|Volume 2: No. 38|
As the U.S. defense base disintegrates and we contemplate cutting all but top R&D functions, Japan maintains its manufacturing and encourages dual-use technologies. [David B. Friedman and Richard J. Samuels, MIT Japan Program. David K. Kahaner; Bill Park.]
David Lam, co-founder of Expert Edge, says that small companies today must be global to survive. Lam grew up in Hong Kong, and speaks Cantonese and Mandarin. The bulk of his business is overseas, which has worked well during our recession. [Loretta Green, Peninsula Times Tribune, 8/26. agentsee.] When choosing a business partner, consider foreign connections.
The German computing society, Gesellschaft fuer Informatik e.V. (Bonn), has an 1,800-member neural-network SIG. Patrick Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Prof. Bernd Schuermann of Siemens AG are co-editors of the quarterly newsletter, "N3 - Nachrichten Neuronale Netze."
Siemens AG (Munich) has restructured its corporate R&D, or about 1,500 workers and 10% of its $5.3B R&D effort. Research specific to only one business unit has been moved out of corporate labs. Long-term strategic R&D has been moved into a new Innovation Center; near-term research, including software and information technology, has been placed under four application centers. Cross-posted managers and internal information fairs help labs peddle their wares to the 15 business groups. [J. Robert Lineback, Electronic News, 7/20.]
CSLI (Stanford) has announced several visiting scholars in NLP and logic: Hyuk-Chul Kwon (email@example.com); Aesun Yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org); Hidetosi Sirai (sirai @csli.stanford.edu); and Ralf Mueller (email@example.com). [Ingrid Deiwiks (firstname.lastname@example.org), NL-KR, 8/27.] Also Koji Nakatogawa (email@example.com). [NL-KR, 9/9.]
Sun Microsystems will hire 33 software engineers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Novosibirsk, expanding an existing relationship with supercomputer designer Boris A. Babaian. Sales of the software is expected in 18 months. [WSJ, 9/1. Tim Finin.]
The Manticore Consultancy is offering former-Soviet (CIS) programmers training and work in object-oriented development. Graduate-student exchanges will be included in the Manticore Eastern European Software Initiative. 49 E. 86th St., NY, NY 10028. [Harold Lorin. CW, 8/31.]
Esther Dyson has written an entertaining article about business customs in the former Soviet Union. (Business phones are often not answered because calls always mean trouble. If someone does answer, you probably can't leave a message.) She misses the early days of Silicon Valley, when it was "a ragtag collection of former scientists and scruffy electronic tinkerers working out of garages." (Now it's "full of business school graduates and salespeople, PR guys and sensible, rational risk-takers, ensconced in office parks and corporate campuses.") She is spending a quarter of her time in the CIS, enjoying the "brilliance, passion and disorder" of Russian physicists and moonlighting programmers. [Forbes, 9/14.]
The leading networks in Japan are NEC's PC-Van and Fujitsu's Nifty-Serve, each with over 200K members. Ascii Corp. (Tokyo) is combining its ACS, PCS, and MSX-ACS networks into a single service with 75K members, and is adding gateways to Delphi, G-Search, and language translation services. The fee will be 2,000 yen per month ($16) plus 20 yen per three minutes. Delphi, which is associated with Ascii, has acquired Byte Magazine's BIX. [Masayuki Miyazawa, Newsbytes, 2/18.]
Kazuhiko Nishi started Japan's $270M Ascii Corp. when he was a college student in 1977. The software and publishing company suffered a cash-flow crisis when Japan's economic boom ended, but Nishi has pulled together funding from six banks to pay off a short-term bond. Ascii agreed to shed unprofitable subsidiaries, reduce hiring, and take other cost-cutting measures. [SJM, 9/3.]
ICOT was a very good advertisement for AI, and now that the best students in Japan seem to be moving into AI subfields. ICOT also propelled the growth of the AI in Japanese industry. [Prof. Setsuo Ohsuga, UTokyo. David K. Kahaner, ONR Asia, 8/27. Steve Goldstein.]
