Dr. Van Meter, I want to come study with you!
Fantastic! I am always interested in
having good students (where my definition of "good" is
"smart, hard working, and pleasant to work with"). Please read
this page before contacting me; you will find the answers to many
of your questions either here or by following the links.
Disclaimer: Nothing on this page should be considered
authoritative; the material is here to help, but may be out of date,
misinterpreted, or even outright wrong, as I am not an expert on the
admissions process. Moreover, no communications with me should
be considered official, as I do not have the power to make any
pronouncements for the university in any interesting capacity.
First off, I assume you're interested in graduate school or
postdoctoral study; if you are an undergraduate, you should consider
or another of the RG KGs.
Most of the rest of this page assumes you are interested in getting a
Ph.D. with me. Keep in mind that this will make you part of
the Jun Murai Internet
Research Lab, which is an excellent place to be. Our lab
is filled with world-class experts on a variety of topics, and the
faculty are very supportive of a wide range of research interests.
Supervision of Murai Lab students is shared among all faculty in the
lab, sometimes with additional support from faculty from other Keio
campuses or outside of Keio.
University/Keio SFC Basics
If you already live in Japan, you are probably aware of the basic way
in which a Japanese university operates. If you are not, here are a
few basic facts:
- The system is similar in some ways to the American system. A
bachelor's degree is (supposed to be) four years, a master's two,
and a Ph.D. three more (many of our students take longer than three
years, for a variety of reasons, but many scholarships for overseas
students will pay for only three).
- If you are an undergraduate considering getting a Ph.D. with me,
the Japanese system generally requires you to first acquire a master's
degree, so you should begin by applying for the master's program.
MEXT scholarships (see below) are available for master's
- The school year starts in April, but we also admit students to
start in September.
- Ph.D. students do not generally take classes for credit; you are
assumed to be ready to conduct research. Auditing of classes is
quite common, however, and as you are coming from outside SFC, I
encourage it as a way to learn about the faculty and research here,
as well as to fill in any gaps in your background.
- Master's students should expect to do a serious dissertation.
- You're reading this page in English; you must read English well
enough to get through hundreds of pages of technical text in a year.
You will be expected to write research papers in either Japanese or
English, and will have to give at least one international conference
presentation (which, in general, means English). If you speak
neither Japanese nor English well, your life will be harder
here. However, I am quite used to dealing with people whose native
language is not English. It will be an additional hurdle, but not
a deciding factor in your success.
At the moment, I have only extremely limited access to
funding for new students. If you are coming from outside Japan, in
general, you will need to secure funding for at least your first
year from outside; many of our Ph.D. students are self-funded for at
least part of their
education. Here are a few links.
- JASSO keeps a
good page on studying
in Japan. Overall, this might be the best place to start, as it
has links to MEXT and other organizations.
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
(called MEXT; the Japanese name is 文部科学省, Monbukagakusho or
Monkasho) supports some students to come to Japan for study. The
Monbukagakusho scholarships are competitive and quite
presitigious. How competitive depends on the country you are
coming from, and I am told that the application processes and due
dates vary by country, but are sometimes as much as two years
in advance of when you would start your studies. You should begin
by checking with
Japanese embassy in your country as well as the links below.
I believe much (all?) of the paperwork for this is submitted
through the university (Keio, in this case), so it is important to
follow the links to Keio below.
- There is even a
of Keio scholarships in the MEXT website. (n.b.: This page is
mostly focused on undergraduates.)
- The Japan
Society for the Promotion of Science
Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars.
- Keio's own International
of scholarships and a
page, which is a good place to start. One good one is
the Future Award for international students.
- Our campus has its
own International Office,
focused primarily on undergraduates but with a lot of good information
about the campus, faculty and environs. As you get closer to coming,
the information in
for SFC International Students will be invaluable. The Mita IC
also has a "Life
at Keio" page that is helpful.
- Of course, you should familiarize yourself
with our graduate
Once you are here, funding may become a little easier to
find for subsequent years. The Keio offices have some
information on sources, such as private foundations, that support
students that are already here.
Contacting me to express interest in coming to SFC to study with me
is a good place to start, as graduate admissions are
done partially based on a research plan developed for study
with a particular professor, and approved by him/her. However, I
know nothing else about admissions rules -- dates, fees,
forms, testing, visas, etc. Please see
the Graduate School of
Media and Governance web pages for more information about these
topics. (n.b.: Don't worry about the name of the graduate school.
