Master Course Interviews in 2019
"Le Penseur" and Behavior Modeling£Final Defense
Babar AbbasiEiji: Your master's presentation has been successfully completed. Congrats. The two-year research life is finally to end. Please tell us why you chose our laboratory first. Babar: My first job after bachelors was as a planning engineer in highway Construction Company. During that period, I had observed that the transportation problems in particular congestion is caused due to unplanned provision of road infrastructure and lacking in traffic control strategies rather than the capacity itself. And most of transportation planners have less knowledge about the planning and monitoring strategies of transportation facilities and traffic respectively that makes the situation getting worse by time. Therefore, I had decided to pursue my higher study and professional career in the transportation planning and applied for admission in your laboratory. Eiji: What did you really like to come to the University of Tokyo? I participated in the Japanese speech contest held at Civil Engineering last year, and I was impressed by the Japanese speeches of Babar and Babar: After taking decision to pursue higher studies in abroad, the next difficulty was selection of country and institute to apply for. I was always afraid of going overseas because it is sometimes difficult for foreigners to adjust in other society. I had an idea about Japanese that they are very polite and warm welcoming to foreigners as the politics, history, and culture are always my subjects of interest. So I felt that the Japan would be more suitable than any other venue. Moreover, my teacher who is an alumina of u-Tokyo motivated me to apply for admission by sharing the prestige of the institute and his delightful career here. It was quite astonishing for me and might be for you as well that the University of Tokyo was only institute where I had applied for admission and luckily I got selected. Eiji: Ask about research. Babar studied machine learning and developed a dynamic behavior model. Can you explain your research? Babar: My research focuses on the prediction of timely origin destination flow which eventually used for the dynamic traffic control system. For prediction of within day and day to day travel demand between different traffic zones, dynamic destination choice model is required which is consistent both in choice of time and destination. Therefore, we proposed a Markovian choice based dynamic model for destination choices in the time structured network. In further, destination choice models are difficult to put in practice due to large number of destination alternatives that increase the computational cost or instable the model. There are several methods have been propose to overcome this issue but somehow failed to yield unbiased results due to difference in researcher choice set setting and traveler preferences. In this study, we propose machine learning based methods to overcome this problem which is easier to apply without causing any mathematical complexity. Eiji: What is the most difficult point in the master's thesis? Khan worked on data surveys and balanced allocation, and Babar worked on machine learning. Babar: I believe that nothing is difficult if we are passionate about doing it but when it comes to meet the deadline for accomplishment of some task, management of things becomes a bit difficult. My research was more inclined towards the development of methodology by combining machine learning with theoretical model and the first challenge for me was to accomplish this task in a limited time. Although I was successful in representation of combine framework, working on machine learning algorithms was the most difficult point in my research because of their non-theoretical description. Eiji: On the other hand, when did you do your research and were most happy or interesting? Babar: I had started my research one and a half year ago with no knowledge of statistical modeling and their applications to behavior analysis. However, my persistent devotion and consistent support of other laboratory members made me able to build deep understanding about the transportation modeling. Almost every phase of my research was interesting but the most interesting point for me was dealing with the dynamic model of travel demand prediction. Eiji: How about thesis defense? You look getting too nervous when your turn comes. And you gave a great result at an international conference. Babar: I think it is natural to be nervous while presenting in front of audience and when it comes to defending the research in front of mentors especially in very limited time, it becomes more difficult. I could not sleep well for four days before the final defense due to mental pressure and when the stage for presentation was given to me, I was hardly standing on my feet and my brain was about to stop working. £Summer course of behavioral modelling Eiji: We all went to Kobe to study, but what is your favorite place in Japan and where do you like to settle down? Halal food stores and Muslim mosques are also increasing in Toshima and Taito. Babar: I have visited many places in Japan such as Kobe, Kyoto, Osaka, Toyama, Tokyo Islands, and Sendai. I think every place in Japan is incredible and best to settle down except Tokyo which is very crowded and extraordinary artificial. However, Kyoto was more appealing due to its cultural and traditional legacy and would be more preferable to me for living. Eiji: Toyama is beautiful with a scattered village. Kamidaki is good too. If you know the historical scenery of Fukui and Hokuriku, not only in Toyama City, you'll love it more. You strived harder for some goal, your family and country. My last question is about Japanese student and UT and Japan. Babar: This is the rule of life that to get something we have to lose something. This is true that being far from country and family it was hard time to survive. However, my Japanese friends especially lab members made my time memorable and never let me feel that I am alone here. Moreover, the graduation from u-Tokyo is the life time achievement and what I have achieved in last 2 years is much more than what I have sacrificed. It would not be wrong if I would say that the Todai was my home and my laboratory was my family in Japan. Tnak you very much.