Master Course Interviews in 2019

"Le Penseur" and Behavior Modeling
Babar Abbasi

£Final Defense
Eiji: 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

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.