Site: Hitachi, Ltd.
Central Research Laboratory (CRL)
1-280 Higashi-koigakubo, Kokubunji-shi,
Tokyo, 185-8601, Japan
Date Visited: 25 March 1998
WTEC Attendess: R.D. Shelton (report author), T. Ager, B. Croft, L.Goldberg, M. Shamos
Hitachi is a $68 billion (net sales) company with 330,000 employees thatinvested over $4.07 billion (6% of sales) in electrical and electronics R&Din FY 1996 (Hitachi 1997a).
Mr. Fukushima provided a briefing on the Next-Generation Digital LibrarySystem Research and Development Project (NGDL), funded and initiated by theMinistry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). Hitachi has contributed tothe design of the architecture for the system, as well as provided some of thebackground research. Five Hitachi units are participating in the project.Fujitsu will integrate the prototype system of the project. Seven othercompanies are involved. The background research and design was completed duringFY 1996-97 and development and testing will be conducted during FY 1998-99.
The overall architecture selected contains three layers: Presentation,Function, and Data based on a distributed object-oriented model. The messagingarchitecture features synchronous and asynchronous communication and aWWW-CORBA connection protocol. The basic agent architecture is based on FIPAagent management, agent communications via FIPA and KQML, and migration viaOMG. The multimedia database architecture is based on SQL3, SQL/MM, and OODBwith SMGL document management. The mobile agent architecture is based on CORBA,OMG/MAF and the Java programming language, and is being developed by NihonUnisys. The intelligent information retrieval agent, which can search a varietyof databases on the Internet, is mainly being developed by NEC.
The Japanese Information Processing Development Center (JIPDEC) has a set ofslides on this project at http://www.jipdec.or.jp. This site contains a list of several otherenabling technology development efforts now underway.
Hitachi developed the predecessor PILOT digital library system now inoperation at the Center for Information Infrastructure (CII) in Fujisawa City(http://www/cii.ipa.jp/el/index_c.html).
This was the one NGDL-funded project shown; the others were apparentlyinternally funded. This Japanese-language system is intended to assist the userretrieve text information via a thesaurus and document clustering. Thethesaurus is automatically extracted from the database by term extraction andcompound term analysis leading to co-occurrence data acquisition: syntacticco-occurrence, co-occurrence in the same window, and co-occurrence in the samesentence. The first and second order correlations are determined and stored forbrowsing. Document clustering is based on clustering query-related terms, whichare used to assign documents to clusters via the group average method.Performance data included 86% precision of the compound term for the thesaurus,and real time clustering of 2,500 documents in 15 seconds.
Hitachi has a mature commercial English/Japanese machine translation (MT)product being sold as an application program for some ¥9,800 in the Akihabaraelectronics shopping area of Tokyo. This demonstration showed some improvementsof this product for English language Web page browsing by Japanese speakersplus some of Hitachi's new interests (also seen at several other sites) inJapanese/Chinese and Japanese/Korean MT systems. It was difficult for the panelto evaluate the accuracy of the translations without an interpreter, but theuser interface was clearly well done.
This is a text retrieval system based on combining a keyword search with asecond one such as some unit of measurement mentioned in the records. Mr.Kanada demonstrated several searches, including one that combined the Japaneseword for "riot," or civil disturbance, with the date of occurrence in theencyclopedia. A second search combined the names of rivers with the area oftheir watershed.
At the IBM Tokyo Research Lab, the WTEC panel saw a demo of Global DigitalMuseum, which allowed the user to assemble a personal collection ofmuseum-quality artifacts, at least virtually. A sudden desire to be able toassemble a personal library of rare books was satisfied the next day at HitachiCentral Research Laboratory by Webshelf, an attractive human-networkinteraction (HNI) system, which allows users to personalize information on theWeb. The display showed an image of a conventional bookshelf containing books,the title on each spine being linked to a URL. Two types of bookshelves exist:a communal bookshelf located on the server allowing for "books" (URLs) to beshared, and a private bookshelf located on the client. By clicking the spine ofa book, the document is recalled from the Web in the page-style of a physicalbook and is read by turning the pages using page-turning graphics. Electronicmarginalia could be appended. Webarchive, a hypermedia archive proxy server,stores all versions of data and links browsed by the user separately, allowingthe user to browse past versions of Web pages, as well as saving the version asa particular edition of a book.
A half-day's visit to a company the size of Hitachi can only sample therelevant R&D projects. For information on some other projects, a copy ofHitachi Technology 97 (Hitachi 1997c) was provided. A reprint (Kamiuchi et al.1997) described the digital image system (DIS), which is the basis of Hitachi'srespected virtual museum "Viewseum" hosted at http://www.viewseum.com.
Also, the company's homepage at http://www.hitachi.co.jp links to sites of the Hitachi's other corporatelabs, which contain short summaries of many interesting projects. A recentlyannounced prototype system at CRL was a display system for the visuallyimpaired of Windows® 95 screens using a 3D acoustic field. A part ofthis work was performed as part of the National Research & DevelopmentPrograms for Medical and Welfare Apparatus under entrustment by the New Energyand Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).
The Hitachi Systems Development Lab (SDL) Web site lists an impressivedigital information access program including, for example, a video-basedvirtual reality system, data mining for digital libraries, and at least fiveprojects on network security.
The breadth of all these efforts is impressive, and those demonstrated indetail show great promise as building blocks for large information deliverysystems such as digital libraries.
Hitachi. 1997a. Hitachi, Ltd. (Kabushiki Kaisha HitachiSeisakusho), Annual Report FY 1996. 6, Kanda-Surugadai 4-chome,Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101, Japan.
Hitachi. 1997b. Central Research Laboratory, Hitachi,Ltd. (Brochure). February 21.
Hitachi. 1997c. Hitachi Technology '97. HitachiReview Special Issue. June.
Kamiuchi, T., N. Hamada, and N. Ikeshoji. 1997. Digitalimage system and its applications. Hitachi Review. Vol. 46. No. 5.