The number of women developing software in Japan has increased 250% in the last five years. Other industries have seen less-rapid increases in the female workforce. [Industry Week, 7/6. Kelly E. Dwyer, CW, 8/10.]
Hitachi Development Center (formerly Hitachi Software Works) has reduced its software defect rate to one fault per 14K lines of code during the first 12 months after delivery. Structured development methodologies have helped survive Japan's shortage of programmers. Custom software development is typical, usually with considerable overlap between projects. Productivity is 4,500 lines of equivalent assembler code per developer per month, or 1,500 lines of C code. About 65% of that productivity is code reuse. The quality assurance department has final authority on when a project is ready to ship. Real power in the company is with domain managers (spanning many projects), systems engineers, and quality assurance managers. [Ware Myers, Computer, 8/92.]
Hitachi's C-based expert-system environment is ES/KERNEL, in versions for X-Windows and Motif and most platforms. 4K copies have been sold in Japan. Reasoning styles include production systems, object-oriented message passing, assumption-based constraint satisfaction, and multilayered blackboards. Related domain shells are ES/Promote/W-Diag for diagnosis, ES/Promote/W-Plan for planning and scheduling, and ES/Tool/W-RI for rule induction. Other tools handle real-time process control, plant operation, and user interface building. Large companies have built many applications for shallow reasoning in high-volume transaction processing. [David K. Kahaner (firstname.lastname@example.org), ONR Asia. comp.research.japan, 8/26.]
A JTEC (Japanese Technical Evaluation Center) team headed by Prof. Edward Feigenbaum (email@example.com) visited Japan in 3/92. Their written report on expert-system technology should be available soon from NSF. [David K. Kahaner (firstname.lastname@example.org), ONR Asia. comp.research.japan, 8/26.]
Prof. Setsuo Ohsuga, former President of the Japan Society for AI, is director of UTokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST). RCAST has 53 professors, 27 other faculty, 140 research fellows, and 150 graduate or research students. It was established in 1987 to emphasize openness, flexibility, and international cooperation in interdisciplinary studies. Budget is almost $15M. Chaired professorships include factory automation; knowledge processing and transfers systems; intelligent sensing devices; molecular information materials; robotic materials; and 26 others in systems, devices, materials, and socio-technology.
Prof. Ohsuga also holds the RCAST Chair of Knowledge Processing and runs a lab with Koichi Hori (hori @ohsuga.rcast.u-tokyo.ac.jp). The lab has one visiting professor and 19 students, about 1/3 from outside Japan. Most technical reports are available in English, but computer interfaces are in Japanese. This "knowledge-based CAD" lab has a Unix-based Knowledge Acquisition and Utilization System (KAUS) based on Ohsuga's multilayered logic. Applications include mechanical design, wing design, and control-system analysis; software design may be next. Chemilog, a Prolog-based language, has been used for chemical design, and Prof. Hori's AA! system aids engineers in early conceptual design and articulation. "Collaborative activities with Western scientists are bound to be fruitful." [David K. Kahaner, ONR Asia, 8/27. Steve Goldstein.]
The Kaisha Society is a professional society of 300 foreigners working for Japanese companies in Tokyo. Monthly speakers have recently included several ambassadors. The president is Robert Filippi of the Bank of Tokyo, 81-3-3231-2247 Fax. [Timothy Rowe (email@example.com), AJBS-L, 8/20.]
When William Davidow was at Intel, he wrote a monthly check to a floppy-disk vendor. Each bill (about $250K) was accompanied by six inches of paperwork showing how many floppies were ordered each day, how many arrived, how many were defective, how many were reshipped, etc. Computers enabled the accounting department to track all this -- an impressive display of productivity. Contrast this with Mazda, which then had about five people in its accounts payable department. (Ford had 500, which it managed to reengineer to just 50.) Mazda was running a just-in-time factory with reliable suppliers and no inventory storage. Each month it counted the number of cars it had made, multiplied by five, and sent a check to its tire supplier. [William Davidow, MicroTimes, 8/31.]