I mentor students in quantum information, and other faculty members
mentor in bioinformatics; our school as a whole is quite broad and
interdisciplinary in its approach.)
You and Me
Important notice: I do not discriminate
against anyone due to age, race, gender or gender identity,
sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, religion, political
persuasion, disability, height, weight, astrological sign (Chinese
or Western), blood type, or favorite baseball or basketball
I do consider the adviser/advisee relationship to be a mentoring
relationship with a personal component as well as a professional one.
Our lab has a strong and mostly informal social life, and you can
look forward to constant interaction with other students and
faculty, on both social and technical topics.
I get a fair number of queries from people interested in pursuing
quantum computing. Wonderful! It's a fascinating topic, and will
be critical in the years to come. However, it is a very
interdisciplinary topic, and starting from scratch means that you
have a long ways to go. Before starting a Ph.D. program, you
should already have a reasonably solid background in at least
one of the following:
- Mathematics: group theory, probability, linear algebra
- Physics: elementary quantum mechanics, optics,
semiconductors, thermodynamics and entropy
- Computer science: computational complexity, Boolean logic, error
correction, data structures, algorithms, automata, etc.
In addition, because I am a computer systems person and am
interested in quantum computer architecture and distributed quantum
computation, the following are helpful:
- The ability to program is fundamental. You should be able to
program in Mathematica, Matlab/Octave, Java/C++/C, or at least
Python or Ruby.
- Computer architecture
- Queueing theory
- Operating systems
- Computer arithmetic
In fact, I consider that list to be pretty fundamental to a
well-rounded education in computer systems, so it's useful
regardless of your topic.
Goal: Your goal is to convince me that I should support your
application to our graduate school. As we go through the process,
I may ask for reference letters from faculty at your current
(or last) institution, and I will ask for a telephone
interview as the last step before agreeing to support your
application. You need to convince me that you have a reasonable
chance of completing a Ph.D. under me in the expected time frame,
which means showing me the following:
- that you are reasonably intelligent,
- that you are organized and hard working,
- that you have a strong enough background in at least some
of the areas above that we're not starting from zero,
- that you can communicate your ideas effectively, and
- that your interests and abilities overlap enough with mine that
I can mentor you effectively.
To achieve that goal, do the following:
- Figure out what you want to do:
Send me this information, along with the information below.
- master's or Ph.D.,
- what general topic you intend to study, and
- when you hope to start (after you look at the dates below).
- Check into dates, deadlines, forms, etc. You will
have to drive the overall application process, not me.
- Start the process of finding funding for at least your first
year. I am of very limited help here.
- Send me your c.v. or transcript, with the courses you have
taken. These should be by name, at least, not course number, or,
better yet, a one sentence to one paragraph long description. If
you have taken computing classes and can map them to the topics in
curriculum recommendations, that would be ideal.
- Send me a research plan. It should be about three pages, to
start with (unformatted email is okay to begin with, as we will
likely go back and forth on this). I demand five things in a
research plan from my students, you might as well get used to it:
Of course your first plan won't be very complete or in
depth, but I need to have some idea of what you want to do and
whether or not to believe that you are capable of
actually doing it.
- Problem definition: what are you trying to do,
and why? How will the world be a better place if you
- Related research: who else has attacked the same problem?
Did they succeed or fail? What are the shortcomings of their
- The key idea: this is where everyone starts.
- Evaluation: how will you evaluate whether or not it
- Schedule: this shows me that you are organized, can manage
yourself and your research, and that you have scoped the problem
correctly (it is neither too large nor too small).
The plan I ask you to write above is not the final word on what
your thesis topic will be, but it gives me a lot of insight into how
you work. I do have a long list of unsolved research problems,
but I do not have time to share them with every possible candidate.
This plan is your chance to show creativity and initiative, but you
should assume it will change, perhaps radically, later.
Rules for contacting me:
- Read this page first! (Duh!)
- If you send me documents, send them to me in PDF, PostScript, or
plain text, in English or in Japanese. I do not accept documents in
Microsoft Word format.
- I am generally good about replying to email, but I get enormous
amounts of it. If I have not responded to you within a few days,
feel free to resend your mail; I do not consider that rude, as I
often miss mail in the flood. Do consider whether your mail
looks like spam. Subject lines such as "Please reply" or "I am
interested in you" likely are deleted without being read. Try
something more substantive, such as "graduate study in quantum
computing" (or whatever your topic of interest is).
Copyright 2007-2016 Rod Van Meter