Han Bao, Visiting Professor from Kyoto University

Han Bao is a program-specific Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Informatics of Kyoto University and a researcher at the Hakubi Project. He was recently invited for a three-week research stay at ENSAI.

Han Bao’s main research areas are the theoretical aspect of statistical machine learning and optimization, specifically working on robustness and loss functions.

My academic career in Japan

Han Bao: “I graduated with a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Tokyo. I’m currently affiliated to Kyoto University, where I am a member of the Hakubi Project, a unique interdisciplinary project. The program is open to researchers who hold a doctoral degree in any field of basic or applied research, from the humanities to the social and natural sciences. Bi-weekly seminars enable us to learn about completely different topics from those we are working on.

I enjoy teaching and researching at Kyoto University. Its atmosphere is quite different from that of the University of Tokyo. Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan; its heritage is still very much present. This setting and the distance from Tokyo encourage the researchers at Kyoto University to feel more freedom. I believe it may be one of the reasons why many Japanese Nobel Prize recipients come from Kyoto University!

Visiting ENSAI

Ikko Yamane was a fellow student of mine at the University of Tokyo, a few years ahead of me. We worked on the same topics and had many discussions while I was writing my PhD thesis. He invited me for a research stay at ENSAI, so I could benefit from the interdisciplinary environment.

While at ENSAI, I had the opportunity to give a lecture on convex analysis and its application to machine learning, to master’s students and faculty. Specifically, I introduced a concept of proper losses, which brought ideas of convex analysis to evaluation of predictions in machine learning. I do believe that this concept provides us with a new perspective on loss function design.

What I particularly enjoyed at ENSAI is the fact that all researchers share the same floor, which is not the case at Kyoto University, as it is much bigger. The biggest benefit at ENSAI is the easy access to fellow researchers. The team is interdisciplinary, but we do have backgrounds in common. Shared lunches or coffee breaks allow for interesting talks on our working subjects or totally different topics. It was inspiring.

Rennes has been a great discovery too. After spending years in Tokyo, the biggest city in the world, and now Kyoto, which can feel crowded sometimes too, I liked the pedestrian city center of Rennes. Being a visiting professor has been a great experience!”

Find out more about research at ENSAI