject. Therefore, I wanted to encourage young researchers to participate in mini-symposia and expand their network this way. We held 100 parallel breakout sessions during the Congress and received great feedback that ICIAM 2023 was an outstanding success. Being able to do this was the most significant achievement of the Congress.
The financial subsidy provided by the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB), which supports the use of technology in business events, was indispensable to make this happen.
With the help of the "Subsidy for Hybrid Conferences," we were able to organize 100 parallel breakout sessions simultaneously streamed via Zoom Webinar. The management center utilized eight 65-inch monitors with 4K image quality and eight high-specification PCs. Since we managed to prepare a dedicated internet connection that allowed simultaneous access to the Zoom, we significantly improved the efficiency of the process, which would typically require 100 PCs and 100 people to monitor the system.
Additionally, using TCVB financial support, high technology was utilized during the poster session. We created a system in which, even after the session compilation, video footage of the presentation was delivered by a robot (temi robots)), making it seem as if the researchers were presenting in person.
In order to solve the typical problems online participants face when they are reduced to passive observers during sessions, a camera was attached to a temi robot, allowing online participants to listen to the poster session in real-time and discuss with the presenters via temi. In addition to the realistic feeling of being at the venue, the system enabled interactive communication, which turned out to be more effective than initially expected.
In addition to technology-related support, the TCVB provided in-kind support, including Japanese cultural programs, city tours to famous spots in Tokyo, and the dispatch of Tokyo volunteers, which significantly contributed to the Congress's overall success.
During ICIAM 2023, furoshiki (traditional Japanese wrapping cloths used to wrap and/or transport goods) were distributed instead of congress bags. By introducing the use of furoshiki as one of the culture-experience programs, we conveyed to participants both the "sustainable way they are reused" and "traditional Japanese culture," which was very well received by participants.
It was an ambitious attempt to manage the event without a PCO, with the Executive Committee and student volunteers taking the lead. The paper submission system was entrusted to the Waseda University venture company and booking venues, visa support, negotiations with RIHGA Royal Hotel Tokyo, and coordination of invited speakers were delegated to the university-affiliated company. Five hundred part-time students managed the venue for the 100 parallel breakout sessions. The fact that we conducted sessions without collecting slides in advance was another factor that simplified the operation. Above all, the unity of our team, consisting of excellent assistant professors and young researchers, and everyone's determination to make ICIAM 2023 a success were the main driving forces.
We heard that you also actively promoted the Congress to the local community.
After discussing whether it was necessary to advertise Congress and make an appeal to the surrounding residents and community, we decided to use bus wrapping advertising to announce public lectures. We also displayed ICIAM 2023 welcome congress flags in the adjacent shopping area. One of the public lectures was given on the theme of "Origami (the art of paper folding)," which was the symbol of the Congress. Many overseas participants attended the lecture, providing ample opportunity for exchange.
What is your message for the upcoming conferences in Tokyo?
I believe that the role of Japan in the world is to create a place where young researchers can expand their networks and where the next generation have excellent opportunity to go out into the world. At the same time, we should create an environment where people from around the world can come and also gain great opportunities.
The concrete results of hosting the event in your country will be seen in workshops and joint international research in the next few years. It is essential to hold large-scale conferences to make new research and presentations in specialized fields widely known to researchers worldwide. In addition, I think the ability to find novel ways of holding international conferences in any given environment, making various innovations, and honing the "skills to improvise" are essential for those planning to organize such assemblies.
TCVB will continue to promote the benefits of holding international conferences in Tokyo, further establishing it as a world leader in business events.